The IPCC report: A final call to decarbonize for our future

10th Aug 2021

This week’s IPCC report has made clear what many of us already knew - there is no time to lose. The coming decades will shape our planet’s future, and if we continue down our current path, limiting warming to 1.5°C will become an impossibility. To stand a fighting chance of maintaining a habitable planet for ecosystems and humankind, we must urgently act on the clear warnings from climate science.

The science is explicit: human influence on the climate is severe, the impact of which can be felt everywhere. We are already experiencing the devastating impacts of climate breakdown and our current trajectory has the potential to be catastrophic. Some of these changes are irreversible. We must take immediate action to manage the consequences and prevent humanity reaching the tipping point of climate disaster.

The need for urgent climate action has never been more apparent. Every country, company and individual must play their part in limiting warming to 1.5°C. We have the time to do so, but only just.

The next few years are crucial to achieving the Paris Agreement. Global emissions must be halved by 2030 if we are to reach a global trajectory that aligns with 1.5°C, and the world is not yet on track.

The science shows that carbon dioxide remains the biggest driver of climate change, and that sustained cuts to GHG emissions would limit the impact of climate change. The path forward is clear: if we are to have a bright future on our planet, more companies must commit to robust decarbonization. Businesses have the power to address the climate emergency.

The role of science-based targets

Science-based target setting has evolved from a nascent concept in 2015 into a movement covering nearly 20% of the global economy. Recent data shows science-based targets are driving corporate decarbonization - between 2015 and 2020 companies with validated targets cut emissions by 25% compared with an increase of 3.4% in global energy and industrial emissions.

Science-based targets are now the de facto standard in realizing robust and urgent corporate climate ambition. We are proud to have mobilized more than 1600 companies in 60 countries and 50 sectors to take up the call.

Despite this incredible achievement, we know this is not yet enough. That’s why we launched a new, bold strategy last month. Our aim is to accelerate the domino effect of corporate climate ambition and to mainstream corporate action that aligns with the 1.5°C limit of the Paris Agreement.

Achieving net-zero emissions

In 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s Special Report on 1.5°C warned that global emissions must drop to net-zero by 2050 to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change.

However, since then, it has become clear that not all net-zero targets are created equal. The definition of net-zero and the path to get there varies and is often inconsistent. That’s why we are committed to defining good net-zero with the launch of our new Net-Zero Standard in October 2021.

This Standard will provide business leaders with a common, robust and science-based understanding of net-zero. The aim is to ensure that companies across the world follow a pathway that is consistent with addressing the climate crisis and keeping warming to 1.5°C.

World leaders must drive action

World leaders must provide incentives to companies in order to accelerate increasing ambition. COP26 in November represents a huge opportunity for countries to strengthen their Nationally Determined Contributions and lay out clear action plans towards consistent climate policies and the implementation of support measures for 1.5°C-aligned developments across all sectors of the economy.

We know that, despite significant progress in science-based target setting in G7 countries, no major G7 index is currently aligned with the Paris Agreement goals. Unsurprisingly, G7 indexes with a higher share of emissions covered by science-based targets result in lower overall temperature ratings. The momentum for climate action in G7 countries is growing, and we call on all businesses to make their critical contribution in the race against climate change.

Science must continue to be the basis for robust decision-making, and serve as the springboard that transforms policy into action. A net-zero society is our ultimate - and only - future. Business leaders must be confident that their targets align with climate science.

There is no time to lose, and much to be done. The opportunity to turn the tide on the wave of climate change is slim but very much in our hands. Every fraction of a degree matters. With the science behind us, we have the tools we need to build a better, greener society - if only we take bold action today.

To contact our expert team about setting a science-based target, email [email protected].