Corporate and sub-national leadership on setting long-term climate targets
Corporations and sub-national governments are already taking a leading role on responding proactively to climate change by setting ambitious, long-term targets that are in line with science. Strong national and international policy incentives are essential to encourage and support the action necessary to meet the challenges climate change presents—but these leading non-state actors are acting in advance of any comprehensive international agreement because, for them, the business case for taking action is already clear.
In 2014, 35 companies, 22 cities, and 9 states and regions globally disclosed to CDP and its partners that they have set targets reaching up to 100% in emissions reductions—with goals extending to 2050. They are taking action at a crucial time in the global dialogue on climate change. Analysis from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)—the preeminent global experts on climate science—shows clearly that current global emissions must be drastically cut in order to limit temperature change to below a 2°C increase from pre-industrial levels. Globally, 41 companies have already committed to work toward this goal by setting targets that are aligned with a 2°C pathway.
Combined, the companies and sub-national governments setting these targets represent more than two billion metric tonnes in emissions across their value chains, which represents more than 4% of annual worldwide emissions. These leading companies are demonstrating that setting long-term and science-based targets does not inhibit their
financial performance, but rather helps hedge against climate risk and a potentially resource-constrained future, driving innovation and unlocking new revenue streams—and companies that set them are seeing stronger returns on their investments than their peers.
Sub-national governments are also showing leadership in setting and working toward long-term targets. In doing so, they are becoming more energy efficient and reducing costs, while ensuring the long-term health of their citizens and creating an environment where businesses can operate successfully in the transition to a low-carbon economy.
These corporations and governments have taken a long-term approach to their organizational strategies, ensuring that they will be resilient—and financially strong—in the transition to a low-carbon economy. Now national governments need to follow suit. Effective national policies and regulations encourage and support corporations in setting long-term, science-based targets in a way that will drive sufficient change.