Can business play a leadership role in meeting 1.5°C ambitions on climate change through science-based targets?

The Carbon Trust hosted an event at the UK Parliament’s House of Commons to explore how leading corporates could play a role in meeting the higher level of ambition recognised in the Paris Agreement on climate change, by working to keep global warming below 1.5°C.

Responsible businesses have in many cases already set themselves more stretching goals on climate change than many of the countries involved in the UN talks. Hugh Jones, Managing Director of Advisory at the Carbon Trust explained how there were several emerging trends where business is showing how it is possible to act on climate in a way that makes good economic sense, such as action in the supply chain or through using internal carbon pricing.

Of perhaps greatest significance, Jones highlighted how the practice of companies setting science-based targets on carbon emissions had really taken off since the Paris climate talks. There are now over 200 companies that have committed to setting science-based targets based on what the best available evidence suggests will be required to limit global warming to below 2°C. But working with the Carbon Trust, BT Group has become one of the first companies in the world to seriously consider what 1.5°C might mean for the company and how this goal might be achieved.

Describing the sustainability journey already taken by BT Group since the early 1990s, Gabrielle Ginér, the company’s Head of Sustainable Business Policy, said that the forward-looking strategy relied on three key elements: setting meaningful, science-based goals; moving towards 100% renewable energy globally; and collaborating with others towards common goals.

Matthew Bell, Chief Executive of the UK government’s Committee on Climate Change, explained at the event that although there is currently only limited understanding of what will be required in order to meet a 1.5°C target, it is likely that businesses will need to achieve net zero emissions within a 20 to 30 year timeframe.

In early 2017 the Carbon Trust will be hosting follow-up events for corporates and other key stakeholders to discuss the role for large businesses in raising ambitions to 1.5°C, to get a better understanding of the practical and technical challenges this will involve.

If you would like to explore how your organisation can play a part in a 1.5°C world and get involved please get in touch.