The Paris Agreement on climate change unexpectedly contained a higher level ambition, with governments resolving to pursue efforts to go beyond the 2°C goal and limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. But two years after the Paris Agreement was signed, with global warming already hitting 1°C, national or organisational commitments that align with a 1.5°C pathway are practically non-existent.
According to the latest UN projections, meeting the national emissions reduction pledges made in Paris would put the world on track for between 2.9 to 3.4oC of warming this century. And this was prior to the Trump administration signalling US withdrawal from the agreement.
Against this backdrop, three major corporates – BT, Carlsberg Group and Tesco – have become the first significant emitters globally to reveal that they have set science-based targets aligning their own emissions reductions along a trajectory in line with achieving a 1.5°C goal. And these business commitments have recently been joined by the government of New York City, which last week also committed to its own 1.5°C plan.
To support organisations that want to set their own 1.5°C goals, the Carbon Trust is today launching a new report at the London Stock Exchange, titled ‘Aim Higher: How can business help achieve the 1.5°C ambition in the Paris Agreement?’.
The report is based on a series of engagements with businesses and wider stakeholders from government, academia and NGOs to explore how to overcome the challenges in aligning corporate climate action with a 1.5°C pathway.
Hugh Jones, Managing Director of Business Advice at the Carbon Trust, said:
“The science tells us that 1.5°C is possible in principle, but it will require bold action to get our economy close to zero emissions by the middle of the century. The good news is that major corporates can now genuinely see a roadmap to zero carbon, a route which can be profitable both for businesses and the planet. Setting high ambition goals helps to create a virtuous circle of climate action, giving policy makers the confidence to push harder, creating a market that will reward more sustainable businesses, and encouraging the development of the innovative products we will need to solve climate change.”
The report includes practical recommendations such as how to make the transition to zero carbon electricity and transportation, as well as exploring how to build a business case towards the more radical changes that will enable companies in most sectors to reach net zero carbon emissions by the middle of this century.
The report also discusses longer term opportunities for businesses to introduce negative emissions options that actively remove carbon from the atmosphere later this century, which will be required under the majority of scenarios where 1.5°C is likely. These range from natural solutions such as tree planting and better land management, through to technologies that will require innovation and cost reduction such as carbon negative building products or bioenergy with carbon capture and storage.
Gabrielle Ginér, Head of Sustainable Business Policy at BT, said:
“At BT we are proud that we have become one of the first companies globally commit to a higher ambition science-based target, aligned with what is required to limit global warming to 1.5°C. Of course this will be challenging, but we can now see a clear path to understand how this can be achieved in a way that is not just good for the environment, but also good for us as a business and for the wider economy. But the only way we can achieve a 1.5°C world is through collaboration and collective effort, so we would love to share what we have done to help other companies accelerate their efforts.”
Simon Boas Hoffmeyer, Sustainability Director at Carlsberg Group, said:
“Carlsberg has a heritage going back to the early days of the industrial revolution. We are convinced that to survive and succeed in a sustainable future we need to take bold action on climate change. This is why we are working towards zero emissions at our breweries by 2030, with an interim goal of powering them 100% with electricity from renewable sources and completely phasing out coal for heat by 2022.
“We are also working closely with our suppliers and customers to reduce emissions outside our direct operations, aiming for a 30% lower beer-in-hand carbon footprint. The targets in our Together Towards Zero plan are ambitious, yet we believe that it is necessary to show that a 1.5°C trajectory is possible, where our actions and investments will benefit both Carlsberg and society as a whole.”
Kené Umeasiegbu, Head of Environment at Tesco, said:
“Ten years ago we set ourselves the goal of becoming a zero carbon business by 2050. We’ve made huge steps forward over the past decade which are saving us around £200 million a year just from our electricity bills. But our current rate of improvement still doesn’t put us on track to get to zero soon enough, so we have introduced even tougher targets to put us in line with what will be required to hit the 1.5°C aspiration in the Paris Agreement. As part of this we have committed to use 100% renewable electricity by 2030.
“As a retailer we know the majority of the emissions associated with our business come from our supply chain – including agriculture emissions. To act on this, we will be working with our suppliers to encourage them to also adopt a credible, science-based approach to cutting carbon, with the goal of reducing our indirect emissions by 17% by 2030.”
For more information please contact the Carbon Trust press office on +44 (0) 20 7170 7050 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The full report can be accessed at: www.carbontrust.com/onepointfive
- Understand your carbon footprint: identify hotspots of emissions across the full value chain and identify opportunities for improved efficiency and cost saving.
- Develop a roadmap to zero emissions: set out the practical steps required to deliver core products or services in a zero carbon future.
- Set science-based targets: use the best available climate science to align emissions reductions goals with the requirements of a 1.5°C pathway.
- Invest in energy efficiency: implement cost-effective opportunities to improve the efficiency of your buildings, fleet and industrial processes.
- Switch to zero carbon electricity: invest in on-site renewable electricity generation and switching to electricity tariffs backed up by guarantees of origin.
- Move towards zero emissions transportation: understand options for vehicles powered by non-fossil fuel sources, such as batteries, hydrogen and biofuels.
- Decarbonise heating and cooling: replace existing fossil fuel sources of heating and cooling with more efficient or cleaner alternatives.
- Take action in the supply chain: drive supplier emissions reductions, improving efficiency and performance, at the same time as exploring transformational changes.
- Use an internal carbon price: implementing an internal carbon price can mitigate transition risks and improve decision making around investments.
- Introduce options for negative emissions: explore long term potential to economically include negative emissions within a business model or supply chain.
About the Carbon Trust
The Carbon Trust is an independent, expert partner of leading organisations around the world, helping them contribute to and benefit from a more sustainable future through carbon reduction, resource efficiency strategies and commercialising low carbon technologies.
Working with governments and multilateral organisations, businesses and the public sector, the Carbon Trust has approximately 180 experts of 30 different nationalities based in the UK, China, Mexico, Brazil, India and South Africa.