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The Next Economy
155 Business Leaders Push Governments for Net-Zero COVID-Recovery Plan

In the largest-ever, UN-backed, CEO-led climate advocacy effort, major multinationals — all part of the Science Based Targets initiative — reaffirm their own commitments to achieving zero-carbon economy and call on governments to match their ambition.

Hot on the heels of CeresLEAD on Climate 2020 virtual advocacy event last week — during which over 250 business leaders and investors called on the US Congress to lay groundwork for a more resilient, sustainable economy post COVID-19 — and echoing similar calls by groups such as the Under2 Coalition of 220 state and regional governments, 155 global companies have today released a joint statement urging governments around the world to align their COVID-19 economic aid and recovery efforts with the latest climate science.

With a combined market cap of over US$2.4 trillion and representing over 5 million employees, the signatories — which include Adobe, Burberry, Carlsberg Group, Coca-Cola European Partners, Colgate Palmolive, EDF Group, Electrolux, H&M Group, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Mars, Nestlé, Orange, Salesforce, Telefonica, The Co-op, Unilever, Vattenfall and Vodafone Group — are all part of the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) and its Business Ambition for 1.5°C campaign. Together, they are amplifying the growing call from leaders across all industries and sectors for the widespread adoption of policies that will help future-proof the global economy — by supporting efforts to hold global temperature rise to within 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, in line with reaching net-zero emissions well before 2050.

The statement comes as governments around the world are deciding how to direct trillions of dollars’ worth of stimulus packages and implement new policies and strategies to help their economies recover from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. In the coming weeks, several major economies will make key decisions in their recovery efforts, including the European Union Recovery Plan, new stimulus packages from the US and India, and the G7 Heads of State summit in June.

According to an Oxford University study released earlier this month, recovery policies that address the COVID and climate crises in tandem will reduce vulnerability to future shocks and disasters, create jobs, reduce emissions and greatly improve air quality. According to an SBTi impact report released in December, just 285 of the hundreds of companies now working toward science-based emissions-reduction goals through SBTi — which, collectively, are responsible for more than 752 million metric tons of CO2-equivalent emissions per year from their operations (more than the combined annual emissions of France and Spain) — will, through these commitments, reduce 265 million metric tons of CO2e (approximately equivalent to shutting down 68 coal-fired power plants) — an average annual reduction of 35 percent compared to base year emissions. 

“It is imperative that we not only restart the world economy – but also reset it. It would be a tragedy if after spending $10-20 trillion of public money we simply rebuild the same unequal, vulnerable and high-carbon economy we had before,” said Dr. Andrew Steer, President and CEO of World Resources Institute and SBTi Board member. “We applaud the leaders of these 155 companies, who are not only committed to resetting their own companies but are also demanding that the world’s governments act in the light of the best science and best economics which shows that climate-smart policies will create more jobs and stimulate resilient, inclusive economic growth.”

At the C40 World Mayors Summit in October, mayors of 94 major cities recognized a global climate emergency and announced their support for a Global Green New Deal to lead the world toward a resilient economy — time will tell if governments push forward or resort to business as usual post COVID.

Read more about the call to action and see the full list of signatories here