A new YouGov survey of global corporations in the Science Based Targets initiative finds that more than half of executives (52%) expect at least 50% of their products and services to be low carbon by 2028. Of these, nearly 1 in 5 (19%) predict close to 100% will be low carbon in 10 years’ time. The companies surveyed have reportedly already set, or committed to set, science-based targets to cut their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in line with the rates required to keep global warming below 2°C.
The 185 respondents are from companies in 37 countries, including Dutch telecom company KPN, retailer Lidl Belgium, Japanese building materials manufacturer LIXIL Group, American logistics real estate company Prologis and Dutch technology giant Royal Philips.
When asked to select up to three factors from a list, 65% of respondents chose environmental factors as one of the biggest trends affecting business growth in the next five years, second only to technological change (88%) and ahead of economic policy (59%). In total, 79% of the companies surveyed say brand reputation is one of the biggest benefits of setting science-based targets, while 63% say the commitment helps to drive innovation. Nearly a third (29%) claim that science-based targets deliver bottom line savings to their business.
The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) is a collaboration between CDP, the United Nations Global Compact (UN Global Compact), World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). Over 420 major corporations have already set, or committed to set, a science-based target. They span 38 countries and represent over 880 megatonnes in annual Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to the annual CO2 emissions from 218 coal-fired power plants.
“This study shows that companies putting science at the heart of their environmental ambitions are already feeling the benefits. A science-based target should be part of every company roadmap,” says Dexter Galvin, global director of corporations & supply chains at CDP. “Those without one will struggle to see around the next corner, posing material risk to their business, while losing significant ground to their competitors.”
At the World Economic Forum in January 2018, Anand Mahindra, chairman of the Mahindra Group, called on companies worldwide to commit to the Science Based Targets initiative ahead of the Global Climate Action Summit hosted in California in September 2018.
“By anchoring targets in science, companies are able to move beyond incremental improvements and focus on what’s necessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the scale that is needed,” says Kevin Rabinovitch, global vice president, sustainability at Mars, one of 114 companies to have their targets independently approved by the Science Based Targets initiative. “If every company, community and government set science-based targets the cumulative result would enable us to live within the planet’s boundaries.”