Climate Pledge: Amazon’s net-zero initiative passes 100 corporate signatories

Many of the new signatories already have standalone net-zero commitments

Amazon co-created the Climate Pledge with Global Optimism in 2019, following mounting pressure from consumers, investors and its own staff to firm up its environmental ambitions and actions in line with its scale.

The Pledge is headlined by a requirement for signatories to reach net-zero emissions across all scopes by 2040 at the latest. To ensure that signatories are not over-reliant on offsetting, there is also a requirement for businesses to prioritise energy efficiency, renewable energy and creating a closed-loop for materials. Signatories are also encouraged to collaborate on key focus areas relating to clean energy, energy efficiency and the circular economy.

As of the end of February, the Pledge had 53 business backers. New commitments from 52 corporates this week, in light of Earth Day, take the number past the 100 mark for the first time.

New signatories include Colgate-Palmolive, Heineken, PepsiCo, Visa, Sainsbury’s, Aecom, Quorn Foods, Mace Group, Morgan Sindall Group and O2 owner Telefonica. Collectively, today’s new joiners represent $1.4trn of global annual sales and more than five million employees worldwide.

Many of the new signatories already had net-zero targets for 2040 or sooner.  Sainsbury’s, for example, announced a 2040 net-zero target last year and has since become a headline sponsor for COP26, while Heineken announced its own ambition to deliver a carbon-neutral value chain by 2040 this week.

In these instances, the Climate Pledge states that its value lies in ensuring that companies take “science-based, high-impact actions”. Moreover, the organisers believe it can act as a vehicle to improve engagement with consumers and collaboration across the private sector.

“While our industry has taken steps to protect the planet by becoming more sustainable, what we have collectively achieved isn’t enough,” Mace Group chief executive Mark Reynolds said. 

“We need to transform the way we build, refurbish, operate, and repurpose the built environment. Bold commitments and far-reaching targets will set the benchmark for our industry, and we look forward to helping lead the way as a part of The Climate Pledge.”

Spotlight on the UK

Amazon was keen to highlight the fact that 20 of the new signatories are UK-based – a higher figure than for any other nation represented in the cohort.

“It is a testament to the UK’s climate leadership to have so many British businesses across a broad spectrum of industries making this commitment today, and we look forward to others joining us to accelerate positive change,” Amazon’s UK country manager John Boumphrey said.

To Boumphrey’s point, the announcement comes on the same week that Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that the UK will adopt the Climate Change Committee’s (CCC) Sixth Carbon Budget recommendations in law.

Published late last year, the recommendations are headlined by the delivery of a 78% reduction in net annual national emissions by 2035, against a 1990 baseline. The UK had been targeting an 80% reduction against 1990 levels by 2050 under its original Climate Change Act, but knew, when net-zero was made law, that an update would be needed.

Reports of Johnson’s decision began appearing in the national media on Tuesday (20 April), prompting the Government to confirm the reports ahead of the Prime Minister’s appearance at an international climate event hosted by US President Joe Biden on Thursday and Friday (22 and 23 April). 22 April is notably Earth Day 2021.

Reaction to the news has been broadly positive across the UK’s green economy – particularly given that Ministers have faced accusations of complacency on decarbonising hard-to-abate sectors like agriculture and transport this week, inciting calls for higher ambitions and better delivery ahead of COP26. You can read edie’s full round-up of all the key reaction here.

Sarah George

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