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Decade of (in)action: Are corporate 2030 climate plans fit for purpose?

The 2020s are the critical decade for climate action, according to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In order to limit global temperature rises to the 1.5°C agreed on by the international community requires, the IPCC estimates, humanity will need to almost halve its carbon footprint by 2030.

Large corporations represent an outsized portion of global emissions and so have an outsized responsibility to reduce their climate impact. Many of them have committed to achieve “net zero” emissions by 2050, questionable claims that the Corporate Climate Responsibility Monitor has analysed, but are they on track to halving their emissions by 2030?

With the world apparently heating up faster than expected – exemplified by 2023 being the hottest year on record, registering an average temperature almost 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels – the question has become even more pressing. While 2050 targets often dominate discussions, the next five to ten years are critical to get it right. This year’s CCRM delves into the crucial significance of 2030 targets, revealing a trend of insufficient ambition.

As this year’s edition of the CCRM reveals, the median absolute emissions reduction commitments by 2030 for the 51 companies assessed was as little as 30% (and 33% at the most optimistic), whereas the world needs a 43% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and 48% in carbon emissions below 2019 levels to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5°C. The urgency of setting the right targets, and meeting them, cannot be overstated, as failure to do so not only jeopardises our collective chances of bringing about positive change but also sends the wrong signal to the world regarding the commitment of corporations to climate action.

The consequences of corporate inaction extend beyond the immediate future, posing threats to both the social fabric and economic stability. As this report demonstrates, setting and meeting the right 2030 targets is not only a matter of environmental responsibility, it is also a strategic imperative for mitigating risks, and averting catastrophic tipping points.

You can find more information about the 2024 Corporate Climate Responsibility Monitor methodology here.

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