COP27 must drive an increase in the adoption of robust 2030 targets and net-zero long-term goals for a resilient, nature-positive and globally equitable future.
COP26 succeeded in keeping the prospect of limiting global warming to 1.5°C alive – but only just. Current commitments to reduce emissions would see average temperatures rise by approximately 2.4°C by 2100, a terrifying prospect. So, all actors must now turn ambition into action for a 1.5°C, resilient, nature-positive and globally equitable future.
The role of real economy actors is crucial. 90% of global emissions are now covered by climate targets. More than 3470 companies have set or are committed to setting a science-based target through the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). More than 5,200 business have joined the UN’s Race to Zero, committing to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 at the latest. Urgent and system-wide action is needed to through measurable, accredited and science-based activity by businesses, cities, states and regions and capital market actors.
Every company, city and state must set ambitious science-based targets and be held to account for their progress against them. The gold standard of verification is the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi), which applies stringent benchmarks to validate targets in line with science.
Companies with science-based targets have reduced their combined emissions by 29% since 2015, contrasting with an increase of 3.4% in global emissions from energy and industrial processes over that same period. Cities around the world are starting to set science-based targets: not just net-zero 2050 targets, but critically mid-term, 2030 targets, that ensure cities are playing their part in the global effort to halve emissions by 2030.
After setting a science-based target, every company and financial institution must develop and publish a climate transition plan, with clear timelines and indicators explaining the ‘when’ and ‘how’ they will reach net-zero emissions. Transition plans should account for actions companies will take in the next 5 years and must include robust, quantitative, and accredited science-based targets 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.
Companies must look beyond their own operations and cascade ambition and action down their supply chains. Disclosure is an essential prerequisite for supply chain resiliency against climate change, deforestation, and water insecurity. Despite supply chain emissions being on average 11.4 times greater than a company’s own operational emissions, only 20% of companies reported on emissions associated with products and goods they purchase (Scope 3). Only 38%, 47% and 16% of companies engage with their suppliers on climate change, deforestation and water security, respectively.
Cities, central in our efforts to building a resilient future, have been identified by the IPCC as being among the most vulnerable to climate impacts and risks. CDP data shows that whilst risks are only increasing, nearly half of cities lack plans to keep populations safe. Cities must disclose the risks they face from climate change. Carrying out a climate risk and vulnerability assessment (CRVA) is a key step in climate preparedness where the city identifies people, infrastructure, and resources at risk from the growing physical hazards of a changing climate.
Non-state actors are driving economy-wide change, but corporate ambition alone is insufficient. The Glasgow Climate Pact, agreed at COP26, gave governments an unprecedented window to update their NDCs before COP27, alongside revised National Adaptation Plans of Action, to ensure that they are in-line with limiting warming to 1.5°C. It is disappointing that we are yet to see many countries, particularly those large economies most responsible for climate change, return with more ambitious targets. NDCs must be accompanied by robust roadmaps and policies: comprehensive, science-based and well-aligned national and sectoral policies, including at the subnational stakeholder level. NDCs can, and should, include both adaptation measures and financial support given or received.
Governments should use the momentum of corporate progress to advance ambitious, net-zero aligned policies that tackle the broader environmental impact and provide companies and financial institutions with further clarity and confidence. This in turn strengthens the Ambition Loop: a positive feedback loop where private sector and government action reinforce each other in building a truly resilient and sustainable future. Data and evidence from non-state actors is critical to the enhancement and implementation of governments' NDCs. CDP’s insights and data can help governments to understand what action is being taken across the economy and use it to drive more comprehensive, ambitious NDCs.
The issue of climate change adaptation is set to take centre stage at COP27. Adaptation is critical, but we cannot rely on it as a substitute to immediate emission reductions. Adaptation will become harder, and near impossible, if the planet passes irreversible tipping points and suffers impacts that can’t be adapted to. Without faster emission cuts, adaptation will become increasingly impossible as the planet passes more and more climate tipping points.