Taking action to transform to net zero

2 Mar · 3 min read

As a cross-sector collaborative initiative seeking to accelerate business transformation to net zero emissions, Transform to Net Zero is keenly aware of the scale of action needed to meet global climate goals.

That scale and urgency is made even clearer by the findings of the IPCC’s report Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability just this week.

Our eleven members have made a commitment to net zero emissions by 2050 or sooner. Our members are also committed to demonstrable progress in the short and medium term, both to achieve the long term goal, and also to make clear that net zero targets are viable, and that commitments are credible.

In fact, our 2025 goal is to enable the world’s largest 1,000 companies to have targets to achieve net zero no later than 2050, specifically backed up by meaningful transition plans.

Defining net zero

Our foundational Position Paper and Action Plan published in 2021 delivered our working definition of net zero, which we further clarified later in the year. Robust net zero goals should:

  • Be rigorous 1.5°C-ambition aligned, with short-term and long-term reductions across the value chain
  • Be transformational, and backed by clear delivery plans
  • Use mitigation measures beyond the value chain, as a complement -not a substitute- of 1.5°C-aligned decarbonization
  • Ensure equitable outcomes

Getting to a net zero economy is a must and while the journey for each company will be different, there is a need for more consistency and internationally recognized standards around the definition of robust net zero targets. This landscape is still evolving and our members are engaging constructively with civil society and governments to accelerate this development, and contributing to industry alignment to robust net zero goals.

Ensuring credibility

Many observers, experts and stakeholders have questioned the degree to which net zero commitments by companies – as well as countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions – are credible. Transform to Net Zero member companies believe that these questions are natural and healthy. They reinforce the need to move from ambition to action, and intention to achievement. They also highlight the particular challenge of addressing emissions embedded in value chains.

The shift to a net zero economy is a mammoth undertaking of historical significance; it is essential that we act with urgency, and also learn what works and what doesn’t and make adjustments as we go. External validation of plans and progress is a valuable contribution to this process. That is why we are committed to putting a critical lens to our own plans and approaches on a regular basis. It is truly ‘learning by doing’ as companies achieve progress, aiming to transcend roadblocks and address trade-offs along the way.

Acting with urgency

While the thousands of net zero commitments are extremely important, the fact remains that the world is not on track to deliver the 1.5°C ambition. It is therefore essential that all companies act boldly now and with urgency, with short-term as well as long-term action. Early movers, with both their successes and failures, have a responsibility to help all companies accelerate robust net zero action and address the challenges of making progress openly and with a commitment to translate ambition into action.

Transform to Net Zero invites organizations to take urgent action to:

  • Transform: Set net zero targets grounded in short-term decarbonization across scopes, develop a transparent delivery plan, and don’t delay in reshaping the key business functions, models, and products and services needed to achieve those targets.
  • Collaborate: Collaboration is essential. We need industry partners to shift their entire sector and facilitate cross-learning from companies in different sectors to accelerate progress.
  • Share learnings: Shared learnings and failures help all companies to step up. That is why in 2021 we started publishing Transformation Guides on specific topics of the net zero transition, such as engaging suppliers to achieve Scope 3 goals.
  • Prioritize inclusion: In transforming businesses throughout the value chain, enable climate solutions that are just and equitable, through meaningful engagement with and amplification of the voices and solutions of frontline organizations serving those most impacted by climate change.

 Measurement frameworks

Increased accountability on how companies deliver on their net zero goals is an essential part of this transformation.  Transform to Net Zero members welcome frameworks that contribute to defining what robust net zero looks like, such as the SBTi net zero standard; the necessary increased scrutiny by all stakeholders, including the recent Corporate Climate Responsibility Monitor report; and the increase in climate regulations occurring in different geographies.

Transform to Net Zero members welcome constructive dialogue and effective accountability systems to ensure that net zero goals are achieved. We believe these, along with the other steps mentioned here, are necessary to deliver the net zero economy we need.

2 Mar - 3 min read