Can Businesses Save the World?
Read the entire article at Ensia.
“We are still in.” With these four words a group of U.S. businesses and investors with a combined annual revenue of US$1.4 trillion sent a powerful message to the world: U.S. president Donald Trump may have withdrawn from the Paris agreement on climate change, but corporate America is not following suit.
“We Are Still In” launched with more than 20 Fortune 500 companies on board, including Google, Apple, Nike and Microsoft, as well as a host of smaller companies. The statement was coordinated by a large collective of organizations including World Wildlife Fund, Rocky Mountain Institute, Climate Mayors, Ceres and Bloomberg Philanthropies. It has now grown to include more than 1,500 businesses and investors, as well as nine U.S. states, more than 200 cities and counties, and more than 300 colleges and universities.
And it’s not alone. In recent years, a number of initiatives and collaborations have sprung up around the world focused on private sector action on climate change. With Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris agreement, these initiatives have raised an intriguing question: In the absence of political action, can business save the world from devastating climate change?
“The simple answer is there’s no saving the world without business, but business can’t do it on its own,” says Nigel Topping, CEO of We Mean Business. “The reason we need these kinds of coalitions is so that both business leaders and political leaders hear loud and clear that actually the majority of businesses understand that we’ve got to change, and actually are on board and already in motion.”
We Mean Business is a global coalition of many of the same NGOs that initiated We Are Still In — CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project), The B Team, The Climate Group, and others — and the two initiatives are closely connected. We Mean Business’s role is to provide a framework for corporate commitments on climate change and a platform from which to make those commitments public.
One such commitment is to adopt science-based greenhouse gas emissions targets. This is where Science Based Targets comes in. This global collaboration among CDP, World Resources Institute, the World Wide Fund and the United Nations Global Compact encourages and helps corporations to align their climate change policies with scientific evidence.
“What we could observe is a majority of companies were setting targets, but at least from a CDP perspective, we had many challenges to understand what targets were best,” says Pedro Faria, technical director of CDP and member of the Science Based Targets steering committee. “Talking with companies and other NGOs, we realized there was no method, so companies were setting targets based on what was feasible and not what was needed.”