Corporate climate action: What exactly is enough?
In 2017, the Carbon Majors Report found that just 100 companies are responsible for 71% of total global emissions. More than that, the report pinpointed 25 corporate and state-owned entities that were the source of more than half of global industrial emissions since 1988. The UN has also declared recently that we have until 2030 before irreversible damage to the planet (and the climate) starts to set in.
With this corporate climate reckoning in the public eye, companies have been changing. Since 2017, there has been a 12% increase in energy and climate-related targets from the largest companies in the U.S and now 60% of Fortune 500 companies have set climate and energy usage goals. However, what those goals entail varies wildly between companies.
So are these new climate goals meeting the mark? And what exactly is ‘enough’?
A new report from the WWF says that many corporate climate goals are not enough to prevent the worst of climate change. Only 1 in 5 Fortune 500 companies have set climate and energy usage goals that would be considered a ‘science-based goal’ set by the Science Based Target Initiative (SBTI). The SBTI provides companies and organisations specific pathway goals that are in line with the Paris Agreement (which limits global warming to below 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels and pursues efforts to limit warming to 1.5 degrees C).
That’s right - not all climate goals are created equal!
“More and more companies are setting voluntary climate goals and increasing their climate ambition, however, it’s still not enough to stave off the worst impacts of climate change,” said Marcene Mitchell, WWF’s senior vice president for climate change. “This report clearly shows that strong federal, state and local policy is needed to complement the voluntary actions these leading companies are taking on.”
So how can we create change?
There were some glimmers of hope in this WWF report. The number of companies switching to 100% renewable energy has doubled to 58 since 2017. With specific and measurable climate goals and a clear pathway to carbon neutrality set by organisations such as the Science Based Target Initiative and both local and international governing bodies, there is a clear way forward for large companies and corporate entities.
We’ve got more good news - anyone that works for, invests in, or buys from a company has a little power! Ask yourself - in my position as a stakeholder in this company, what actions can I take? Switching to a more sustainable brand, voicing concerns on social media, starting an employee green group, or just letting HR know this is an important issue to you as an employee? Plenty of firms have a lot of work to do - even Google employees staged a global walk-out in 2019!
Change from within is a powerful force, and with employees taking workplace climate action seriously, this can help move organisations in the right direction. Nearly 40% of Millennials said they've chosen a job at a company that outperformed another when it came to sustainability. In a different survey from 2016, 64% of Millennials said that they wouldn’t take a job at a company that wasn’t socially responsible and 75% of Millennials said that they would take a smaller salary in order to work at a company that aligned with their values.
With more and more global civilians aware of the damage of climate change, we must push our workplaces and our local governments to take climate regulation and climate action seriously.
Are you part of a company or organisation looking to mobilise a planet friendly workforce? Find out more about how Capture can help you track emissions from employee travel, and get colleagues involved in sustainability challenges. Reach out to via LinkedIn or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org