Quantitative evaluation of large corporate climate action initiatives shows mixed progress in their first half-decade

Ivan Ruiz Manuel*, Kornelis Blok

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
31 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Corporate climate initiatives such as the Science-Based Targets initiative and RE100 have gained significant prominence in recent years, with considerable increases in membership and several ex-ante studies stating how they could bring substantive emissions reductions beyond national goals. However, studies evaluating their progress are scarce, raising questions on how members achieve targets and whether their contributions are genuinely additional. Here we assess these initiatives by disaggregating membership by sector and geographic region and then thoroughly evaluating their progress between 2015–2019 using public environmental data disclosed by 102 of their largest members by revenue. Our results show that the collective Scope 1 and 2 emissions of these companies have fallen by 35.6%, with companies generally on track or exceeding scenarios keeping global warming below 2 °C. However, most of these reductions are concentrated in a small number of intensive companies. Most members show little evidence of emission reductions within their operations, only achieving progress via renewable electricity purchases. We highlight how intermediate steps regarding data robustness and implementation of sustainability measures are lacking: 75% of public company data is independently verified at low levels of assurance, and 71% of renewable electricity is obtained through low-impact or undisclosed sourcing models.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3487
JournalNature Communications
Volume14
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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