More than 70 global companies signed the Trillion Tonne Communiqué, coordinated by The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group, to limit cumulative carbon emissions to 1 trillion metric tons. That’s the emissions threshold needed to avoid more than 2 degrees Celsius of warming, according to the new IPCC report. We are already halfway to that limit as cumulative carbon emissions are around 579 billion tons. The 1 trillion limit is expected to be reached in 2040. Companies that signed the Communiqué include major multinationals such as Acciona, Adidas, CalSTRS, EDF Energy, ING, Mars, Shell, TetraPak and Unilever. The signatories have a collective turnover of about $900 billion.
The Communiqué, the seventh in a series coordinated by the Corporate Leaders Group, calls for a “’rapid and focused response’ to the threat posed by rising global carbon emissions and the ‘disruptive climate impacts’ inevitably associated with them.” It specifically calls on governments to set a timeline for achieving net zero emissions before the end of the century, design a strategy to transform the energy system, and create a plan to manage reliance on fossil fuels, particularly coal.
“This communiqué sends a clear message from business at a critical time, when events in the Ukraine have refocused global attention on energy security, and just as the scientific consensus reminds us all of the imperative of collective action,” said Eliot Whittington, deputy director of The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group.
It is only natural that businesses take the lead in addressing climate change. A report last year by Climate Accountability Institute links most human induced climate change to 90 companies, the majority of which are oil, natural gas, coal and cement producers. Fortunately, businesses are taking the lead. The Communiqué is not the only call by business for governments to address climate change. More than 750 companies have signed the Climate Declaration by Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy (BICEP), which urges the U.S. to take action to address climate change. The Climate Declaration states that what is needed is a “coordinated effort to combat climate change” with the U.S. taking the lead. Last month, over a dozen major California-based businesses signed the Climate Declaration, including Apple, SolarCity, San Diego International Airport and Sungevity.
The impacts of climate change are already being felt
The new IPCC report details the impacts of climate change, including those already being felt, which include:
- Changing rainfall or melting snow and ice, which affect water resources
- Glaciers shrinking almost worldwide
- Permafrost warming and thawing in high-latitude and high-elevation regions
- Species shifting their geographic ranges, seasonal activities, migration patterns, abundances, and species interactions
- Wheat and maize yields for many regions are being negatively affected
- Weather extremes such as heat waves, droughts, floods, cyclones, and wildfires
The IPCC report makes it clear that we can reduce the risks of climate change impacts “by limiting the rate and magnitude of climate change.” Or as Johan Karlström, CEO of Skanska AB, one of the signatories of the Communiqué, said: “The threat of climate change is real and urgent. To curb emissions we need to work together.” In other words, businesses and government must work together to tackle climate change.
Image credit: Glamhag