More businesses setting long-term emission reduction targets

9th December 2014

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Tariq Mahmood

Tesco, GSK and National Grid are among a rising number of companies setting carbon emissions reduction targets to 2050, according to analysis by the CDP.

Its new report has identified 66 businesses, cities and states or regions as frontrunners in setting emissions reduction targets. This group is raising the bar in setting ambitious, long-term emissions reduction targets, it says.

UK companies aiming for a 100% reduction in emissions by 2050 include the retailer Tesco, which is using a baseline year of 2010, when it emitted 5,209 metric kilotonnes of CO2e. Pharmaceutical company GSK is also benchmarking its emissions reductions against 2010, when it emitted 15,000 metric kilotonnes of CO2e. Both companies include emissions from their supply chain in targets.

British Airways is aiming to halve its emissions by 2050, down from 16,500 metric kilotonnes of CO2e in 2005. However, it will partly rely on carbon offsets to achieve this, the CDP states.

The CDP report also highlights targets set by cities, including Berlin, which has pledged to reduce its annual CO2 emissions from around 21 million tonnes to 4.4 million tonnes in 2050, despite forecast economic and population growth. Copenhagen, Toronto and Chicago are among other cities setting emissions reduction targets for the middle of the century, the report states.

Cities that have set targets report three times as many emissions reduction activities than those who have not, the CDP finds.

There is also momentum among state and regional governments, says the report. For example, California has implemented a cap-and-trade scheme, helping create a model for other states to follow.

However, the CDP’s data also reveals that, although 224 companies in heavy-emitting industries have emissions reduction targets, total emissions from this group were reduced by only 1% between 2012 and 2013.

The CDP believes that companies need to scale up their ambition ahead of next year’s Paris climate talks. It is developing a science-based target-setting methodology it says will enable businesses to revolutionise the pace of change and set climate goals up to 2050 that are aligned with limiting global temperatures to below 2°C.

CDP’s executive director, Nigel Topping, said: “There’s a clear picture emerging of a distinct vanguard of businesses and sub-national governments who not only understand the threat of climate change, but recognise that this is an opportunity to build long-term resilience in order to ensure their continued success.

“By taking a long-term approach to their organisational strategies, these leaders are demonstrating to others that ambitious climate action is not only possible, it is fast-becoming central to what all well-managed businesses must do to thrive in a potentially resource-constrained future,” he said.

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