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Business Transition to a Net Zero and Resilient World

We are very excited to be supporting the UN Global Compact Network UK’s ‘Transitioning to a Net Zero’ webinar series. The opening webinar, ‘Business Transition to a Net Zero and Resilient World’ took place on Thursday, 1 July 2021 during London Climate Action Week. The webinar saw government representatives, experts and business leaders discuss their vision of a net zero, climate resilient world, and the actions they are taking to get there.

The key takeaway points are set out below along with the webinar recording:

  • Businesses need to identify and understand the risks that climate change poses in order to mitigate and adapt to them and ensure that climate goals can be achieved.
  • The COP26 High Level Climate Champions launched the ‘Race to Zero’ and ‘Race to Resilience’ campaigns to mobilise businesses, investors, and civil society to take immediate action to achieve net zero emissions and strengthen the resilience of 4 billion people in vulnerable communities.
    • Gonzalo Muñoz (High Level Climate Action Champion) called on all businesses in all sectors to join the campaigns and Minister Trevelyan noted the importance of business and government collaboration.
  • To ensure the credibility of net zero targets, the Race to Zero sets out criteria that all actors joining the campaign must meet:
    • Pledge - reach net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as soon as possible, and by mid-century at the latest, in line with 1.5°C, and set an interim target in the next decade.
    • Plan - explain what actions will be taken to achieve interim and long-term targets.
    • Proceed - with the actions to meet these targets.
    • Publish - report progress against targets on a public platform annually.
    • In addition, all GHG emissions must be covered (scopes 1, 2 and 3) and the use of offsets must be limited.
  • In line with the goals of the Paris Agreement, the UK Government has committed to halve carbon emissions by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050 or sooner. Additionally, the UK Climate Resilience Programme aims to identify, characterise, and quantify climate-related risks to the UK to further mitigation and adaptation efforts.
  • In November 2020, the UK Prime Minister published a Ten Point Plan to encourage ambitious climate action and conserve nature, which the UK Government is using to drive policy.
    • There are plans to launch a comprehensive net zero strategy this year.
    • Businesses are encouraged to provide input to government policy consultations.
  • Mike Thompson (Chief Economist / Director of Analysis, Committee on Climate Change) introduced the Climate Change Committee’s recent report which measures UK progress towards net zero and adapting to climate change.
    • Though there has been historic progress, it is nowhere near enough. The UK Government needs to move faster and design thorough, detailed policy to deliver on the targets.
    • Incentives are needed to mobilise businesses (particularly small ones) into action.
  • Emma Watson (SBTI’s Senior Manager for Net Zero, CDP) explained how companies can commit to ambitious climate targets through the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) and the Business Ambition for 1.5°C campaign.
  • The SBTi is developing the first science-based global standard for corporate net zero targets which will be released later this year. Their ‘Foundations for net-zero target-setting in the corporate sector’ released last year provides guidance on credible net zero targets.
  • The SME Climate Hub is the one-stop shop for small business guidance on net zero and provides tools and resources that can help companies set targets and achieve their goals.
  • Thomas Lingard (Global Sustainability Director, Unilever) highlighted the importance of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in providing a more holistic, systemic lens for thinking about resilience. For example, the elimination of poverty (SDG 1) is likely the best way to build global climate resilience.

Additional resources

Disclaimer

This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given.

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