After ‘code red’ warning, Ceres launches new effort to transform six of the highest emitting sectors

Ceres has launched a new initiative aimed at decarbonizing six of the highest-emitting sectors and advancing the global transition to a zero emissions future at the pace and scale necessary in order to prevent further catastrophic impacts from the climate crisis. Last month, the world’s leading scientists sounded the alarm that the crisis is widespread, rapid, and intensifying, a warning that underlines the urgency of this effort.

The Ceres Ambition 2030 initiative focuses on the electric power, food, oil and gas, steel, banking and transportation sectors—which together are responsible for up to 80% of global emissions. Transforming these sectors in North America is necessary in order to reach the collective goal of limiting temperature rise to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius and achieve a more just and inclusive economy by 2040 or earlier. 

Building on Ceres’ long history of driving corporate climate leadership, the initiative will leverage the power of investors and other stakeholders to deepen engagements with the highest emitting North American companies in each sector. Ambition 2030 is aimed at generating new, more ambitious, and more transparent climate commitments and robust transition action plans — while also holding companies accountable to setting and achieving aggressive interim emissions reductions targets by 2030. Strong individual corporate commitments will spark a competitive cascade among companies in each of the sectors, while the initiative’s emphasis on addressing often-overlooked “Scope 3” indirect emissions will spur action across the full supply and value chains.

“We aim to catalyze a collective level of greater corporate climate action that will be powerful enough to set off a cascade of actions that will bring wholesale change in the highest emitting sectors and stabilize our rapidly warming climate in the next decade,” Steven Clarke, Ceres’ director for corporate clean energy leadership. “As we head into the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), the Ceres Ambition 2030 initiative will begin to foster healthy sectoral competition and ratchet up the corporate ambition, transparency, and accountability to drive the urgent sectoral transformation needed to slow climate change and build a more just and inclusive economy.”

A recently released report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that without immediate, large-scale emissions reductions, the target of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees will be out of reach. The report is an urgent code-red call to the private sector and companies that the time for incremental action has passed, and wholesale action is needed. To this end, Ceres’ new initiative is strategically crafted to build on its successful work in moving companies to commit to climate actions aligned with the Ceres Roadmap 2030 and the Climate Action 100+ Net Zero Company Benchmark, and drive sectoral-wide change. 

Through Ambition 2030, Ceres will move hundreds more companies to action by continuing to build the business case for sustainability; coordinating direct stakeholder engagement and dialogue; harnessing the power of investors to hold companies accountable on environmental, social and governance issues; collaborating with other groups to ensure issues of justice and equity in company value chains, including worker conditions and human rights, are addressed; delivering thought leadership and detailed analyses and guidance; and supporting innovation and technology that will speed the achievement and adoption of net zero goals. The initiative will specifically:

  • Transform the practices and policies of banking institutions that play a pivotal role in capital markets so they act on climate as a systemic financial risk.  
  • Move electric power companies to shift away from fossil-fuel resources and boost deployment of renewable energy, renewable thermal, energy efficiency and EV charging infrastructure.
  • Reshape food industries with a focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and commodity-driven deforestation.
  • Spur oil and gas companies to decrease investments in fossil fuel reserves and pivot their capital into clean energy. 
  • Accelerate the steel industry toward the use of zero emission technologies, including 100% renewable electricity and green hydrogen.
  • Drive the vehicle sector toward full electrification and move other transportation sectors to zero emissions while advocating for policies needed to ensure this transition.  

In all sectors, issues of justice and equity in company value chains, including worker conditions and human rights, will be a critical part of the initiative’s engagements with companies. Companies will also be called on to engage in effective climate policy advocacy consistent with the latest climate science to advance the just and inclusive transition. 

The global sector strategies recently released by Climate Action 100+, the world’s largest investor engagement initiative, provide crucial guidance for Ambition 2030’s work in certain sectors. In July, Ceres launched Food Emissions 50, its sector strategy to engage the highest emitting publicly traded food and agriculture companies in North America. Companies have been asked to improve greenhouse gas emissions disclosures, set ambitious emission reduction targets, and implement credible climate transition plans. 

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