The United Nations has said that 87 companies worth a collective $2.3 trillion have made a raft of environmental commitments, signing onto a set of environmental obligations aimed at curbing the rate of global warming to 1.5°C.
The companies have a reported emissions footprint of a reported 73 coal-fired plants.
The UN says it was a response to the “call to action issued in June by a group of businesses, civil society and UN leaders,” and collectively, the organisations represent more than 4.2 million employees across 28 business sectors in 27 countires around the globe. Those companies have now made a pledge to “align their businesses with what scientists say is needed to limit the world impacts of climate change”
They have, according to the UN’s Global Compact press release, those organisations ‘have committed to set climate targets across their operations and value chains aligned with limited global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and reaching net-zero emissions by no later than 2050.”
“Now we need many more companies to join the movement, sending a clear signal that markets are shifting.” UN Secretary-General.
The announcement came ahead of the UN’s Climate Action Summit, which was hosted by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, which provides an opportunity for businesses, governments and other institutions to align their business plans with actionable counter-measures to curb their rates of emissions.
“It is encouraging to see many first-movers in the private sector align with civil society and ambitious Governments by stepping up in support of a 1.5°C,” UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said. “Now we need many more companies to join the movement, sending a clear signal that markets are shifting.”
According to the UN, “Mr Guterres has challenges Governments to come to the Summit prepared to announce revamped national climate action plans and long-term net-zero targets. Demonstrating the private sector’s support for these efforts, companies are now leading the way in creating a positive feedback loop known as an ‘ambition loop,’ - with Government policies and private sector leadership reinforcing each other and together taking climate action to the next level.”
Lise Kingo, Executive Director and CEO of the UN Global Compact said “these bold companies are leading the way towards a positive tipping point where 1.5°C aligned corporate strategies are the new normal for businesses and their supply chains around the world. This is the type of transformative change we need to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals for both the people and planet,” she said.
“Warming beyond 1.5°C is a calamity we simply must not risk,” Andrew Steer, SBTi Board Member and president & CEO of World Resources Institute said. “Science-based targets provide a blueprint for companies to make a clear contribution to meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement, but we need all hands on deck. There is not a minute to lose,” he said.
The United Nations Global Compact was first launched back in 2000, and since then, has received 9500 signatures from companies, 3,000-non business signatories across 160 countries. The UN says it is the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative currently in existence.