Shell and Gazprom among companies backing 2C limit

More than a third of the world's largest listed companies, including major fossil fuel producers, say they would support an international deal limiting global warming to 2 degrees, according to research by CDP.

The group – formerly Carbon Disclosure Project – sent a disclosure request to over 2,000 companies, including 28 of the world’s largest energy producers who account for a combined 26% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Eleven of these energy majors agreed that initiatives should be put in place to limit global warming ahead of the climate talks in Paris later this year. BG Group, BHP Billiton, Gazprom, Shell, ConocoPhilips, EniSpa, Repsol, Statoil, Total and Sasol all answered yes.

Eight reported that they have no opinion on the matter and the remaining seven did not answer the question, which suggests either a lack of clarity around the official board position on the issue or that some companies are not treating the imminent COP21 with the necessary strategic priority.

Crucially, none of the 28 responded “no”, despite the fact that a global agreement would require large amounts of fossil fuel reserves to be left untouched and unsold.

The burning question

Companies were invited to answer the question from the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP): “Would your organization’s board of directors support an international agreement between governments on climate change, which seeks to limit global temperature rise to under 2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels in line with IPCC scenarios such as RCP2.6?”

Of the 2322 companies asked, 806 were in favour of an international deal compared to 111 (4%) against it. When you take out the companies who refused to disclose information (330) and those who voiced no opinion on the matter (1,075), then 89% of those who offered an opinion believe an international deal should be organised.  

CDP’s executive chairman Paul Dickinson said: “Huge opportunities to be part of the solution, build resilience and gain competitive advantage are on the table for companies right now. Decarbonisation is essential for the long-term sustainability of the global economy.

“Businesses that commit to reduce their emissions in line with what science demands, adopt renewable energy and innovate at this critical time will reap the gains. Corporations, investors and governments can cooperate to ensure a successful Paris agreement that brings net zero greenhouse gas emissions well before the end of the century ensuring sustainable growth for all.”

Paris on the horizon

The news comes in the same week that the United Nations begins drafting text for the legally binding plan to fight climate change at the upcoming COP21 climate conference in Paris.

This disclosure request furthers strengthens indications that renewable energy is catching up with fossil fuels, not just in prices but also through government and corporate support.

Recently the IEA released a report that suggested that energy emissions could peak by 2020 if governments spend an extra $130bn on renewable energy, improve energy efficiency and ban new coal-fired power plants.

Matt Mace

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