Polluters Make Some Net-Zero Progress, Climate Action 100+ Says

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Three years after some of the world’s biggest investors joined forces to pressure the largest producers of greenhouse gases to cut emissions, about half of them have made net-zero commitments.

Climate Action 100+, an investor group with 545 members managing a combined $52 trillion of assets, said in a report Thursday that 43% of the initiative’s 160 focus companies, which include the likes of BP Plc and Exxon Mobil Corp., have set targets for net-zero emissions by 2050. Still, the group said there’s plenty of work to do since more than half of the companies have made no plans and only 10% have targets for customer emissions known as Scope 3.

Net-zero targets have become a meaningful issue for investors because if companies fail to cut the greenhouse gases from their operations and customers, the ambition to limit global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels will become unattainable. The companies targeted by Climate Action are responsible for more than 80% of global industrial greenhouse gas emissions.

“Firms yet to come forward with net-zero plans will come under growing pressure, as investor willingness to escalate their engagement will be the new norm,” said Stephanie Pfeifer, a member of Climate Action’s steering committee, in a statement. “Long-term ambition needs to be made real with clear short- and medium-term targets, and capex alignment to support delivery of those goals.”

Climate Action said only 26% of the electric utilities on its focus list have a plan to phase out coal in a way that’s consistent with the 2015 Paris Agreement. In addition, 194 oil and gas projects sanctioned by focus companies this year aren’t aligned with the Paris goals, while companies in the auto sector are still “largely falling short of the investment required to switch technologies at an appropriate pace from internal combustion engines to hybrid and electric vehicles.”

Investors are increasingly determined to identify “which companies will be on the right and wrong side of climate history,” Mark Carney, a former Bank of England governor and current United Nations Special Envoy for Climate Action, wrote in the report.

The report follows a September request from Climate Action’s steering committee that the companies it follows commit to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, including Scope 3.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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