More and more companies are setting ambitious greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction targets that align with what the latest climate science says is necessary to limit warming to below 2°C and avoid the most dangerous impacts of climate change. Over 60 leading companies from a range of sectors and geographies have so far committed to setting science-based targets.
Companies with science-based targets include Coca Cola Enterprises, which will cut its emissions from operations by 50% from 2007 levels by 2020; Procter & Gamble, pledging to cut its emissions from operations by 30% from 2010 levels by 2020; and General Mills, targeting a 28% decrease from 2010 levels by 2025. All of these companies also have ambitious targets to reduce emissions in their value chain. These targets have been reviewed and approved by experts at the Science Based Targets initiative – a partnership between CDP, the UN Global Compact, WRI and WWF.
At an event hosted by the initiative this morning in New York, Autodesk, Colgate Palmolive, General Mills and NRG Energy will explain why setting science-based targets today is expected to give companies a competitive advantage in the low-carbon economy of tomorrow. They will be joined by Siemens, who will announce their commitment to set science-based targets.
There is a positive correlation between climate action and financial performance: companies with published emissions reduction targets delivered a better return on invested capital over a twelve-month period compared to those with no targets.
“Climate plays a significant role in the long term viability of our business. We recognize that we must do our part to protect and conserve natural resources. Our business depends on it and so does the planet,” said Catherine Gunsbury, director of sustainability and transparency at General Mills. “By establishing science-based targets that encompass our full value chain, we’re committing to a high level of ambition. Innovation and collaboration will be critical to realizing benefits for both our company and our shared planet.”
“Business will have to play a big part in delivering the emissions cuts that countries pledge to make at the UN Climate Change talks in Paris at the end of this year,” says Emma Stewart, head of sustainability solutions at Autodesk, a multinational software company based in California. “By setting out our plans early we can signal to political leaders that we take our responsibilities seriously.”
Target setting is now common practice for successful businesses: over 80% of the world’s 500 largest companies reported to CDP in 2014 that they have an emission reduction target. However, the majority of these targets are not ambitious enough to prevent dangerous levels of warming.
To remain on the 2°C pathway for 2020, global greenhouse gas emissions need to be 15 gigatonnes lower than currently predicted. With many companies’ short term targets due to expire soon, now is the perfect time to raise the bar, and inaugurate a new era of target setting.