Could Economic Headwinds Blow Climate Change Commitments Off Course? – Forbes

by | Oct 3, 2022 | Climate Change

NEW YORK – OCTOBER 13: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange moments after the … [+] opening bell October 13, 2008 in New York City. Following a rise in global markets, the Dow was up over 400 points in morning trading. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)Getty Images

You don’t need to be an economist to know that the financial markets are a bit jittery at the moment and people are once again using the dreaded “R” word – recession.

On Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average in the U.S. closed 22% below its January 5 peak.

That news followed an unpredictable week here in the U.K, where the Bank of England bought £65bn of government bonds after the new chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget sparked turmoil on financial markets and the pound plunged.

With the economic outlook looking increasingly uncertain, there are many questions about what will happen next. The inevitable question for many environmental campaigners is whether climate change commitments made by big business will start to wane in the face of such economic mayhem.
Vaughan Lindsay, the CEO of carbon finance organization Climate Impact Partners, said it will be interesting to see whether some companies “begin to back off” their climate commitments, because of the current economic headwinds many are experiencing.
“Net zero is a pledge. It’s not an action,” Lindsay told Forbes. “It’s promising to be somewhere by a certain date and seeing how well people stay firm to their net zero commitments will be one of the acid tests in years to come.”

Lindsay said there are early signs that some companies are looking to “kick the can down the road a bit” by moving climate goals from the end of this decade to a later date, like 2040 or 2050.
But he added that he did not sense any fatigue among corporations looking to protect the environment.

“We were at Climate Week in New York and there’s still a real enthusiasm to do better business and decarbonize,” he added.
Climate Impact Partners recently released the fourth annual study assessing the climate commitments and goals of Fortune Global 500 companies.
According to the report, 42% of the Fortune Global 500 have delivered, or are committed to deliver a significant climate milestone by 2030, but there are still 37% that have yet to make any significant climate commitment.
It also shows that climate commitments among this group continue to grow, but greater ambition and scope of the targets is needed.
Nearly 40% of companies have a net zero target, but nearly one third exclude Scope 3, or value chain, emissions.
Emissions generated through the corporate value chain makes up an estimated 80% of the Fortune Global 500’s footprint. Meanwhile, the Fortune Global 500 saw the highest annual growth rate in aggregate sales in history, reaching $37.8 trillion.
Lindsay said the Fortune Global 500 list is the “most representative sample of corporate activity around”.
He added it was en …

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