155 companies — with a combined market capitalization of more than $2.4 trillion and representing more than 5 million employees — have signed a statement backed by the UN Secretary General urging governments around the world to align their covid-19 economic aid and recovery efforts with the latest climate science.
As debates on recovery packages around the world ramp up in the coming weeks, the companies, which are all part of the Science Based Targets initiative, are calling for policies that will build resilience against future shocks by supporting efforts to hold global temperature rise to within 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, in line with reaching net-zero emissions well before 2050.
The signatories span 34 sectors and have headquarters in 33 countries. They include Adobe, Carlsberg Group, Coca-Cola European Partners, Colgate Palmolive Co., EDF Group, Electrolux, H&M Group, Mars, Nestlé, Orange, Salesforce, Telefonica, The Co-op, and Vodafone Group.
The statement is backed by the UN Secretary General António Guterres, who said “Saving lives and livelihoods, and building a prosperous, inclusive and sustainable future, are at the heart of our efforts to recover from COVID-19. We can beat the virus, address climate change and create new jobs through actions that move us from the grey to green economy. Many companies are showing us that it is indeed possible and profitable, to adopt sustainable, emission-reducing plans even during difficult times like this. I warmly welcome the ambitious, science-based actions we are seeing from leading companies who are demonstrating to policy-makers that green growth remains the best growth strategy.”
The statement comes as governments around the world are preparing trillions of dollars worth of stimulus packages to help economies recover from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, and as they prepare to submit enhanced national climate plans under the Paris Agreement. In the coming weeks, several major economies will take key decisions in their recovery efforts, including the European Union Recovery Plan, new stimulus packages from the United States of America and India, and the G7 Heads of State summit in June.
The 155 companies have already set — or committed to set — science-based emissions reduction targets. By signing the statement, they are reaffirming that their own decisions and actions remain grounded in science, while calling on governments to “prioritize a faster and fairer transition from a grey to a green economy.” Policy and spending that incorporates climate targets will reduce vulnerability to future shocks and disasters, create good jobs, reduce emissions and ensure clean air, according to a study from Oxford University.
The business voices are convened by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) and its Business Ambition for 1.5°C campaign partners, the UN Global Compact and the We Mean Business coalition. The SBTi, which is a collaboration between CDP, the UN Global Compact, World Resources Institute and WWF, independently assesses and validates corporate climate targets against the latest climate science.
“Governments have a critical role to play by aligning policies and recovery plans with the latest climate science, but they cannot drive a systemic socio-economic transformation alone. To address the interconnected crises we face, we must work together as an international community to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement,” said Lila Karbassi, Chief of Programmes at the UN Global Compact, and Science Based Targets initiative Board Member. “As the largest ever UN-backed CEO-led climate advocacy effort, these companies are leading the way in driving ambitious science-based action and advocacy to help reduce vulnerability to future shocks and disasters.”