Man-made greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have increased significantly since the Industrial Revolution. If this trend continues, global temperatures are expected to rise between 2 and 6 degrees Celsius by 2100. This change in temperature could unhinge the global climate and cost nearly $2 trillion annually in abatement efforts. In order to avoid the catastrophic impacts of climate change, we must slow down the release of GHG emissions and move towards a low-carbon economy.
While world governments have committed to this effort through the United Nations’ COP 21 Paris Climate Agreement, it is only part of the solution. It’s clear that the private sector will need to play a role in overcoming climate change challenges. As a thought leader in this area, JLL works with corporates to assist them in defining and reaching carbon-reduction and other Environmental, Social and Governance targets.
The private sector has experienced increasing pressure to act on climate change. Corporate reporting and disclosures of GHG emissions have made great strides. In addition, companies are setting emissions reduction targets in an effort to mitigate climate change. However, companies often set targets arbitrarily without considering what is realistic and achievable. If we hope to hit global reduction targets, companies need to align their GHG emissions reduction targets with climate science and the global carbon budget.
The Science Based Targets (SBT) initiative – jointly created by the Carbon Disclosure Project, World Wildlife Fund, Global Compact, and World Resource Institute – does just that. SBT helps companies determine and set ambitious emissions reduction goals that are in line with climate science and work within the carbon budget framework.
SBT identified that while there are significant opportunities to invest in a low-carbon economy, most companies do not invest sufficient capital to enable transformative change. By adopting science-based targets, companies can build the case for greater capital commitments toward a low-carbon future and enable new markets to flourish.
Creating critical mass
More than 200 companies have committed to setting science-based targets since the introduction of the SBT initiative. In order to encourage adoption and competition, the SBT steering committee has strategically engaged energy-intensive companies, including Autodesk, Diageo, Xerox, Philips, Novartis, Pfizer, Principal Financial, Brown-Forman Corporation, MetLife, Mars Inc., and Proctor & Gamble.
The popularity of science-based targets is poised to grow as the private sector continues to address its role in slowing climate change. If companies are serious about preparing for a sustainable future, there appears to be little choice but to adopt science-based targets.
About the authors
Jennifer Fairchild is the Eastern Regional Energy Director for JLL’s Energy and Sustainability Services.
Matt Morrison is a Portfolio Energy Analyst in JLL’s Energy and Sustainability Services.