Ga verder naar de inhoud

Businesses commit to a carbon neutral world, but a massive scale-up is necessary, says WWF

WWF Belgium

This week, the World Meteorological Organization warned that we risk already reaching the average global temperature of 1.5° Celsius by 2027, which science believes is a major turning point at which climate effects will become increasingly damaging. The business community urgently needs to scale up its efforts to achieve a climate neutral world, says WWF, following the third progress report of the Science Based Target initiative.

Untitled design 11

The SBTi [1] progress report shows that by the end of last year, more than 2250 companies in 70 countries, worth $38 trillion, had signed up for Science Based Targets to reduce their emissions in line with the Paris Agreement climate target. The Belgian Alliance for Climate Action, founded by WWF-Belgium and sustainability network The Shift, also noted an exponential growth in companies taking climate action. All these companies must now do everything in their power to quickly take structural measures to meet those targets, emphasizes WWF.

The report 'SCIENCE-BASED NET-ZERO - Scaling Urgent Corporate Climate Action Worldwide' shows that in 2021, the number of companies committed to reducing their emissions in line with the Paris Agreement's 1.5°C maximum warming target by 2050 doubled to 2,253 companies. The goal is Net Zero, which is when their emissions are reduced to almost 100%. What is not technically possible with the state of the art at that point in time, committed organizations must offset through carbon capture and storage (such as CCS or Carbon Capture and Storage techniques or nature-based solutions), but this must only concern a very limited percentage of their original emissions.

Between 2015 and 2021, the volume of emissions recorded by SBTi for the companies that committed themselves increased more than tenfold, from 145 million to 1.5 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalents. This is equivalent to the annual emissions of Japan and Brazil combined in 2020.

Untitled design 8

Energy-intensive sectors lag behind

Most of the committed companies are active in the service sector but also in manufacturing, food, beverages and agro-industry. Some new sectors such as biotech, healthcare and pharmaceuticals have crossed the 20% threshold in 2021. However, energy-intensive sectors such as power generation and construction are lagging behind. SBTi is now taking initiatives to persuade these companies to commit as well.

Belgium among the fastest growing countries for SBTs

The Belgian Alliance for Climate Action or BACA is an initiative of WWF Belgium and the sustainability network The Shift. It is a national platform of companies and to a limited extent non-profit organizations and academia[2] that join forces to set and meet science-based CO2 emission reduction targets or Science Based Targets (SBTs). As of 12 May 2022, there are 97 members representing 178,665 employees and a combined turnover of 50.86 billion. Of the 97 BACA members, 21 have officially committed to SBTs, 36 companies have validated Science Based Targets and 40 are still at the start of their SBT process. BACA members also include 7 Bel20 companies (Cofinimmo, Colruyt group, Elia, Proximus, Solvay, UCB and Umicore).

Like BACA, alliances for climate action are forming all over the world, including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, China, Ireland, India, Mexico, Austria, Vietnam and the United States. With 61 companies that have SBTs or have committed to SBTs, Belgium is in a shared 13th place (together with Australia). It trails Finland (56 companies), Italy (54 companies) and Canada (52 companies). The top 3 consists of the United Kingdom (523 companies), the United States (429 companies) and Japan (239 companies).

The global economy needs to halve its emissions by 2030 to meet the Paris Agreement target. However, we are not yet on track to do so. The rapid growth of companies with SBTs is a reason for cautious optimism, but the watchword is and remains ‘scaling up’. Those who also want to secure their business for the future, join the BACA community.

[1] The Science Based Target initiative was created by CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project), the UN Global Compact, the World Resources Institute and WWF to help companies set science-based targets that put them on the path to the 1.5°C maximum warming mentioned in the Paris Agreement. Companies have an important role to play in the transition to a carbon-neutral society, but they need guidelines based on the latest climate science.

[2] The SBT method can also be used for non-profit and academic institutions, but they cannot get validation so far. These organizations can therefore go through the entire SBTi process up to the validation step and then follow their calculated targets and take steps to achieve them.