CEOs, It’s Time To Act: 5 Pathways To Net Zero
ESG. Just transition. Net zero.
Seeing these buzzwords fly around the business world is both good news and bad news. The good news is that climate leadership has finally become a business imperative.
The bad news is that, as report after report has shown, many companies are still setting goals in a vacuum, without concrete plans to turn their pledges into progress at the speed and scale needed to secure a climate-stable future.
But there’s no getting around it: Companies will be held to account for their actions. The days when companies could say one thing publicly and do another privately — or nothing at all — are long gone.
Investors — and potential hires — want leadership, transparency and disclosure. They want action and evidence of tangible progress. And they want it now.
Companies need guidance to get this right
So what does climate leadership look like? How can companies accelerate climate action? How should they prioritize, plan and implement their plans for the greatest impact?
Here are five core actions for climate leaders, regardless of industry or sector:
- 1. Cut carbon using bold, time-bound, science-based actions, but go beyond carbon as well. Reduce emissions across your entire value chain, with the short-term goal of a 50% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2030. But also address all greenhouse gases (including short-lived but powerful climate pollutants such as methane), toxic chemicals, environmental justice and other key components of a robust and meaningful climate strategy.
- 2.Invest to speed up and scale solutions. One of the most important things businesses can do is deploy capital where it’s needed most, increase market demand for innovation and scale climate solutions across industries and supply chains. One example: Accelerated investment by the private sector is desperately needed to stop deforestation and protect carbon sinks, such as tropical forests. High-integrity carbon credits are one of the best ways to make those investments.
- 3. Use your political influence. In the U.S., we have only a narrow political window of opportunity to make the investments and set the standards needed to achieve net zero at the enterprise and national levels and cut emissions in half by 2030. Business leadership is essential to effect real public policy and regulatory change rapidly.
- 4. Engage your entire community and beyond. From your customers to your employees to your peers and investors, all eyes are on climate action. It’s time for companies to tap the abundant resources and partners that are ready, eager and well-positioned to assist companies in making progress on their climate goals. The Business Alliance to Scale Climate Solutions (BASCS) and Transform to Net Zero (TONZ) are two examples of cross-sector initiatives seeking to speed corporate climate action and investment through information sharing, pre-competitive collaboration and more.
- 5.Be transparent. Bold climate leadership requires acknowledging where you stand now, assessing next steps and showing how you’ll evaluate your progress. Clear, comprehensive, high-quality information on climate risk and performance is crucial for companies and their stakeholders. This will reward companies that embrace the climate transition and shine a spotlight on those with the most work still to do.