By Dieter Holger
More than 20 major global firms, including Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Zurich Insurance Group and Vodafone Group PLC, with a combined market value of $1.3 trillion have pledged to independently verified, ambitious targets to limit global warming, the United Nations said Tuesday
The targets will help curb global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Companies will cut emissions across not just their operations but in the goods they sell if these represent 40% or more of their total emissions.
"Climate leadership has never been more important than it is right now, and it is inspiring to see so many diverse companies and brands boldly raising their ambitions," said Lise Kingo, chief executive and executive director of the UN Global Compact, an initiative where businesses voluntarily commit to environmental and human-rights principles.
The 28 corporations are part of a growing movement that has adopted targets from the Science Based Targets Initiative, an organization founded in 2015 that has worked with around 600 firms to map out how they can slash their greenhouse gas emissions and fight global climate change.
Earlier this year, SBTI revised its criteria to allow companies to commit to helping limit global warming well below the scientific consensus level of 2 degrees Celsius, said Alberto Carrillo Pineda, director of science based targets at CDP, an environmental disclosure platform that works with investors.
To meet the goals, German business software company SAP has committed to carbon neutrality by 2025 thanks in part to improved energy efficiency at its data centers, said Daniel Schmid, chief sustainability officer at SAP.
"We are committed to join the global movement of leading companies and align our businesses with the most ambitious aim of the Paris Agreement to prevent global warming exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius," Mr. Schmid said.
Consumer-goods giant Unilever NV said it set new targets in 2015 due to mounting scientific evidence of climate change. It is now focused on lowering the environmental footprint of its products, which contribute to 40% or more of its total emissions.
"It is clear to us that no one company or country can tackle the climate crisis alone," said Thomas Lingard, global climate and environment director at Unilever.
Write to Dieter Holger at email@example.com; @dieterholger