Business leaders call for EU net-zero target

The chief executives from more than 50 businesses, including Ikea, Unilever, Heathrow Airport and Interface have called on the European Union (EU) to create a long-term decarbonisation roadmap for a net-zero economy by 2050.

Business leaders call for EU net-zero target

The letter acknowledges the urgency of the climate crisis

In a letter sent to the EU, business members of The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group (CLG), We Mean Business network, The Haga Initiative, the Finnish Climate Leadership Coalition and others have called on policymakers to set a net-zero target to provide market signals and confidence to enable business to invest in sustainable solutions and deliver a climate neutral transition.

The signatories consist of the chief executives of major European businesses across the automotive, energy, retail, steel, farming and food and drink sectors amongst others. The businesses collectively employ more than 1.5 million people across Europe while investment networks supporting the letter bring together more than 16,000 businesses.

The letter acknowledges the urgency of the climate crisis, and calls on the Eu to decarbonise its economy by 2050 at the latest, while enabling business to deliver a positive economic forecast.

The letter states: “Putting climate change at the top of Europe’s agenda will provide business with the clarity and confidence to invest in the sustainable, net zero emissions industries of the future, driving innovation and protecting European competitiveness on a global scale … Collectively, we have an urgent task: to decarbonise the global economy in little more than a generation.

“Every year more of us are setting science-based targets for our companies’ emissions, we are purchasing clean energy and signing up to renewable energy commitments, using low emission and electric vehicles, converting land to carbon sinks and improving energy efficiency throughout our operations.”

Net-zero horizon

The letter was delivered ahead of the publication of a new advice report from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) outlining how the UK could enshrine a net-zero target into national law.

At an EU level, a group of business and civil society leaders, including Paul Polman, Christiana Figueres, Sir Richard Branson and Arianna Huffington, has called for increased climate actions and “ensure targets are aligned with a just transition to net-zero emissions” by 2050. The mayors of ten major European cities, including Paris, London, Milan and Barcelona, have also called for the same target.

Even ministers from ten EU countries have urged the European Commission to chart a “credible and detailed” path towards net-zero emissions in 2050.

Unilever’s chief executive Alan Jope added: “Businesses have a responsibility to take action that will help address climate change, and many of us are already doing so. But we need to accelerate progress. A European strategy to deliver Net Zero Emissions by 2050 is essential to signal the direction and speed of travel that is necessary to achieve the 1.5-degree ambition set out in the Paris Agreement.”

Matt Mace 

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