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CVS, Levi Strauss, Nike Among Latest US Companies to Commit to Science-Based Emissions Targets

Ahead of Climate Week NYC 2017, which runs from September 18–24, a surge of global companies announced their commitment to the Science Based Targets Initiative, driving the number of businesses committed to setting science-based emissions reductions targets upwards of 300. This year, more than 90 new companies have joined, demonstrating the private sector's commitment to aligning its efforts to tackle climate change with the Paris Agreement’s goal to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius.

“As more and more companies see the advantages of setting science-based targets, the transition towards a low-carbon economy is becoming reality. Businesses now working towards ambitious targets are seeing benefits like increased innovation, cost savings, improved investor confidence and reduce regulatory uncertainty. This is becoming the new ‘normal’ in the business world, proving that a low-carbon economy is not only vital for consumers and the planet, but also for future-proofing growth,” said Lila Karbassi, Chief of Programs at UN Global Compact.

The apparel industry, in particular, has demonstrated its commitment to tackling climate change, with companies such as Gap Inc., NIKE, Inc., Levi Strauss & Co., GUESS, EILEEN FISHER and VF Corporation recently pledging to set science-based targets. Upwards of 90 percent of apparel brands’ emissions are from the value chain. Since apparel companies share many of the same suppliers, taking steps to reduce supply chain emissions can improve collaboration and create efficiencies across the industry.

Other new companies committed to set science-based targets include Cummins, Epsom, Mahindra Sanyo, Merck, CVS Health, Olam, Telefónica, Veolia Environnement, Wyndham Worldwide Corporation, amongst others. Together, companies that have joined the Science Based Targets Initiative to date represent an estimated $6.5 trillion in market value and are responsible for 750 million metric tons of CO2 emissions per year — the equivalent of 158 million cars being driven for one year. The companies span 35 countries and represent a wide range of sectors including manufacturing, power, retail, consumer goods, technology, chemicals, apparel, hospitality and banking.

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“Addressing issues like climate change and the transition to a sustainable, low-carbon future takes collaboration across our supply chain and with our industry peers,” said Eileen Howard Boone, SVP of Corporate Social Responsibility and Philanthropy of CVS Health. “Our commitment to developing science-based emissions reduction targets demonstrates our ongoing responsible growth strategy and the measurable actions we are taking to reduce our environmental impacts.”

So far, 50 US companies have committed to set science-based targets — more than any other country. Though the US has exited the Paris Agreement, this commitment demonstrates that the American business community is stepping up to drive climate action forward and confront the global challenge of climate change — even if without government support.

US companies participating in the Science Based Targets Initiative represent $2 trillion in market value and are responsible for 166 million metric tons of CO2 emissions per year.

Mars, which is headquartered in McLean, Virginia, last week had its target approved by the initiative. “Mars is very pleased to have our Sustainable in a Generation targets approved by the Science Based Targets Initiative, which we believe sets a new standard for responsible business growth,” said Kevin Rabinovitch, Global Sustainability Director of Mars. “We are using science to set long-term absolute greenhouse gas targets covering our entire value chain and look forward to others joining us.”

The Science Based Targets Initiative is a partnership between CDP, WRI, WWF and the UN Global Compact. Businesses who commit have two years to develop science-based targets, which are then closely reviewed by the initiative’s team of experts. Only targets that meet strict criteria are approved. Importantly, companies setting science-based targets must seek to not only reduce emissions in their own operations, but also within their value chains, which can move entire industries toward more efficient and greener supply chains. The initiative is also one of the We Mean Business coalition commitments.

As of today, a total of 72 science-based targets have been approved by the Science Based Targets initiative, including 41 this year. Companies that have recently received approval on their science-based targets include Adobe, Colgate-Palmolive, CVS Health, Eneco, Givaudan, HP Inc., Kering, Kirin Holdings, Marks & Spencer, Mars, Nestlé, Tesco and more.