News & Views

The Business End of Climate Change

Business alone could fulfil 60 per cent of carbon reduction pledges made by countries under the Paris Climate Agreement, says a new report from CDP and the We Mean Business coalition.

At COP21, world leaders collaborated on an unprecedented scale and agreed to a goal of limiting global warming to below 2°C. The governments of 193 states now have primary responsibility for upholding the terms of the legally binding agreement.

With the agreement in place, the business community is also expected to contribute to the fight against climate change.

The new report examines what will be achieved by the plans of five key global business initiatives on climate action currently underway – 100% renewable energy, doubling energy productivity, science based targets, zero deforestation and low carbon technology partnerships – and compares this to what could happen if all relevant companies were to sign up to these initiatives and implement their plans.

Many companies have already taken action by committing to these carbon reduction initiatives. For example, over the past year, more than two companies per week have committed to set Science Based Targets (SBTs) – a joint initiative by CDP, the UN Global Compact, World Resources Institute (WRI) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

The report shows that:

  • The current Business Determined Contribution (BDC) to climate action – the amount that, by 2030, business will cut its greenhouse gas emissions – is 3.7bn metric tons of CO2 equivalent a year under current plans. This represents over 60% of the total emissions cuts (6bn metric tonnes by 2030) pledged by all countries in the Paris Climate Agreement. This is the equivalent of taking over 1,000 coal-fired power stations permanently out of use, almost 75% of the world’s total;
  • The potential BDC to climate action could be as high as 10bn metric tons of CO2 equivalent a year by 2030 with the right policy environment that supports all relevant companies signing up to these key initiatives;
  • The number of companies signing up to these initiatives could rise from 300 today to over 3500 by 2030.

There is good reason for business to tackle climate change, and business is not waiting to play its part as evidenced by the 300 leading companies already committed to these initiatives and other initiatives including the UN’s Caring for Climate platform. Current global temperature trajectories pose a risk to businesses whose valuation relies on ‘business-as-usual’ scenarios. Those who are acting early to tackle climate change will build resilience into their business strategies and ensure long-term business success.

For more information, access the Business End of Climate Change Report or Business Summary.

If you would like to understand more about UN Global Compact’s work with the private sector to tackle climate change, please explore the Caring for Climate platform, Science Based Targets initiative or broader We Mean Business initiative.