Third of FTSE100 commit to net zero

One in three of the UK’s largest and most influential businesses, representing a total of £650 billion, have formally committed to eliminating their contribution to climate change as soon as possible. By Climate Champions | March 30, 2021

In only six weeks, the number of FTSE100 companies joining the Race to Zero – the largest ever global alliance committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 at the very latest – has increased by 11, bringing the total to 30.

This accelerating pace, coupled with last week’s news that Race to Zero participants now cover 15% of the global economy, according to Nigel Topping, UK High Level Climate Champion for COP26, shows: “we are close to a critical inflection point, with credible net zero commitments fast becoming the new normal.” He warned, “companies that have so far failed to engage with climate change risk falling behind the curve.”

New companies to sign up include: AstraZeneca, BT, Sainsbury’s, Vodafone and Unilever. AstraZeneca has pledged to eliminate carbon emissions from its global operations by 2025 and remove their carbon footprint across the entire supply chain by 2030. The pharmaceutical company’s plan involves doubling its energy productivity, using 100% renewable energy for power and heat, and eliminating fluorinated man-made gas emissions from its sites.

AstraZeneca CEO, Pascal Soriot, said: “Climate change is an urgent threat to public health, the environment and the sustainability of the global economy. Science tells us now is the time to act faster to tackle this challenge.”

Behavioural change

Accelerating momentum across such influential businesses is welcome news in the run up to this year’s major round of UN climate talks, COP26, where governments must strengthen their contributions to the Paris Agreement and where net zero will be a major theme.

While still eight months until the pivotal Glasgow conference, the rising number of such influential businesses joining the Race gives a clear signal to governments that the transition to a decarbonized economy is underway and picking up pace.

We are close to a critical inflection point, with credible net zero commitments fast becoming the new normal – Nigel Topping

“Businesses wield incredible influence, with their actions encouraging widespread behavioural change across society and the economy – we need to harness this power to fight climate change,” UK Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said.

UK Net Zero Business Champion Andrew Griffith said: “Since firing the starting gun on the year-long road to Glasgow a few months ago, we have seen an accelerating rate of the UK’s largest and most successful businesses taking action on climate.”

Since his appointment in November 2020, Griffith has written to every UK FTSE100 company, engaging directly with 77 of their Chairpersons or CEOs. UK companies now make up 400 of the 1,675 companies, from across all sectors, from transport to finance, signed up to Race to Zero.

The new normal

Some 2,822 participants are now signed up to Race to Zero – a figure expected to soar higher still in the build up to COP26. Currently, 85 major investors, 1,675 businesses, 22 regions, 569 universities, and 471 cities have successfully qualified to join.

To be accepted into the Race, company leaders must pledge to reach net-zero by 2050, in line with global efforts to limit warming to 1.5C. Companies are also asked to publish a five to ten year plan of how they will achieve their net zero target, as well as to sign up to Science Based Targets as a way of monitoring and assessing progress.

If you’re not already part of the most important race in history, please click here to discover how to get to the starting line.

List of FTSE100 companies in the Race to Zero as of March 23:

AstraZeneca plc; Aviva plc; Barratt Developments; Berkeley Group Holdings; British Land; BT Group plc; Burberry Group plc; Croda International; Diageo plc; Entain; GlaxoSmithKline plc; Intern’l Consolidated Airlines Group; Intertek; JD Sports; Land Securities; Legal & General Group plc; London Stock Exchange Group plc; Phoenix Group; Reckitt Benckiser; Rightmove; Rolls Royce Holdings plc; J Sainsbury plc; Schroders; Severn Trent; SSE plc; Tesco plc; Unilever plc; 28 United Utilities; Vodafone Group plc; WPP plc.