We Mean Business Coalition urging members to target net-zero by 2040 under new Amazon partnership

Businesses identified Scope 3 emissions as a major barrier to net-zero commitments.

The partnership will see We Mean Business Coalition encourage the entirety of its 1,289-strong business membership to adopt Amazon’s Climate Pledge – a set of commitments headlined by a 2040 net-zero target.

Amazon launched the Climate Pledge last year, following continued calls from investors, employees and customers for ambitious, time-bound sustainability targets. Its 2040 net-zero pledge is bolstered by a 2024 goal to source 80% renewable electricity globally, rising to 100% by 2030, and an ambition to ensure that at least half of shipments are carbon-neutral within a decade.

The e-commerce giant’s partnership with We Mean Business Coalition will see hundreds of other companies encouraged to set similar targets, back them up with sufficient investment, and work with suppliers to ensure that Scope 3 (indirect) emissions are also addressed. This is crucial because, according to the CDP, the average corporation’s Scope 3 emissions are five-and-a-half times greater than those created by their direct operations.

Mindful of the fact that most businesses will still be dealing with residual emissions after completing these activities, the partnership has made provisions for carbon offsetting and insetting. It will support the Four Principles for Nature-Based Solutions – a framework designed to help businesses distinguish which carbon mitigation projects are credible and to invest in schemes which regenerate nature. Framework adoptees vow to prioritise fossil-fuel phase-outs and energy efficiency over offsetting and insetting and to work with local stakeholders to deliver projects.

As well as the Climate Pledge and We Mean Business Coalition, the partnership is being supported by IKEA’s charitable arm, IKEA Foundation; Global Optimism, former UN Climate Chief Christiana Figueres’ new venture; TED Countdown; the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTI) and Race to Zero. Launched last month, Race to Zero is the UK Government’s pre-COP26 campaign, aimed at helping businesses, cities and nations set net-zero targets.

Figueres said that the partnership will help scale-up the technologies and systems needed to align the world with the Paris Agreement, creating not only environmental benefits, but benefits to the economies and social groups affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We are not in a position to meander on the path to decarbonization – science tells us time is not on our side,” she said. “If we are going to build back better, companies of all sizes need to safeguard the economy against the disruptive and devastating impacts of the climate crisis, which damages all of us. Large corporations decarbonizing their operations and supporting small and medium businesses to follow them in a whole-economy approach makes sense.”

Snowball effect

For Amazon, the announcement comes shortly after the first additional corporates joined the Climate Pledge: Dettol and Durex owner Reckitt Benckiser, US telecommunications giant Verizon and Indian IT services firm Infosys.

The expansion of the Pledge led Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to pledge a minimum of $2bn for smaller firms creating technologies or services aimed at reducing carbon emissions to net-zero.

As for We Mean Business Coalition, the organisation this week published a blueprint for corporates wishing to lobby the US federal government for Paris-aligned green policy, as part of a collaboration with Ceres.

The blueprint comes as the Trump administration continues the formal process of withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, and amid claims that more than 100 environmental laws have been either rolled back or paused from progressing due to Covid-19.

In May, Ceres assembled a coalition of 330 businesses to deliver a unified call for lawmakers to support a “climate-smart” recovery package. It has since coordinated an open letter urging all world leaders to align their recovery plans with net-zero, which has signed by more than 150 chief executives.

Sarah George

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