Limiting global warming to 1.5°C is at the bottom of global companies’ wish list at this year’s Cop28, new research shows.
The findings suggest that business has no confidence in Cop26’s Glasgow climate pact’s pledge to “keep 1.5C alive” and that some markets are already pricing in exceeding the target, according to researchers at consultancy East & Partners and Consulting Impact & Influence.
The study published today comes exactly six months before the global climate conference Cop28 in Dubai in November.
Scientists have warned that warming above 1.5°C is likely to trigger irreversible tipping points that would lead to the collapse of life on Earth.
The researchers, who spoke to more than 1,300 companies after contacting the top 100 companies by revenue in 14 countries including the UK, found that the global business community is most concerned about having a stronger voice in discussions at Cop28 have.
Business leaders in most markets highlighted ‘private sector engagement’ as the key theme at Cop28, most relevant to their company.
This was followed by climate finance reform, green innovation and technology, biodiversity, inclusion and finally “keeping 1.5°C alive”.
The results have raised concerns that companies are losing sight of the bigger picture of how they can help limit global warming to 1.5°C. But they have also prompted calls for Cop28 organizers to provide a more meaningful forum for global business leaders to discuss.
“It is alarming that just two years after Cop26, the issue of keeping 1.5C alive ranks so low among global corporations,” said Rishi Bhattacharya, CEO and Founder of Impact & Influence.
“This suggests they may be considering an overshoot.” It’s more important than ever to communicate the need for businesses to be part of the solution.
“With the upcoming Cop28 in Dubai, it is more important than ever to ensure corporate participation in the climate discussion as their participation increases the likelihood of success in tackling climate change.”
Paul Dowling, co-founder of East & Partners added: “Right now, business leaders are feeling left out of the climate discussions.”
“The organizers of this year’s Cop28 would be wise to bring them together, not only to inspire confidence in the process, but also to leverage the immense resources and innovation that the private sector can bring to the fight against climate change .”
“Joint efforts between governments and businesses are essential to achieve our global climate goals – not least to keep 1.5°C alive.”
Carbon offsetting costs are likely to increase
The cost of carbon offsetting for businesses could double by 2030, according to a new analysis.
A report published by Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) found that FTSE 350 companies have publicly reported voluntary carbon offset purchases totaling £38m in 2022.
However, an analysis of BloombergNEF forecasts suggests that the same volume of compensation could cost companies more than £154m by the end of the decade – a rise of 256%.
It also found that prices are expected to continue rising into 2050, with the cost of the same amount of offsets peaking at £356m as companies struggle to reach net zero targets.
The results have prompted warnings that companies may not be able to meet their targets if they find them unaffordable in the future because their strategies have not factored in rising price increases.
The study follows warnings from scientists earlier this month that the world is likely to surpass 1.5 degrees in the next five years.
Professor Johan Rockstrom of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research said at the Innovation Zero Congress in London last week: “1.5 °C is not a target.” I call that a physical limit.
“At 1.5°C we have five major tipping point systems that are likely to be exceeded.” One of them is the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. The other is the Greenland Ice Sheet. The third are all tropical coral reef systems.
“The fourth problem is the abrupt thawing of permafrost in the northern zone and the fifth is sea ice in the Bering Sea. These are likely to be exceeded at 1.5°C, but we don’t know how many years we can stay above 1.5°C.’ C before this inflection point is persistent.’
The UN has said global greenhouse gas emissions need to peak no later than 2025 and fall by 43% by 2030 to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C (2.7°F) above pre-industrial levels – the Parisian Agreement set goal.
Scientists estimate the Earth is currently on track to warm by 2.5°C by the year 2100, which will completely melt the major ice sheets, thaw permafrost, destroy rainforests and lead to the collapse of marine life, during which time about a third of the equator becomes uninhabitable for humans.
The researchers said they spoke to more than 90% of the top 100 companies by revenue in the UK, Brazil, Canada, the US, China, Australia, India, Japan, Singapore, France, Germany, Kenya, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates during a two-week period ending March 14.
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