Last week, we celebrated the 51st Earth Day with our offices still shuttered due to a global pandemic. Yet, I see signs of hope that we are turning a corner. Vaccination rates continue to climb in the U.S., spring’s telltale signs are emerging, including baseball with masked fans actually in the seats, and the ongoing commitment from businesses to climate action just received a strong bolster of support from the U.S. government.
At a global virtual Earth Day summit on April 22, U.S. President Joe Biden announced that the United States would cut its global warming emissions at least in half by the end of the decade. The scope of this ambition is impressive as is the clear signal that global collaboration among governments and businesses is required to achieve this goal. Case in point: it was incredibly encouraging to see Japan, Canada, Britain, and the European Union committing to steeper emission reductions.
Pathways to net zero
The transition to net zero emissions continues to be a vital concern for organizations and governments. Net zero emissions are achieved when anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere are balanced by anthropogenic removals over a specified period, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The 2018 IPCC special report highlighted the need to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, at the latest, to limit global warming to 1.5°C.
Since then, an increasing number of organizations around the world have been making net zero climate commitments and enlisting support in getting there. To date, more than 1,000 businesses are working with the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) to reduce their emissions. Meanwhile, 509 cities, 23 regions, 2,162 businesses, 127 of the biggest investors, and 571 Higher Education Institutions have signed on to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 at the latest as part of the UNFCCC’s Race to Zero campaign. And over 800 B Corps — including 3Degrees — have pledged to reach net zero by 2030 (20 years ahead of the target set in the Paris Agreement).
All of this activity around corporate climate commitments is an encouraging sign and is incredibly necessary. It is also not enough. We have to do more.
A moment for extraordinary possibilities
As the 3Degrees team assesses the announcement from the Biden Administration, we appreciate that achieving this goal will be a tremendous economic and political challenge. The scope of changes to the power and transportation sectors are monumental. It’s a refreshing and humbling reminder for all of us: addressing climate change requires ambition as well as the resolve and determination to make it happen.
“This is a moral imperative, an economic imperative,” noted President Biden. “A moment of peril, but also a moment of extraordinary possibilities.”
At 3Degrees, our daily work with clients who are stepping up and taking bold action to address climate change inspires us. How will you and your organization rise to the occasion for extraordinary possibilities?