Global green business coalition to work with tech giant to encourage businesses to adopt more ambitious net zero goals
The We Mean Business group of corporates committed to climate action has formally partnered with tech giant Amazon in a bid to quickly expand the coalition of companies working to delivering net zero emissions.
Last year Amazon launched its own green business grouping, dubbed The Climate Pledge, alongside its pledge to achieve net zero emissions by 2040, a decade earlier than the goals established by the Paris Agreement. The move was broadly welcomed, but also sparked concerns in some quarters that the new group's work could overlap with existing corporate climate coalitions, of which We Mean Business is the largest with 1,200 companies in its network boasting a total market capitalisation of $24.8tr.
However, yesterday the two groups announced a wide-ranging agreement designed to establish "the world's most comprehensive effort to drive companies to adopt more ambitious carbon emissions reduction goals".
The new partnership will encourage all companies to accelerate their existing emissions goals to bring them into line with The Climate Pledge's 2040 target date, work with their supply chains to accelerate climate action, and develop "ambitious and accountable" means for companies to credibly integrate Nature-Based Solutions into their climate strategies.
"The science is clear," said María Mendiluce, CEO of the We Mean Business coalition. "We must hold temperature rise to 1.5C. Thanks to the long-term vision of the IKEA Foundation, and the tireless work of the partners of the We Mean Business coalition, business is already taking bold action on climate. Through The Climate Pledge, we will pick up the pace. With a commitment to collaboration and innovation, those at the head of the pack can reach net-zero emissions by 2040."
Her comments were echoed by Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, who said the "size and scale of the climate crisis demands that the business community joins forces and works together to invent, fund, and implement bold decarbonization programs to help protect the planet".
"No one company can solve this problem on its own," he added. "We look forward to working with the We Mean Business coalition to encourage businesses around the world to accelerate their commitments to tackle climate change."
The new alliance was also welcomed by former UN climate change chief, Christiana Figueres, who worked with Amazon on The Climate Pledge initiative through her Global Optimism think tank.
"Climate change is everybody's business," she said. "I am delighted that deeper and broader collaboration in The Climate Pledge will result from the partnership with the We Mean Business coalition.
"We are not in a position to meander on the path to decarbonisation - science tells us time is not on our side. If we are going to build back better, companies of all sizes need to safeguard the economy against the disruptive and devastating impacts of the climate crisis, which damages all of us. Large corporations decarbonizing their operations and supporting small and medium businesses to follow them in a whole-economy approach makes sense."
The agreement also sets out a number of specific priorities for the new partnership, including providing new frameworks and toolkits to help enhance supply chain engagement efforts and promoting the Four Principles for Nature-Based Solutions, which was published in May 2020 as a framework to help business decision makers distinguish credible carbon mitigation projects and evaluate regenerative investments.
The groups will also support the new TED Countdown initiative to stimulate debate on how to turn ideas on how to tackle escalating climate risks into action, the popular Science Based Targets initiative, and the Race to Zero programme, which has seen the organisers of the COP26 Summit call on companies to deliver net zero pledges ahead of the crucial Glasgow Climate Summit next year.
"When we helped launch the We Mean Business coalition back in 2014 it was a big bet," said Per Heggenes, CEO of the IKEA Foundation. "We did it because we felt business has both the responsibility and the capability to demonstrate leadership in the race to zero. Today we're excited that Amazon will be a part of this journey and strengthen the coalition's collective impact. By embracing both commitments to reduce GHG emissions and pursue Nature-Based Solutions as necessary, the We Mean Business coalition can accelerate private sector change at a faster pace to help secure the future livability of our planet."
Nigel Topping, UK High Level Climate Champion for COP26, said the new partnership could also help drive the 'green recovery' that a growing number of governments are committed to delivering.
"I am delighted with Amazon's efforts to galvanize businesses to race to net-zero emissions as fast as possible," he said. "This announcement comes at a critical time when we need to strengthen capacity as economies rebuild from COVID-19. The Climate Pledge - which has been a close ally of the Race to Zero campaign - will help stimulate a healthy, green recovery that creates jobs and builds resilience."
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