Last month’s IPCC report sent a chill down the collective spine of the sustainability community. Although the window to fend off the worst outcomes of the climate crisis is closing fast, there are reasons to remain optimistic. As difficult as the path ahead will be, we can still limit warming to no more than 1.5°C.
The IPCC report should do more than ring alarm bells – it should spur major players in the global economy to act immediately to mitigate against the climate crisis and protect our environment. In the aftermath of the report, and with COP26 fast approaching, this Climate Week is a moment for us to take stock and reassess whether our current goals and initiatives will truly help us achieve a net-zero world by 2050.
This Climate Week, I urge all investors, companies, policymakers and municipal governments to marry bold ambition with tangible action in order to meet the challenge of the climate crisis. We can’t sacrifice one for the other.
We are seeing an exponential uptick in ambition
A wave of corporate net-zero pledges made headlines this year, but the capital markets have paved the way for progress, too; from a finance perspective, capital is ready to be allocated at a historic scale. There are many indicators: Say on Climate is normalizing climate action transition planning at major corporate shareholder meetings. We’re seeing a transformation of the finance sector – just look to the 128 investor signatories with US$43 trillion in assets under management who have joined the Net Zero Asset Managers Initiative. Policymakers are stepping up: national governments are under pressure to announce stronger NDCs at COP26 at the end of this year, with some of the biggest polluters like China and the U.S. taking more responsibility for emissions reduction than ever before. And over 700 cities globally are now racing to zero emissions and many are setting science-based targets for the first time.
Alongside heightened ambition, we are seeing tangible progress
CDP disclosure data houses a treasure trove of stories and projects by disclosing companies, cities, states and regions that are driving emissions reductions in real time. These actions take many forms, from investment in new projects, to significant shifts in an organization’s model, to launching new low-carbon products and services. By taking such actions, these organizations are walking the walk, not just talking the talk.
But we must see all stakeholders in the global economy make ambitious commitments and demonstrate tangible action to reach those goals – not just the minority that make up the vanguard. These individual ambitions and action add up, showing the forcefulness by which private, capital market and subnational actors are taking climate change seriously. By committing to robust climate action, they are sending strong signals to international governments that they support more ambitious climate policies.
For those looking to lead the way to a better, more sustainable future, your path is clear:
- Demonstrate bold ambition ahead of COP26. Your GHG reduction targets must be robust, 1.5°C-aligned and in line with what science demands.
- Take immediate action now by setting interim targets and releasing your transition plans. In doing so, you can change the rate of change, accelerating progress toward a net-zero world.
- Show us your tangible progress. How many of your R&D dollars have gone into sustainability? Investment in low-carbon project development is an indicator that your organization – be it a corporation or a municipal government – is thinking ahead.
- Collaborate with others, beyond the “usual suspects.” Collaboration on sustainability initiatives drives progress faster, achieves co-benefits and enhances social equity. By collaborating, your organization can share your sustainability story and journey and harness voices and ideas that have been historically excluded from boardrooms and city halls.
CDP is a lever for change
As you determine your next goals and steps ahead, consider CDP your partner for progress. We are an implementation mechanism as much as we are a great convener of major players in the movement. CDP brings together groups that normally do not interact around sustainability solutions, introduces them to best practices and holds them accountable to the commitments they make. By working with CDP, your organization can turn bold ambition into tangible action.
We are all standing behind the science this Climate Week. The deadly and destructive floods, hurricanes, fires and pandemics we have witnessed in 2021 alone prove that the longer we wait, the harder it will be to mitigate the increasing amount of societal and environmental devastation. With the spotlight this week on those who have committed to sustainability, know that your organization’s stakeholders are watching to see what you do in the run up to COP26 – and one important stakeholder is the public. Their eyes are on you, so what will you pledge to next? And, just as importantly, what will you do now to make those pledges a reality?