On Earth Day 2020 the British Chamber launched its Road to Net Zero series. While the UN global climate talks (COP26) have been postponed until November 2021, companies across the world are continuing to publicly join the UK and other countries in committing to reach carbon net zero by 2050. Below are relevant Chamber updates, reports and thought leadership pieces on this topic, but first, some context to the topic:
What does net zero mean?
Net zero is a statutory target for at least a 100% reduction of UK greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 (compared to 1990 levels). It replaced the UK’s previous target to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050. The aim is to reduce greenhouse gas emission as much as possible but it is known as a net zero target because some emissions can remain provided they are offset (i.e. by removal from the atmosphere and/or by trading in carbon units). If met, this target would effectively mean the UK would end its contribution to global emissions by 2050.
A net zero company, as defined by the Carbon Trust, will set and pursue an ambitious 1.5°C aligned Science Based Target for its full value chain emissions. Any remaining hard-to-decarbonise emissions can be compensated with certified greenhouse gas removal (GGR).
Why is the UK government trying to achieve net zero?
In May 2019, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), a non-departmental public body that advises the UK government on the climate, recommended that the UK should aim to be net zero on all greenhouse gases by 2050. This would keep the UK in line with the commitments it made as part of the 2016 Paris Agreement to keep global warming under 2 degrees.
By demonstrating a path to net zero, the UK hopes to set an example that others can follow and demonstrate the economic benefits of green growth - so far the UK has grown its economy 75% since 1990 at the same time as cutting its emissions by 43%.
The UK also recognises that support is required internationally to accelerate the energy transition and so it has doubled its International Climate Finance contribution to at least £11.6bn over 2021-2026 and are delivering technical assistance through experts based in the region. This will help countries throughout Asia to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change and to pursue clean, sustainable economic growth.
What is the connection between COP 26 and net zero?
COP26 is a key milestone for accelerating climate action – we know that the current commitments captured under the Paris Agreement, whilst a good start, are not ambitious enough to avoid catastrophic climate change. The success of COP26 depends on countries, the private sector and civil society demonstrating that they are taking significant steps to raise ambition on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, building resilience to adapt to the effects of climate change we are already seeing now and financing both. To limit global heating to 1.5 degrees Celsius all sectors of society need to demonstrate, how to achieve emissions reductions of 45% from 2010 levels this decade, and how to reach net-zero emissions by mid-century.
What does this mean for businesses?
Businesses across the world are committing to long term emissions reductions targets. As governments are moving towards stronger climate related/sustainability disclosure, businesses recognise that consumers and investors will have greater transparency on commercial activity. These commitments need to be robust and accelerated, not only to reach the ambitions of COP26 and to reduce the impacts of climate change but also to ensure that companies remain relevant, maintain market share and meet the growing expectations of key stakeholders. The Road to Net Zero campaign aims to help businesses in Singapore to understand more about the role they can play and to support them in their journey to becoming net zero.
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