Business leaders call on EU to set net-zero emissions strategy

A group of business and civil society leaders, including Paul Polman, Christiana Figueres, Sir Richard Branson and Arianna Huffington, has called on the European Union (EU) to increase climate actions and "ensure targets are aligned with a just transition to net-zero emissions" by 2050.

EU officials have been asked to revise 2030 and 2050 targets for climate action in order to transition to a net-zero economy by 2050 and realise the aims of the Paris Agreement. The B Team – the global collaborative platform of business and civil leaders aiming to drive profits alongside benefits for people and the planet – sent a letter to the EU’s Environment Ministers on Thursday (4 October).

More than 20 business and civil society leaders, including the chief executives of Allianz, Kering, Danone, Interface and Natura, have called for changes to EU climate targets ahead of the release of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Special Report on 1.5°C next week (8 October). The IPCC report is expected to highlight the urgent need in ramping up global climate ambitions to meet the Paris Agreement’s more ambitious target.

“Current projections chart a 3°C rise above pre-industrial temperatures, where we would see a significant drop in food production, an increase in urban heat waves, longer droughts, fiercer hurricanes, more devastating wildfires and communities inundated by rising sea-waters,” the letter states.

“We cannot do business under these conditions. It is clear the cost of inaction is greater than the cost of action. To stay within 1.5 degrees, developed economies like the EU, whose leadership is essential, must achieve a just transition to net-zero emissions by 2050 at the latest. We don’t have much time—2020 is the critical point for curbing carbon emissions if we are to achieve this goal.”

The B Team has called on the EU to increase ambition in medium (2030) and long-term (2050) targets and include a net-zero by 2050 target as part of any strategy. The long-term, net-zero target must also involve all stakeholders – from business, to workers and unions – in order to ensure instability and inequalities don’t emerge.

Net-zero momentum

There are growing calls across all sectors for major nations to enshrine net-zero emissions targets into law. More than 100 MPs have signed a letter calling on Prime Minister Theresa May to establish a net-zero emissions target for 2050. In response, Prime Minister Theresa May has confirmed that the UK will be joining 18 other countries that have committed to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 at the earliest.

Cambridge-based Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group has called for a worldwide government-mandated net-zero carbon emissions target by 2050. Elsewhere, the mayors of ten major European cities -including Paris, London, Milan and Barcelona – have issued a joint call for the EU to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Currently, the EU has a 2030 climate and energy framework which targets a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions against a 1990 baseline.

Matt Mace

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