Posted on 29 October 2019
Businesses have an important role to play in creating a future with net zero emissions.
With the world focused on the climate crisis and our threatened forests, what can companies do to help? What do the latest climate science reports
mean for business? And what does the future of corporate leadership look like?
These were some of the questions raised at a recent two-day summit we hosted in Washington, D.C., which brought WWF experts and businesses together to share knowledge and support as they take further steps to cut emissions and protect forests. We met with companies representing almost every sector imaginable - from IT and ecommerce to finance, food, fashion, paper, packaging, transport and retail.
It was clear that, whatever the differences they have in size, strategy or industry, the attendees shared an interest in the path to net zero emissions. With climate scientists at the IPCC explaining
we need urgent action to reach net zero emissions by 2050 to limit global warming to 1.5°C, their focus is well-placed.
The summit was an open space for dialogue, with multiple breakaway sessions for companies to raise the challenges they faced (and the solutions they found) that could help others in the room. They heard from industry leaders and WWF Climate Savers partners, who shared more about their journey to sustainable business and acted as real life case studies for other companies to learn from.
While we host annual corporate events on climate change and forests to engage companies in these areas of our work, this was the first time we have combined them. It was an important shift, as it gave companies new opportunities to explore how they can integrate their sustainability efforts to really scale up their impact. Given the crucial role forests play in tackling climate change (they’re still the best carbon capture technology available), it was also a natural fit.
Companies were particularly engaged with discussions about aligning their goals to cut emissions with science, which we work on through the Science Based Targets initiative
in partnership with CDP, UN Global Compact and the World Resources Institute. This was encouraging to see, as we want as many companies as possible to commit to - and act on - targets that will steer us to a 1.5°C future, and away from the many devastating consequences of even just 0.5°C of extra warming. So far, 87 companies
have pledged to align their business with the 1.5°C goal.
Upping the action
It’s clear that the climate challenges facing people and nature are immense. The science is already certain, and it seems as though there is always a new report or dramatic headline about the far-reaching impacts of climate change that are already being felt on our planet.
In the face of this emergency, we need everyone to work together. We hope that events such as this summit will motivate the companies who attended and inspire them to heed the call for more ambitious climate action. Many are already deeply committed to lowering their emissions and preserving forests - but by working together, they can make an even bigger difference.
Mark Griffiths is Global Leader of WWF’s Climate Business Hub. He is based in Berlin, Germany.