Business Case
28 Companies, with Total Market Cap Of $1.3T, Rise to New Level of Climate Ambition

Ahead of the UN Climate Action Summit in September, companies commit to set 1.5°C climate targets aligned with a net-zero future, challenging governments to match their ambition.

Today, the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) and the We Mean Business coalition together announce that 28 companies, with a combined market capitalization of $1.3 trillion are stepping up to set a new level of climate ambition, in response to a joint call-to-action campaign ahead of the UN Climate Action Summit on September 23.

The campaign — called Business Ambition for 1.5°C — sees the companies committing themselves to more ambitious climate targets aligned with limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and reaching net-zero emissions by no later than 2050. 

First movers include Acciona, AstraZeneca, Banka BioLoo, BT, Enel, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Iberdrola, Levi Strauss & Co., Mahindra Group, Natura & Co, Novozymes, Royal DSM, SAP, Telefonica, Unilever, Vodafone Group PLC and Zurich Insurance, amongst others, collectively representing over one million employees from 15 sectors and more than 15 countries. See the full list of companies here.

Of the 28 companies, BT, Levi Strauss and SAP already have 1.5°C-aligned reduction targets covering greenhouse gas emissions from their operations.

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“Climate leadership has never been more important than it is right now, and it is inspiring to see so many diverse companies and brands boldly raising their ambitions,” said Lise Kingo, CEO and Executive Director of the UN Global Compact. “Leading companies are already proving that 1.5°C-compliant climate targets are possible, and I encourage all businesses to seize this opportunity to position themselves at the forefront of this movement and contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.”

The commitments of the 28 companies heed the most recent IPCC report, which warned of catastrophic consequences should global warming exceed 1.5°C. Today’s announcement is right on the heels of last week’s call to action by CSR Europe, which saw 200 CEOs — including Enel, Vodafone and several others who’ve also committed to Business Ambition for 1.5°C — calling on newly elected EU leaders to join them in creating an overarching strategy for a Sustainable Europe by 2030.

“The UN Secretary-General has called on leaders to come to the Climate Action Summit in September with clear plans for major cuts to emissions on the pathway to a zero-net emissions economy by 2050,” said Ambassador Luis Alfonso de Alba, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Climate Action Summit. “It is very encouraging to see these climate leaders in the global business community taking action, both to help tackle the climate emergency and because taking climate action presents huge opportunities for early movers. By sending strong market signals, these companies are showing Governments that they need to urgently ramp up their national plans in line with the latest climate science.”

Building a prosperous, net-zero economy by 2050 requires both business leadership and ambitious government policies. By setting policies and targets in line with a 1.5°C trajectory, governments give business the clarity and confidence to invest decisively in the zero-carbon economies of the future.

The companies raising the bar for corporate climate ambition are committed to setting science-based targets through the SBTi, which independently assesses corporate emissions-reduction targets against the latest climate science. To date, 600 of the world’s largest businesses are setting science-based GHG-reduction targets aligned with the Paris Agreement. In April 2019, the SBTi released new target validation resources to enable companies to set targets consistent with 1.5°C.

“The science is clear: To limit the catastrophic impacts of climate change, we must ensure warming does not exceed 1.5°C. The ambition is high, but it’s achievable — and science-based targets give companies a roadmap for getting there,” said Paul Simpson, SBTi Board Member and CEO of CDP. “We urge all companies to seize this chance to align their business with a 1.5°C future and drive forward the transition to a net-zero carbon economy.”

The historic call-to-action issued in June came in the form of an open letter addressed to business leaders and signed by 25 global leaders, including Kingo, María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, President of the UN General Assembly; Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change; Christiana Figueres, co-founder of Global Optimism; John Denton, Secretary-General of the International Chamber of Commerce; and Paul Polman, SDG Advocate and co-founder of IMAGINE.

Ambitious CEOs who commit their companies to a 1.5°C trajectory in support of a net-zero future will be recognized at the UN Global Compact’s Private Sector Forum as part of the UN Climate Action Summit on 23 September.

To learn more about the Business Ambition for 1.5°C — Our Only Future campaign, please visit: unglobalcompact.org/OurOnlyFuture.

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