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More than 200 of the world’s biggest companies, among them Shell, Chevron, Volkswagen and PepsiCo, have just committed to reach net-zero emissions no later than 2050 along with a slew of other environmental targets. The group represents members of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), who have recently set out new requirements for businesses as part of their membership conditions.
Members of the WBCSD, comprising over 200 global companies, have just accepted the new rules put forward by the organisation’s Council Executive Committee, which raises the bar for businesses to commit to sustainability. The new rules will mean that member companies must set an ambition to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 that is backed by a science-based plan, as well as goals to contribute to nature and biodiversity recovery.
Other criteria include a declaration of support to the United Nations human rights principles for businesses, demonstrable through implementing a policy to ensure human rights due diligence in their firms. The companies will additionally need to declare their support to inclusion and diversity, as well as disclosing sustainability information to ensure transparency and aligning their business strategies with environmental, social and governance-related (ESG) risks.
Now, in our 25th year, we decided to bring our membership conditions in line with the urgent challenges facing our society by adding five new criteria to our membership conditions. The conditions will let our member companies focus on putting credible science-based action plans into motion to transform our economic systems.Peter Bakker, President & CEO of WBCSD
“This marks an important moment for WBCSD. Since the start in 1995, we have been the go-to place for businesses that are serious about sustainability and demonstrate true leadership for sustainable development,” said Peter Bakker, president and CEO of WBCSD.
“Now, in our 25th year, we decided to bring our membership conditions in line with the urgent challenges facing our society by adding five new criteria to our membership conditions. The conditions will let our member companies focus on putting credible science-based action plans into motion to transform our economic systems.”
While all members, in agreeing to the new regulations, have committed themselves to science-aligned climate and environmental targets, it could prove a difficult task for some of the companies to comply. The WBCSD includes some of the world’s most polluting firms, such as oil giants Chevron, Equinor and Shell, automobile behemoths Volkswagen and Toyota, and FMCG majors P&G, PepsiCo and agribusiness Cargill.
Getting the new membership criteria approved was a first major step, now we need to keep the momentum going and step up on the critical work needed for that.Peter Bakker, President & CEO of WBCSD
These companies will need to prepare over the next two years to report to the organisation as to how they will adhere to the criteria laid out. From 2023 onwards, the WBCSD says they will begin monitoring their members through annual reports.
“Getting the new membership criteria approved was a first major step, now we need to keep the momentum going and step up on the critical work needed for that,” said Bakker.
In the face of a pandemic that is upending the way our world operates, global firms have been making greater strides to step up their sustainability commitments. Just last week, companies making up the Global Investors for Sustainable Development Alliance (GISD), among them Standard Chartered, UBS and Allianz, agreed to take action on a range of issues to align their business with the SDGs and to accelerate global sustainable investment.
In late May, Unilever, H&M and Nestlé were among the 155 companies with a combined worth of over US$2 trillion urging governments to make net-zero emissions the centre of coronavirus recovery plans.
Lead image courtesy of WBCSD.