2050 is looming, and dozens of businesses are adopting more aggressive, short-term reduction targets, science-based Scope 3 goals that include their supply chains, and more concrete strategies for meeting the Sustainable Development Goals.
But the stark reality is that the world needs thousands more companies of all sizes and across all industries to do the same, according to the increasingly grim data on the warming planet.
“The best science, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, tells us that any temperature rise above 1.5 degrees [Celsius] will lead to major and irreversible damage to the ecosystems that support us,” said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres in remarks prepared for the United Nations Climate Action Summit last week in New York. “Science tells us that on our current path, we face at least 3 degrees Celsius of global heating by the end of the century.”
And as Swedish firebrand Greta Thunberg and millions of schoolchildren are urging with increasing frequency, the adults — especially elected officials and those in positions of corporate power — should be held accountable for their inaction.
“It is up to us in positions of responsibility to act with greater speed than we are now,” former Secretary of State John Kerry, the lead U.S. negotiator on the Paris Agreement, told assembled business and government leaders during the opening ceremony of Climate Week in New York. “We need to aggregate our efforts like never before, recognizing that the business community can lead like no other.”
Welcome to “World War Zero,” as Kerry has branded a new campaign — to be launched more formally in coming weeks — that unites grassroots activities with influential, international leaders including Kerry, former Environmental Protection Agency chief Gina McCarthy and former U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz. The aim is simple: identify obstructionists who are holding up progress, and make those names known loud and clear.
“We need to create political accountability,” Kerry said. “We are building an army of experts from the United States and abroad. We will isolate those who don’t support [action].”
(Some) companies do their part
Against the snarl of United Nations traffic and protesting climate activists young and not-so-young, Kerry’s words underscored the frustration many familiar marshals of the corporate climate offensive often express privately. It also gave them more ammunition to fuel their own offensives in what will be a long-fought war.
Leading the advance were close to 90 companies that have stepped forward in collaboration with the U.N. Global Compact to pledge science-based targets for holding rising global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius and that will position their operations — including their supply chains, a far more complicated proposition — to become net-zero by 2050. Essentially, their aim is to beat the mandate of the Paris Agreement, because national governments are falling down on the job. (…)
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