Time to Step Up: Commit to 1.5°C

Reading time: 4 minutes
21 June 2019

The scale of the climate crisis is more visible than ever. Not only has it been clearly articulated by the world’s leading climate scientists, communities around the world are suffering more frequent, extreme and widespread storms, heat waves and wildfires.

Citizens are waking up to the consequences of the climate threat as never before. We see it vividly in the recent wave of protests around the world, from striking students to disruptive action, while polls show public concern about climate change is at an all time high. More and more people are realizing something that the We Mean Business coalition has made its focus since inception – action on climate change must accelerate or the consequences will be costly for all.

The recent shifts in public opinion underline the growing need for businesses and policy makers to embrace the transition towards the zero-carbon economies of the future. The economies of tomorrow need the business and government leaders of today to demonstrate bold climate ambition and accelerate action.

The science is unequivocal. We must act now to have any chance of keeping global warming to a maximum of 1.5°C, as the IPCC’s special report shows. Every fraction of a degree of greater warming significantly worsens the risks associated with climate change, including poverty for millions of people and further damage to the already stressed ecosystems on which we all rely.

The economic case for action is beyond doubt. The good news is that this transition can unlock new economic opportunities and help to create jobs. A report from the New Climate Economy shows that shifting to a low-carbon economy could create a $26 trillion growth opportunity and 65 million new jobs by 2030.

Business is already moving. To date more than 900 companies have made bold commitments to climate action through our partners’ initiatives and are already delivering against those commitments. Of those, over 550 are committed to reducing emissions in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement and 175 have committed to switching to 100% renewable electricity with RE100. Some of the businesses that emit the most are recognizing the vital role they play in preventing run-away climate change and have committed to cut emissions to net-zero by 2050 at the latest.

Powerful advances are being made. New renewable electricity from unsubsidized wind and solar is now cheaper than coal in most countries. As costs fall and performance is enhanced, electric vehicle sales are rising at an exponential rate in many geographies. And businesses are innovating and implementing solutions at growing scale.

But it’s not enough.

We need to progress faster towards the ultimate goal of net-zero CO2 emissions if we are to prevent the very worst impacts of climate change.

This is the moment for us all to push for greater progress. All businesses – especially those that to date have been silent on the threat of climate change – need to step-up their ambition and actions to tackle climate change.

For companies yet to act, the message is clear: the potential benefits of bold climate action are significant, while the risks associated with inaction are cause for great concern.

By using this moment of increased focus to commit to climate action, companies can demonstrate they are a trusted partner for key stakeholders, including suppliers, employees, customers, investors and the government.

We’re calling on all companies that haven’t yet done so to commit to set an ambitious science-based emission reduction target that’s aligned with what science says is necessary to limit global warming to 1.5°C. Signal your commitment to setting your company target by signing this pledge:

Sign the Pledge here >

In addition, we ask all companies to commit to net-zero emissions, to phase out value-chain CO2 emissions and reach net-zero for all greenhouse gas emissions by no later than 2050.

We also urge all companies to commit to being an agent of transformative change beyond their own direct operations – using their full range of influence to accelerate economy-wide action.

Encourage suppliers and peers to set 1.5°C-aligned targets, use the company’s voice to consistently and vocally back ambitious climate policy through direct interactions with governments, and ensure that trade groups are in line with the company’s positions and strategy.

If they haven’t done so already, we’re also asking companies to help drive the clean energy and transport transitions by joining RE100 (100% renewable electricity), EP100 (energy productivity), and EV100 (electric vehicles). These collaborative initiatives harness the business case for delivering fast emissions cuts in key areas, and can help achieve science-based targets. If companies have made these commitments, we encourage them to consider if they could be made more ambitious, such as achieving 100% renewable electricity sooner.

Business cannot act alone. Companies look to governments for long-term, clear policies on climate and energy that give them the clarity and confidence they need to invest in the technologies and markets for the zero-carbon future.

To demonstrate leadership in the global economy, we call on governments to develop ambitious long-term strategies that chart a clear path to net-zero domestic CO2 emissions by 2050 at the very latest.

Policy makers can increasingly harness the momentum of business action on climate, as a key driver of emission reductions at the national level and a means to accelerate progress towards the zero-carbon economy.

When policymakers and businesses enable each other to go further and faster, the resulting ambition loops unlock maximum potential for impact and innovation. Now is the moment for policymakers to step up and work together with business to secure a zero-carbon future.

As the transition gathers pace, business and governments must ensure that no-one is left behind. This radical transformation must be managed to ensure that communities are thriving and economies are building resilience to the unavoidable impacts of climate change that have already begun. Those who most vulnerable must be treated with dignity and provided with opportunities and jobs in the new economy.

To deliver on this ambition will take all of our collective effort and technical know how. It will take the very best science, innovation and technology as well as unwavering determination to secure prosperity for future generations.

Together with our partners in business and government, we stand ready to rise to the challenge.

Sign the Pledge here >

First posted by We Mean Business.

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