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Net Zero Must Mean Business

For too long, there was no consensus on what a serious corporate net-zero strategy would actually look like in practice. But, thanks to a recently launched set of common standards, businesses will no longer have any excuse for falling short of their publicly stated commitments.

COPENHAGEN – The world is awash in net-zero emissions targets. A growing number of countries, regions, cities, and companies have announced that they will adjust their growth strategies to align with the Paris climate agreement’s goal of keeping global temperatures within 1.5° Celsius of pre-industrial levels. By the end of 2021, roughly 90% of global GDP was covered by some type of net-zero pledge, including those made by more than 680 of the world’s largest corporations.

Yet despite this boom in new commitments, real action from businesses is lagging, because we have long lacked a common, science-based understanding of what a corporate net-zero strategy entails. Far too many corporate net-zero pledges fail to account properly for all the relevant greenhouse gases (GHGs). Many also lack a clear mid-century target date, do not encompass their products’ full value chain, and do not reflect the urgency of cutting emissions significantly by 2030. Worse, many rely far too heavily on offsetting their emissions by purchasing credits generated from carbon-abatement and -removal projects elsewhere.

No wonder UN Secretary-General António Guterres thinks there is “a deficit of credibility and a surplus of confusion over emissions reductions and net-zero targets.” Fortunately, with the recent launch of the Science Based Targets initiative’s (SBTi) Corporate Net-Zero Standard, we now have a framework to show companies how to align their climate plans with the science.

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