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Companies tighten climate goals as scientific outlook darkens

To date, more than 630 companies from 43 countries have signed the 2015 agreement.
As the climate crisis escalates, the UN's climate change panel urges nations to halve their emissions by 2030 and zero them out by 2050. Image: Simon Dawson, Bloomberg

The Paris climate agreement asks countries to hold the Earth’s temperature to “well below 2°C” and to strive for no more than 1.5°C of warming. It does not explain to the rest of the world what those numbers mean for them. 

In the years since the 2015 agreement, a consortium of NGOs has worked to help companies figure out just what their contribution should be. The Science-Based Targets Initiative uses scientific research to translate hard-to-understand global benchmarks into industry- and company-specific targets.

To date, more than 630 companies from 43 countries have signed on. The group is responsible for about 1% of overall climate pollution. If they meet these goals, the companies will cut emissions by almost 30% by 2030—or about half of Spain’s pollution, according to BloombergNEF.

Further reducing corporate emissions (and expanding the SBTI roster to include the financial sector) will be a hot topic during Climate Week in New York later this month.

The scientific consensus about what’s needed to control planetary warming has shifted over the past few years. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change last fall issued an influential report suggesting that humanity must cut emissions even below the Paris targets. Namely, nations need to halve them by 2030 and zero them out by 2050. 

“We see companies really responding to the IPCC report and seeing the need to increase their ambition,” said Cynthia Cummis, head of private-sector climate work at World Resources Institute, one of the research groups behind SBTI.

Nestle vowed to zero out its greenhouse-gas impact by 2050, in line with a high-profile “Business Ambition for 1.5°C” pledge that will be featured during Climate Week.

More than two dozen companies in July announced that they’d increased their ambition to match the 1.5°C challenge, including Enel, Iberdrola, Novozymes and Royal DSM. Others, including AstraZeneca, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Levi Strauss & Co and Unilever, already had 1.5°C commitments.

Companies that “had already set targets, to some extent, were some of the easier ones to convince,” said Bruno Sarda, president of CDP North America, one of the research groups behind the SBTI. 

Setting science-based targets requires lots of data, time, judgment and internal political capital on the part of corporate sustainability officers, who often lead initiatives. Of the 634 companies who have committed to such goals, about 235 now have SBTI-approved plans. The SBTI receives funding from member-company fees, along with the Ikea Foundation, UPS Foundation and the We Mean Business Coalition. 

Some companies have had difficulty figuring out how to cut what may be the largest contribution to their emissions tally: their supply chains and consumers. Counting and controlling emissions related to materials before they get to a factory and after consumers drive them home (called “scope 3” in the jargon) has been a source of rich discussion. 

“For many organisations that are on the fence for setting a target, that’s the place where they get hung up,” Sarda said. 

The SBTI is not perfect, according to Katrina White and Kyle Harrison of BloombergNEF, who on Tuesday published a research note on the evolution of corporate climate goals. “The overall methodology remains convoluted,” they wrote. However, the initiative is more credible than arbitrary corporate emissions-cutting goals.

© 2019 Bloomberg L.P.


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I can’t help but wonder what the UN will say if the planet gets hit with a meteorite or a solar flare. Sorry we were too busy telling companies and countries to pay carbon taxes that we could spend on mansions, expensive cars and private planes to care about anything else.

Why not incentivise companies and countries to develop and work on cleaning up stuff like plastic, tangible man made pollution and to start working on ways to survive the increasing global temperature. Whether we stop burning fossil fuels or not, history tells us the globe is getting hotter, just ask NASA about the shift of the earth’s axis and how the poles switch. Please tell me how humans have caused that, or the extinction of the dinosaurs or the Pleistocene.

Wake up and start being innovative. By shutting down coal power stations in third world countries you might as well send the people back to the stone age in a time machine cause they’ll just be sitting ducks.

Now you tell me what % do humans add to the atmosphere??A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

It appears that these doomsday global warming prophets have now turned to 16 year old school dropouts to enlighten you on highly scientific research done on global warming. I suggest that dear Greta goes back to school and educate herself to a level where she can do meaningful research and come to meaningful conclusions which can be respected by the true scientific community.

Yeah it’s scary to watch how the left are pushing a little girl, let’s not even go into detail like Michael Knowles did on Fox News because just now we’ll be told to retract a comment or get banned off a platform for “attacking” a kid when her own mother highlighted the facts in her book, which Michael quoted and gets burned for.

Funny how earlier this year a kid was attacked for wearing a MAGA hat because he just happen to be in the same space as a Native American.

So typical of how the left fight their ridiculous battles.

What a joke that they chose only certain (what they call) scientific evidence to make a point or win an argument and yet when presented with additional or alternative evidence they chose to just ignore or they think by shouting emotional noise in the direction of the facts it will just go away. Drown out the facts with emotional noise.

Have to say it saddens me to see people attacking the messengers and blatantly ignoring the plain facts.

End of comments.





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