On 25 May in Dallas, shareholders of the US oil giant ExxonMobil staged a significant revolt against the company’s management. Despite strong opposition from the board, 38% voted in favour of a resolution calling for annual stress tests to determine the risks of climate change to the business – the highest support ever for a climate resolution at an Exxon AGM.
For the first time ever, Shell have published an outline for what they think it would take for the world to avoid 2C of global warming.
The oil major has previously avoided doing so, telling shareholders in 2014 that it did not foresee “governments taking the steps now that are consistent with the 2C scenario.”
So why has Shell decided to be more open about a low-carbon transition?
More than 150 companies have committed to use climate science to set targets for reducing corporate greenhouse gas emissions, in line with the international effort to keep global warming below 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) over pre-industrial levels as set out in the Paris Agreement. Our interviews with sustainability leaders at five companies that have science-based targets in place show they share important characteristics that drive their ambition and underpin their success.
The world is approaching a tipping point, with renewable energy taking over from the fossil fuel industry. We now need to come together to give it a last push to help deliver the zero-carbon economy that world leaders agreed to at the recent UN climate talks in Paris (COP21). This is what We Mean Business will be discussing at the Climate Action 2016 Summit in Washington, D.C. this week, with 700 global leaders from businesses, national and sub-national governments, academia and civil society.
“We need a trade association for industries that don’t exist yet.” This is what Thomas Lingard, VP of global policy and advocacy at Unilever, said to me at an event recently. We were discussing Senator Whitehouse’s article on the dearth of pro-climate lobbyists in Washington, which has sparked a global conversation about corporate engagement on climate policy.
This conversation has been a long time coming. Trade associations exist to protect and promote the interest of their corporate members. They play a powerful role in amplifying the voice of business, and this in turn serves an important function in creating policy. With the emerging understanding of the business case for climate action however, we need to ask if the current status quo meets the needs of business.
Companies join RE100 with a commitment to 100% renewable electricity, an ambitious goal that earns due admiration among their peers and attention in the press. Being a public commitment, the RE100 goal is also a promise to a company’s own employees, customers, investors and other stakeholders. For these reasons, what businesses say through a visible platform like RE100 – and how – matters.
The Paris Agreement, which saw a record-breaking number of countries sign last week, sets the target of limiting global warming to within two degrees by the end of the century. In order to achieve this it is essential that emissions reductions are made, and quickly.
Up to a third of effective carbon mitigation is achievable through directly addressing the loss of trees. This makes halting deforestation one of the most cost effective means of tackling climate change.
On April 22, 130 leaders from across the globe will gather in New York City to sign the Paris Agreement – the largest international agreement in world history. In just four months, the world has responded rapidly to the new ‘rules of the game’ established at the UN Paris Climate Change Conference, COP21. I am greatly encouraged that this Agreement includes a strong reference to carbon pricing, recognizing the value of cooperation among jurisdictions on emissions trading schemes and carbon markets.