Unilever, Danone and Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) are among companies which have urged the UK to aim for net zero emissions by 2050.
In a letter sent to Prime Minister Theresa May, ten firms have warned of the “significant climate-related risks to health, livelihoods, food security, water security, human security, and economic growth”.
The letter – which was coordinated by the Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group and coincided with the tenth anniversary of the UK’s Climate Change Act – was signed by Unilever CEO Paul Polman, Danone UK and Ireland managing director James Pearson and CCEP general manager Leendert den Hollander.
Other signatories included CEOs from Anglian Water, Thames Water Utilities and Scottish Power.
The letter praised the UK in its efforts to reduce emissions in the ten years since adopting the Climate Change Act. “Over that time, UK emissions have fallen by over 40% while simultaneously the economy has grown by around 70%,” it read.
However, in response to the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report which warned that there is only a dozen years for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C, the companies have urged the UK to step up its efforts.
The letter stated: “We believe that to fulfil the promises made in the Paris Agreement, advanced economies like the UK should aim for net-zero emissions by 2050 at the latest, and hope the government will carefully study the evidence in the recent IPCC report and set its ambition accordingly.
“As business leaders, we understand that stretching goals bring challenges but we are also aware that the transition to a climate-safe world with net zero emissions is necessary, that the work to achieve this has already begun, and that human ingenuity can achieve wonders.
“When the government sets clear long-term goals, businesses can work to deliver higher ambition and ensure we are planning for long-term success. By making a smooth and managed transition over time, the risks of disruption to business operations can be mitigated.”
Under the Climate Change Act, the UK government is currently committed by law to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% of 1990 levels by 2050.
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