A leading group of investors has sent a letter to the boards of the world’s largest corporate emitters of greenhouse gases, asking them to produce a strategy to move their business to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 or sooner. The investors will now follow the progress of such strategies based on a group of 30 indicators.
The Climate Action 100+ initiative was launched in 2017 and includes more than 500 global investors that collectively manage over $47 trillion in assets. They targeted 161 companies in their letter, which are collectively responsible for up to 80% of global industrial greenhouse gas emissions.
"Companies across all sectors need to take more ambitious action to ensure otherwise devastating impacts of climate change are avoided while they still can be," Stephanie Pfeifer, CEO of Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change and a member of the Climate Action 100+, said in a statement. “A broader step change is urgently required.”
The investor group’s companies of interest are from various sectors, including oil and gas, utilities and power producers, transportation, mining and minerals, construction materials, industrials, chemicals, and food, beverages, and forestry. The lists include Dow, Nestlé, BP and Walmart, with over two-thirds based in Europe and the US.
These companies have made some progress on climate action, the investors acknowledged. More than 100 of them have a board member with the explicit responsibility overseeing climate-friendly action, while 50 have net-zero emission targets by 2050 or sooner. Nevertheless, this isn’t enough, they argued, asking for companies to be more ambitious.
“There are urgency and seriousness with which investors are looking for progress," Pfeifer said. “We welcome the progress made so far but we really want to see further progress. When you've made a commitment we want to see the details of how that is going to be implemented, and when you haven't made a commitment yet we want to see that as soon as possible."
Following their letter, the Climate Action 100+ will soon judge progress by companies based on 30 indicators. They are currently developing the Climate Action 100+ Net-Zero Company Benchmark, which will be released next year. Some of the indicators will include capital alignment, governance, just transition, targets and goals and decarbonization strategy.
The indicators will be designed to clarify investor expectations and show which companies are leading the transition to net-zero emissions. The investor group asked companies to provide disclosures consistent with the benchmark “to enable investors to assess your company's potential for long-term value.”