Excerpt from Fast Company – By Dan Osusky
As the world’s governments continue to balk at taking the necessary aggressive action, more and more companies are announcing what appear to be bold climate commitments, stepping up to take action where countries are not.
But while more than 3,000 businesses have made commitments within initiatives of the UNFCCC’s Race to Zero campaign, that’s a drop in the bucket. Only 42.8% of Russell 1000 companies have disclosed a commitment to reducing emissions, with only about 26% having more rigorous commitments including Net Zero by 2050 or an approved science based target. You might conclude that we need more climate commitments.
How to bridge the gap between these perspectives? More action is necessary, and commitments are one way to do that, but rather than focus on the commitments themselves, let’s focus on accountability to the commitments.
Accountability can ensure that the commitments being made are meaningful: ambitious and aligned with the science on timelines, including in their scope the things that matter (like all emissions from a product’s supply chain and use, and the greenhouse gases beyond carbon), and the methods to achieve them (i.e. direct reductions, removals, offsets, and so on). It also ensures that the commitments are actually upheld—not only by the “end date” of the commitment, but in regular increments that demonstrate that the end goal is actually feasible and on track.
Where commitments are valuable are as a means to enable accountability. Once a commitment is made, that commitment can be scrutinized and evaluated. It’s not all negative: the right commitments can be applauded and praised for positive reinforcement. When necessary, they can be criticized and condemned. But once a commitment is made, transparency needs to follow. Lack of transparency can itself be criticized, and when we have transparency, it’s possible to ensure that companies are living up to their commitments on a regular basis and following through with the proportionate level of action and achievement of results towards their end goal.