Has the penny finally dropped with British big businesses about climate change? That could be the case, as 30 of the top FTSE 100 companies have just signed up to a United Nations’ campaign to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
The UK government broke the news as part of its commitment to the UN’s race-to-zero campaign.
Among the signees are AstraZeneca, BT Group, Sainsbury’s, and Unilever. Together they represent a total market capitalisation of £650bn. Many of the groups are also feature prominently in the Tortoise Responsibility 100 Index which ranks the FTSE 100 companies on their commitment to key social, environmental and ethical objectives, inspired by the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
It’s not just the UK either. Over 2,000 companies across the globe have joined the Race to Zero campaign so far, though the UK business community is the biggest single contributor to the list of companies signed up to the campaign.
Both the UK government and its businesses will be in the spotlight later this year as Glasgow hosts the COP26 Climate Summit in November. The UK’s track record, in comparison with other countries, is fairly impressive. It was the world’s first major economy to commit to eliminating its contribution to climate change when in 2019 it adopted a legal target to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Yet there are many critics who argue that the rhetoric has yet to be matched by the action pointing to recent government moves such as the cutting of the Green Homes Grant and the continued support for cabin-intensive oil and gas industries.
UK business and energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng called for more businesses to sign up.,
“UK businesses are already leading the way in cutting carbon emissions and building back greener – it is fantastic to see so many of our biggest companies already pledging to reach net zero,” Kwarteng said. “But more can be done, and so today I am calling on more fantastic British companies to step up, follow suit, and pledge to join the fight against climate change.”