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'Mission 2025': Corporations, mayors call for more ambitious national climate plans

The next round of climate plans due under the Paris Agreement can galvanize the green economy, business leaders and mayors argue.

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Business leaders, investors and mayors have teamed up on an initiative designed to encourage governments to produce ambitious climate plans ahead of a crucial U.N. deadline early next year.

The Mission 2025 initiative is urging governments to align the next raft of national climate action plans with the Paris Agreement's more stretching goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Governments are required to submit new climate plans — known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in the U.N. jargon for the period from 2025 to 2035 by February, ahead of the COP30 Climate Summit in Brazil in the autumn.

A statement from the new group, supported by Ikea, Iberdrola, Unilever, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the We Mean Business Coalition, said more ambitious plans could "unlock trillions in private investment to protect our nature, scale cheap renewable energy, support industries to complete in a low carbon economy, and safeguard living standards equitably for our people."

"We urge you to seize this decade-defining opportunity to secure the long-term success of our national economies, our people and our nature," it said. "Help us unlock the momentum needed for this transition to happen at the speed and scale required, and with the equity deserved."

UNFCCC Executive Secretary Simon Stiell has described the next round of NDCs as the "most important climate documents produced so far this century," arguing they will determine whether the global economy can get on to a decarbonization trajectory that would prevent the worst climate impacts. In addition to urging governments to produce high ambition national climate action plans, he has urged governments to update their 2030 emissions targets so as to rapidly accelerate decarbonization efforts this decade.

But the U.N. Bonn Climate Summit earlier this month saw countries give little indication of their commitment to delivering high-ambition climate action plans that incorporate their COP28 promise to "transition away from fossil fuels."

The host countries for the COP28, COP29 and COP30 talks — the UAE, Azerbaijan and Brazil —recently promised to submit new NDCs "as soon as possible, to set an example," revealing around 10 countries are planning to publish NDCs around the time of COP29 Climate Summit in Baku this November. 

But few other countries have provided details on when their NDCs will be released, nor what they will contain. Meanwhile, fears are growing that the result of the U.S. election in November could drastically reduce the diplomatic pressure on governments to produce more ambitious plans.  

The Mission 2025 initiative said governments should be emboldened by the private sector's growing embrace of a 1.5-degree-Celsius-aligned economy, pointing to data from the ECIU think tank that suggests companies that account for more than two-thirds of annual revenues from the world's largest corporates now have climate targets aligned with the goals set out in the Paris Agreement.

"Progress towards a 1.5-aligned economy is underway — the technology is in place, investment is scaling, business appetite is rife, and public support is building," the statement reads.

Stiell welcomed the new initiative as evidence of growing demand for ambitious climate plans that could help drive clean development within economies. "The chorus of business leaders, investors and mayors calling for more ambition in economy-wide national climate plans is growing louder and clearer, as global decarbonization gathers pace," he said. "It shows real economy actors are eagerly awaiting the bolder policy signals that will enable them to move faster, invest much more, and help ensure NDCs 3.0 fulfill their full potential as blueprints for stronger economies and fairer societies, particularly when supported by adequate finance."

Convened by Groundswell, a collaboration between nonprofits Global Optimism, Systems Change Lab, and the Bezos Earth Fund, the statement has also been signed by Octopus EV, The B Team, C2ES, C40 Cities, the Climate Crisis Advisory Group, the Club of Rome, E3G, ECF and the We Are Family Foundation.

Helen Clarkson, CEO of the Climate Group, said the next round of NDCs needed to be seen by governments as the "next Paris moment," referring to the historic climate accord agreed by countries in 2015.

"We work with businesses and subnational governments, and they want to see relentless ambition," Clarkson said. "Corporates are ready to invest in renewables for their power supply and to switch their fleet to electric, but they face policy and other barriers that governments need to address. Subnational governments across the globe are seeing their communities suffer from heatwaves, water shortages, droughts. All of them are eager to be part of the solution and the direction set out in the upcoming NDCs — if the plans are ambitious, and clear."

Christiana Figueres, co-founder of Global Optimism, said the launch of the group was a "clear rebuttal" to those arguing that accelerating efforts to tackle the climate crisis was "too difficult, too unpopular or too expensive."

"The ambition expressed by the Mayors, investors and businesses in this coalition should give governments the confidence to bring their 2025 climate plans in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement," she said.

[Learn how companies are navigating the fast changing sustainability agenda and driving more impact with Trellis Network.]

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