Monday 28 February 2022 (London). Responding to the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report, the Working Group II report, CDP's Chief Impact Officer Nicolette Bartlett said:
“Today’s stark depiction of escalating climate impacts should light a fire under governments and corporates in the high-emitting economies most responsible for climate change, whose lack of action to date disproportionally affects the most vulnerable across the planet and pushes the world ever closer to a point of no return.
In addition to its impact on people and planet, climate change is the single greatest risk to the global economy. Companies must prepare themselves for the impacts of climate change and show that they have the ability to adapt, be it through resilient supply chains or business models, efforts toward adaptation are now the minimum requirement for survival. Inaction is a foolish business risk no company can afford. Measuring and managing environmental risks through disclosure will help to build resilience and plan for the future. There are a wealth of frameworks and standards to guide corporates through that process in line with best practice.
This isn’t just about risk and the need to adapt, however. Today’s IPCC report demonstrates once again the clear scientific links that can be drawn between impacts and climate change, with growing evidence of who the drivers of climate change are. We know without a doubt that the private sector is essential. CDP's groundbreaking 2017 'carbon major’s’ report found that 100 companies are responsible for 71% of global industrial greenhouse gas emissions, and in 2021 it was shown that listed companies alone are responsible for 40% of global emissions. Corporate disclosures to CDP show a steady increase in the number of companies disclosing potential substantive litigation risks, almost quadrupling since 2018. Climate litigation cases have soared in recent years. We expect this, and other risk disclosure- such as physical damage, compliance costing and insurance- to only increase in the next few years, as the impacts of climate change become clear, more measurable, evidence of a lack of action mounts and calls for accountability continue to increase.
Today’s findings make a focus on immediate emission reductions even more critical. Adaptation will become harder, and near impossible, if warming continues at the current pace and the planet passes tipping point after tipping point and suffers irreversible impacts. Five-year transition plans outlining how companies will transition to the 1.5°C-aligned business model, how their capital allocation will align with this and what governance the company has in place to ensure delivery will be essential for short-term action. Credible transition plans toward a net-zero future must include increasing and tracked adaptation measures if they are to be truly effective, alongside robust, science-based 2030 targets. The reality remains that companies need to halve emissions by 2030 if we are to have any chance of limiting global warming.
Urban populations, particularly those by the sea, are identified by the IPCC as being amongst the most vulnerable to climate impacts and risks. 93% of cities face significant climate risks and for 74% of cities, climate change is increasing risks to already vulnerable populations. Yet, according to CDP data, over half of cities lack plans to keep populations safe from climate threats. Actions cities can, and are, taking to build resilience include tree planting and greening, to developing hazard resistant infrastructure. Alongside planning for adaptation and building resilience, cities must also rapidly decarbonize. Cities can and must set science-based targets to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. However, these must be supported by mid-term, 2030 targets, to contribute to the global goal of halving emissions by 2030. National governments must ensure that their cities have the necessary support to do so.
National governments don’t need to wait for more reports and “red alerts” to know what action they should be taking. Governments have been given an unprecedented window to update their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) before COP27 to ensure that they are in-line with limiting warming to 1.5°C. Current commitments have us on track for 2.4°C by the end of the century, at which point it is likely that we will have gone past the point where we can adapt to the climate changes scientists predict.”