World’s top firms failing on emissions cuts

Just 30% of the world's top 250 listed companies have set strong goals to curb global warming. [Shutterstock]

Researchers have warned that only 30% of the world’s top 250 listed companies have set strong goals to curb global warming, despite the group accounting for a third of all carbon emissions. EURACTIV’s partner edie.net reports.

A Thomson Reuters paper released on Tuesday (31 October) claims that, in the past three years, emissions from these firms have flatlined when they should have been slashed around 3% a year to limit global warming to 2C in line with Paris Agreement targets.

“Without continual reduction in emissions from this group of companies, effectively mitigating the long-term risks of climate change is not possible,” the report warns.

Unsurprisingly, multinational oil and gas companies such as Gazprom and Exxon Mobil top the list for biggest emitters of CO2 at the company and consumer level.

Competitors of these firms which have implemented strong policies to slash their carbon footprint have not suffered in terms of shareholder returns, profits or employment, the report found.

Indeed, researchers claim that the likes of Xcel Energy, Ingersoll Rand and Total may even stand to benefit from climate action. Last year, oil and gas giant Total decided to divest from its coal production and marketing, and the firm has since launched a programme to fit 5,000 of its service stations across the globe with solar PV panels within the next five years.

Emission cuts: We're two-thirds below what's needed, UN says

The UN published its annual emission gap report on Tuesday (31 October), highlighting a dismal record:  ahead of COP23, countries fall two-thirds short of what is needed to reach the agreed reduction in emissions.

Bonn voyage

The report comes less than a week before delegates from almost 200 nations descend on the German city of Bonn to work on a detailed “rule book” for the Paris Agreement. It is expected that discussions will centre around ways to bolster the historic pact after the planned US withdrawal.

In the lead up to the COP 23 climate summit, an array of reports have provided stark warnings that the international community cannot afford to falter in its efforts to limit global warming.

Only yesterday, a UN report cautioned that there is an “unacceptable” gap between national pledges and the emissions reductions required to meet the Paris Agreement’s climate targets. The majority of G20 countries are said to be falling behind on national decarbonisation pledges.

Trump told that Paris Agreement is ‘irreversible and non-negotiable’

The terms of the Paris Agreement are set in stone, the EU, China and Canada agreed at a summit in Montreal this weekend, while Washington was forced to deny that the US is planning to stay in the accord.

Even with full implementation of Paris, a temperature increase of at least 3C by 2100 is very likely, the UN said. This report came in the same week as figures from the World Meteorological Organisation revealed that levels of CO2 in the atmosphere increased at record speed last year.

Businesses have long been warned that the goals of the Paris Agreement won’t be achieved with current decarbonisation ambitions. Emissions targets from large corporates are around one-third of the way to bringing the private sector on a trajectory to keep global warming below 2C, according to CDP, which has highlighted the need for more science-based targets.

But it appears that support within the private sector to accelerate action is not universal. In fact, most of the globe’s 50 most influential companies on climate change legislation are actively lobbying against ambitious decarbonisation policy, research from a UK think tank found earlier this year.