Corporate Determined Contributions: Business vows to play its part in delivering Paris Agreement

Image: WBCSD

The call to action is being made through the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s (WBCSD) new Business Manifesto for Climate Recovery, published today (3 November) to coincide with the first day dedicated to non-state actors at COP26 in Glasgow.

Published after the UN’s 2021 emissions gap report confirmed that national climate pledges will put us on track for 2.7C of warming above pre-industrial temperatures – far exceeding the Paris Agreement’s 2C and 1.5C pathways – the new Manifesto unites big businesses across different sectors and countries in stating a willingness to play their part in closing this ambition and action gap.

A key ask is for the development of Corporate Determined Contributions (CDCs) to the Paris Agreement. Like NDCs, they would be used to help businesses develop and synthesise short-term and medium-term plans for decarbonisation, building on the growing momentum of the science-based targets movement and disclosure through platforms such as CDP.

A CDC mechanism would collate data already collected from corporates on value chain emissions, and identify remaining data gaps. It should, WBCSD is arguing, be open-source and be overseen by an existing UN structure, to “avoid needless duplication”.

“Corporate greenhouse gas emissions data is not included in NDCs and there is no formal aggregation mechanism for corporate emissions at a global level to mirror the NDC process,” the Manifesto states. “This is despite the private sector being responsible for the majority of emissions and, in many cases, having put in place targets and action plans that are more ambitious than many national governments.”

Around 200 companies are WBCSD members. The organisation has members from sectors including chemicals, car manufacturing, food and drink, energy, construction, industrials and pharmaceuticals.

Energy priorities

Accounting for business action on decarbonisation is just one of 12 key priority actions set out in the Manifesto. It sits alongside a continued ask for businesses to take “true value creation” into account, joining up climate and financial data and moving away from a purely financial approach to the bottom line.

Some of the actions – particularly those on energy – have already gotten mentions and even major announcements here in Glasgow. For example, there are calls to mainstream methane emissions reductions and to power up green global grids. Yesterday saw the Global Methane Pledge, to cut emissions by 30% by 2030, surpassing 100 national signatories. On coal, while the G20 meeting saw no new pledges on domestic investment, an end to international investment was promised by the end of the year. Then, Michael Bloomberg announced he is expanding Bloomberg Philanthropies’ coal-free mission, with new targets to stop all new capacity globally and to bring one-quarter of existing projects offline by 2025.

Most of the other priority actions in the Manifesto will be touched upon in the coming days at COP26, which each have themes for non-state actors. At this point, the main involvement of states is negotiating the final agreements and updating attendees on progress.

Other WBCSD priority focus areas include coordinating net-zero transport system transformations; cutting emissions in the built environment; investing in natural climate solutions and restoring degraded land, and scaling carbon capture and removal technologies and markets.

To this latter point, negotiations this week will strive to finalise the rulebook for Paris Agreement Article 6, which relates to the creation and management of global carbon market systems, that countries may properly trade emissions and corporates offset their emissions without greenwashing.

All 12 actions, WBCSD has acknowledged, will need to be undertaken in a collaborative manner, with business partnerships; dialogue with policymakers for nations; cities, states and regions; citizens’ groups and others.

WBCSD president and chief executive Peter Bakker said the Manifesto “provides an added focus on the actions needed now with the biggest impacts to halt temperature rises and support climate recovery”.

“Businesses are ready to deliver pragmatic and impactful solutions and be held accountable for their progress,” he added.

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Sarah George  


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