Following a flurry of new corporate initiatives on climate change, a new report estimates that the private sector could deliver nearly two thirds of global emissions targets by 2030.
The report, The Business End of Climate Change, is the first attempt to calculate the emissions cuts to be delivered by the private sector as part of the climate change targets agreed by countries at a major global summit in Paris in December 2015.
At the Paris summit, countries agreed to deliver emissions cuts of 6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) per year by 2030.
According to the report, which was compiled by the We Mean Business coalition, businesses could deliver 3.7 billion tonnes of this target. This would be equivalent to shutting down three quarters of the world’s coal power plants.
The report looks at five global initiatives that are gaining traction in the corporate world:
- RE100: commitment to run on 100 per cent renewable power, including companies such as IKEA, Google, Coca Cola Enterprises, H&M, Johnson & Johnson, Mars, M&S, Unilever and TetraPak
- EP100: commitment to double energy productivity, including companies such as global technology firm, Johnson Controls Inc and polymer manufacturer, Covestro AG
- Science Based Targets: setting targets in line with what science says is necessary to tackle climate change, including companies such as Coca Cola Enterprises, Kellogg’s, Mars, Nestle, Renault and AstraZeneca
- Zero Deforestation: commitment to use only commodities produced without causing deforestation, including companies such as Unilever, Mars and HP
- Low Carbon Technology Partnerships initiative (LCTPi): a collaborative platform to accelerate the development and deployment of low carbon technologies, including companies such as Audi, PepsiCo, DuPont and Diageo plc.
Around 300 global companies are currently signed up to one or more of these initiatives, but under a best case scenario the report estimates that more than 3,500 will have joined by 2030.
Nigel Topping, chief executive of We Mean Business, called on leading companies to raise the ambition of their peers by “demonstrating the scale of the economic opportunity” presented by climate change.
“Businesses that are yet to commit should follow the strong lead of the companies who have already signed up”, he added.
As well as putting measures in place in their own premises, the global companies working towards these goals are also taking measures in their supply chains to improve performance.
For example, Steve Howard, chief sustainability officer at IKEA, has said that committing to continual improvement was “part and parcel of doing business with IKEA”.
Speaking to BusinessGreen in June, he said: “The supply chains are very powerful - you can share best practice, you can co-invest, you can share education around techniques and you can give a gentle nudge through the procuring business to encourage people in the right direction. I think that's a huge lever for change.”