A record number of companies are committing to and setting science-based climate targets, according to a new research by the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi), the global body enabling businesses to set emissions reduction targets in line with science.
The SBTi has launched its third annual assessment of the initiative's impact since its launch in 2015. The 2021 Progress Report 'Scaling Urgent Corporate Climate Action Worldwide' reveals that the SBTi has entered a period of exponential growth with SBTi companies now representing over a third of global market capitalization, worth $38 trillion, up from 20 per cent in 2020.
In 2021, the number of SBTi companies doubled to 2,253, including 1,082 companies with approved targets and 1,171 that committed to set science-based targets. These companies cover 70 countries and 15 industries, with the growth rate averaging at 110 new companies per month in 2021, compared to 31 in 2020. These figures include 117 financial institutions, which have committed to set science-based targets since 2015.
Between January and March 2022, almost 500 companies have set or committed to set science-based targets.
Luiz Fernando do Amaral, CEO of the SBTi, said: "The world today is faced with many challenges, there's the devastating Russian war in Ukraine, the ongoing pandemic and the increasingly urgent climate crisis. At this critical time, we cannot let ourselves be divided.
"In the face of these existential crises, the SBTi will continue to work with governments, companies and NGOs, through strong collaboration, healthy debate and scientific research to reinforce 1.5 degrees Celsius corporate climate action as the new normal.
"The science is clear, we are already experiencing the impacts of climate change, and continuing on the current trajectory equals catastrophe. This report shows that the value the SBTi brings to society is more needed now than ever before, we must continue to drive the exponential growth of science-based targets and make them abusiness as usual' for companies and financial institutions worldwide."
As the first assessment of the SBTi's progress since the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, the report's findings evidence a growing wave of international momentum towards science-based targets.
The necessity of this momentum is reflected in the latest UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) WGIII report, which concluded that peak global emissions along with rapid and urgent reductions is required before 2025 to keep global heating under 1.5 degrees Celsius.
In October 2021, the SBTi launched the Net-Zero Standard, the world's first framework for corporate net-zero target setting in line with climate science. It includes the guidance, criteria, and recommendations companies need to set science-based net-zero targets consistent with limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees.
The Net-Zero Standard has accelerated the shift towards 1.5 degrees aligned targets as the new normal for corporates. The report indicates almost 80 per cent of 587 new targets approved in 2021 were aligned with a 1.5 degrees trajectory.
In April 2022, the initiative celebrated a round of new, net-zero approved targets with the total number of companies committed to the Net-Zero Standard surpassing 1,000.
The SBTi's 'ambition update' also announced that the global initiative will only accept target submissions aligned with 1.5 degrees from July 2022, driving companies to go further and faster with their emissions reductions.
Lila Karbassi, Chair of the SBTi board and Senior Programme Officer at the UN Global Compact, said: "The global economy must halve emissions before 2030 to reach the Paris goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius, and it is currently not on track to do so.
"This goal is reflected in the most recent IPCC report, which poses a clear message, we must implement rapid and urgent emissions reductions or face planetary catastrophe. The climate action we're seeing from companies is grounds for optimism, but we must all go further and faster to close the emissions gap."
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