More than 100 CEOs from some of the world’s largest companies, have urged world leaders to support “transformative policies” at the upcoming COP28 Climate Summit in a letter released by the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Tuesday.
The CEOs, whose individual emission reduction targets amount to an estimated 1.0 Gt CO2e by 2030, call for a massive scale-up of investment in renewable energy and power networks, streamlined permitting and regulatory processes to ensure a quicker transition to renewables, and the phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies in a just and equitable way.
It comes just days after a call to action from business leaders, led by the We Mean Business Coalition, urging governments to provide clarity and make progress on reducing fossil fuel use in the future in the run-up to the Dubai conference.
The latest IPCC report confirms that we are on track to exceed the critical barrier of 1.5 °C warming within the next two decades, setting us on a path to cascading climate tipping points and irreversible damage to the Earth’s planetary systems. To limit the average global temperature increase to 1.5 °C, we need to reduce emissions by 50% by 2030, which is more than the annual emission reductions achieved during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The scale of decarbonisation needed by 2030 is insurmountable unless we urgently work together to bend the emissions curve,” said Børge Brende, President of the World Economic Forum. “The pathway to these emissions reductions will be paved with a complex mix of the right policies, technologies and infrastructure – which is why public-private collaboration has never been more important.”
In order to achieve these goals, the letter calls on governments to lead by example. Public procurement consists of a significant share of GDP; 14% in the EU alone. Therefore, the letter urges governments to set ambitious, science-based procurement targets for government purchased works, goods, or services from companies.
Recognising their positive impact on climate action, the business leaders also call for the need to “harmonise climate disclosure standards” to reduce the burden on reporting companies. They call on standard-setters such as the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB), the European Commission, and the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to work together to achieve this goal.
While reducing emissions is key, the letter acknowledges that more is needed. Governments will need to “turbocharge” nature- and technology-based carbon removals, by setting appropriate carbon-removal targets, including them in their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) and National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs).
In addition to calling on governments and standard-setters to act, the CEOs also call on fellow business leaders to “raise their ambition” in taking action on climate change. This can be accomplished by setting science-based targets and increasing the transparency of their emissions by publicly disclosing emissions data through entities such as CDP.
Private investment is also seen as a powerful lever, with the CEOs calling on other businesses to increase investments in energy efficiency, carbon reduction, and technology- and nature-based removals. They believe this will not only make a meaningful contribution to global climate goals, but will also “drive sustainable value”.
“This open letter sends a powerful message to world leaders at COP28 to introduce bold and transformative policies that will help the private sector do its part to achieve the 50% emissions reductions that we need by 2030,” continues Brende.
This year’s COP28 conference in Dubai has a special focus, coinciding with both the IPCC’s sixth assessment report, which declared its “final warning” on the crises, and the UN’s global stocktake on progress against the Paris Agreement goals.
About the Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders
The Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders is a flagship decarbonisation initiative of the World Economic Forum. It comprises over 125 CEOs from 25 countries and 12 industries, representing a combined emission footprint of 5.2Gt, equal to the second-largest country in the world and 14% of global emissions.
Between 2019 and 2021, the Alliance reduced emissions by 10% in absolute terms, ahead of the Science Based Targets initiative’s (SBTi) absolute emission reduction targets. During the same period, emissions intensity decreased by 18%. Alliance members have made individual emission reduction targets amounting to an estimated 1.0 Gt CO2e by 2030, roughly equivalent to the size of Japan’s annual emission output.
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