This is the decisive decade for humanity — we must halve emissions, reverse biodiversity loss and enhance resilience. Financial institutions and corporations play a critical role, with over 450 financial institutions and 7,000 corporations in the Race to Zero committed to net zero targets.
Nevertheless, this is not enough. We need more finance and business leaders to see nature as a critical ally in net zero delivery. Tropical deforestation linked to commodity production alone accounts for 8% of all CO2 emissions. We need collective action to halt deforestation today.
At a London Climate Action Week event on 29 June, hosted by the UN Climate Change High-Level Champions, speakers highlighted the need and opportunities for private sector breakthroughs, the action delivered to date and the tools required to reach a net zero, nature positive future.
Speakers included Brazilian Indigenous activist, Txai Suruí, joint director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Johan Rockström and CEO of Schroders, Peter Harrison.
Rockström said if it weren’t for nature we’d already have crossed 1.5C, but stated we are already in the danger zone on natural sinks like forests and oceans. CEO of Storebrand Asset Management, Jan Erik Saugestad underlined that, “biodiversity is key for economic and financial growth.”
“We have to point fingers but also work with the 400 companies listed on the Brazilian stock exchange to engage with them on deforestation,” said Partner & Head of ESG at JGP, José Pugas.
Vice chair of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ), Mary Shapiro urged for an “urgent focus on forests and nature” and reminded delegates that over half of the world’s GDP is moderately or highly dependent on nature and its services.
The event also discussed new analysis, commissioned by the UN Climate Change High-Level Champions, which found a five-fold increase in companies committed to net-zero from the forest, land and agriculture sectors — the second highest emitting industry after energy.
Closing the event, UN High-Level Climate Champion for COP26, Nigel Topping spoke of the “pathetic rate of change.”
“Since COP26 we’ve gone from 33-35 investors committed to ending deforestation. At this rate, it would take 125+ years to bring on GFANZ. Similarly, we have 6% of corporations in the Forest500 at risk of failing to deliver on their net zero targets because of inadequate action on land use emissions. Are we stupid or are we cowards? Do we have the smarts and the courage to tackle this challenge? It’s time to step up and lead and reap the rewards,” he concluded.