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6 leading companies raising climate ambition

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In the wake of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius, the impetus for companies to step up their climate action and ambition never has been greater.   

Now climate science has clarified the need to decarbonize at pace, meet six companies that are going further and faster on climate.

1. BT Group heads for net-zero carbon

United Kingdom telecoms giant BT Group has set itself on a path to net-zero carbon emissions by 2045, increasing its climate ambitions, already having achieved its original science-based target in 2016.

"On the same day (Oct. 15) as the U.K. government asked the Independent Committee on Climate Change to examine whether a net-zero carbon target can be set for the U.K., we've pledged to become a net-zero carbon emission business by 2045," the company said. 

In 2016, BT achieved its previous science-based target to reduce carbon emissions intensity by 80 percent on 1996/97 levels four years ahead of schedule. In 2017/18, the company cut its energy bill by $37 million, and cumulatively has saved $328 million since 2009/10, through driving efficiencies in its networks, data centers and buildings in the process.

Having achieved that, BT then committed to decarbonize by a further 87 percent, against a 2016/17 baseline, to bring the company inline with a 1.5 C trajectory.

2. Dalmia Cement commits to carbon negativity

Leading Indian cement maker Dalmia Cement is already producing the lowest carbon intensity cement in the world — at 20 percent less than the global cement average, but is raising its ambitions to the next level.   

Having committed to switching to 100 percent renewable electricity with RE100, led by The Climate Group in partnership with CDP, and to doubling energy productivity with EP100, Dalmia has committed to setting a science-based target and laid out its long-term vision to go carbon negative by 2040.   

"We have committed that we will be working with science-based targets. Now the important point is — that’s not the end, that’s the start. The end comes with a dream and now our organization, Dalmia Cement, has dreamed that we should be carbon negative," company CEO Mahendra Singhi said.

"Now what we have understood is that it is possible to be carbon negative by 2040. But of course a lot of effort will be required, a lot of collaboration will be required, a lot of failures will be accepted and then we would be able to reach this carbon negative by 2040. This is the ambition of our group.

"This is how we will continue our leadership, this is how we will be taking many players together and this is how we will be able to give a lot of new technologies to the world."

Dalmia has been able to reduce its carbon intensity by around 20 percent in five years, while increasing profits, according to Singhi.

3. IKEA is delivering climate action

IKEA Group was one of the first companies to join The Climate Group’s EV100 corporate leadership initiative to accelerate the roll-out of electric transport last year, and is harnessing the power of electric vehicles (EVs) to step up its action on tackling emissions.

IKEA has committed to transition all its "last mile" home deliveries across five major cities — Amsterdam, Los Angeles, New York, Paris and Shanghai — to electric vehicles or zero-emission transport by 2020. And by 2025, the world’s largest furniture retailer, plans to have all its "last mile" home delivery journeys be zero emissions.   

"We are in a time right now where we see the impacts of climate change. It’s no longer a threat but it’s a reality that impacts our business, our customers and co-workers every day. So we’re working hard to step up our actions," Jesper Brodin, CEO of IKEA Group, said at the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco.

In IKEA’s recent consumer-focused research report, "Climate action starts at home" (PDF), nearly 90 percent of people asked said they are willing to change their behavior to help fight climate change. This highlights the need for the company to innovate and produce products that help their customers tackle climate change, to help drive the company’s growth.  

"We have committed to science-based targets that will guide us. So we know the actions we taking today and tomorrow will guide us towards a zero impact IKEA," Brodin added.

4. NRG is powering the transition

U.S. energy utility NRG is pushing ahead with its bold plans to help its customers decarbonize their power needs by delivering more renewable capacity and cutting emissions.   

"We’re well ahead of target on our science-based goals, reducing 50 percent absolute emissions by 2030 against a 2014 baseline, just in the first three years of that goal period. We’re now already 70 percent of the way to our 2030 goal, and on track to meet that well ahead of plans," said Bruno Sarda, VP of Sustainability at NRG Energy. 

Because of that ambitious goal, NRG has managed to already reduce absolute emissions by nearly 20 million tons.

"We are committed to being part of what the future of the electric power sector is, especially in the United States. Our customers from residential to commercial and industrial are themselves looking to decarbonize, they’re looking for solutions that are sustainable, that are resilient, that are economically viable, and so really that’s what we’re committed to."

Taking climate action has helped NRG in bringing innovative solutions to market, meeting customer needs now and anticipating their needs in the future, while making the company stronger and more successful. It also helps attract and retain the best talent in the industry and has delivered stellar shareholder returns in the process, Sarda said.

 5. Levi’s steps up its climate targets 

Levi Strauss & Company recognizes the importance of stepping its climate ambitions, both in terms of helping to achieve the aims of the Paris Agreement, but also to protect its supply chain from the impacts of climate change.

The clothing giant beat its original climate target of a 25 percent reduction in emissions by 2020 by three years. Now Levi Strauss & Co. has committed to a science-based target of 90 percent reduction of Scope 1 and 2 emissions in owned and operated facilities globally, and a 40 percent reduction in Scope 3 emissions in supply chain all by 2025.

Levi Strauss & Co. want to play a part in reducing the material risk that climate change has on their supply chain — as failing to do so could create uncertain costs and supply disruptions in the future.

"Climate change is a critical issue for us to address as a company. It impacts our core raw material, which is cotton — cotton agriculture is absolutely affected by climate change," Michael Kobori, vice president of social and environmental sustainability at Levi Strauss & Co., said.

"Also, many of our suppliers are located in coastal areas in developing countries all around the world that are going to be impacted by climate change and sea-level rise." 

6. Signify commits to progress on climate

As the world leader in connected LED lighting systems, Signify — formally Philips Lighting — is taking an innovative approach to its action on climate.

The company has committed to set a science-based target, as well as committed to transitioning to 100 percent renewable electricity with RE100, led by The Climate Group in partnership with CDP, and to accelerating the transition to electric vehicles and charging infrastructure with EV100, also led by The Climate Group. In addition, Signify has committed to net-zero carbon buildings for its more than 300-owned and operated sites. 

"Buildings and transport are the two big areas where more action is needed if we want to stay within the boundaries of the Paris Agreement," Verhaar said. "We believe climate action or sustainable development is nothing else than an innovation agenda… those innovative solutions like LED lighting, they provide a better quality of service."

By raising their climate ambitions, businesses such as these are making it clear that they see the low-carbon economy as a driver of innovation, competitiveness, risk management and growth. 

They are also showing that business is a key implementation partner for governments in achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement and setting the world on track to limiting global warming to 1.5 C.