Following the announcement that Salesforce has achieved Net Zero across its entire value chain, the company will turn next to the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26).
COP26, which aims to “unite the world to tackle climate change with the goal of securing a global Net Zero future,” is expected to be the most significant global climate conference since the 2015 Paris Agreement.
Salesforce is a Partner of the event, and Chief Impact Officer Suzanne DiBianca sat down for a virtual conversation with COP26 President-Designate, the Right Honourable Alok Sharma MP, to learn what he hopes to see accomplished in Glasgow.
Q. Why is COP26 an important milestone?
To understand that, you need to go back to Paris in 2015, where the countries of the world met for COP21 and formed the Paris Agreement, an international deal to tackle climate change.
In it, we all committed to limit the average rise in global temperature to well below two degrees, aiming for 1.5 degrees, because the science shows that this will avoid the worst effects of climate change. But since the Paris Agreement was signed the world has not done enough and now the 1.5 degree limit is in danger of slipping out of reach unless we act immediately.
So at COP26, when world leaders come to Glasgow, we need them to tackle the threat of climate change, and take action to keep the 1.5 degree limit alive, safeguarding the future for people and our planet.
Q. What are the top objectives of COP26?
Every country, business and part of society must embrace their responsibility to protect our precious planet and keep the 1.5 degree limit alive.
To achieve this, ahead of COP26, the UK has been promoting four key goals to governments around the world, driving real progress on a global scale.
- Secure global Net Zero and ambitious 2030 energy reduction targets aligned to Net Zero by middle of the century to keep 1.5 degrees within reach.
- Urgently adapt to protect communities and natural habitats.
- Mobilise finance.
- Work together to accelerate action.
Delivering on these four goals will also make our recovery from COVID-19 one that builds a better future — one with green jobs, cleaner air and increasing prosperity, without harming the planet.
To build this brighter future, we need action around the world. So as we continue to work hard towards COP26, let us seize the moment together.
Q. As the host country, what role do you see the UK playing to drive action at a global level?
The UK is currently working with every nation to reach agreement on how to tackle climate change. In November, world leaders will arrive in Scotland together with thousands of negotiators, government representatives, businesses and citizens for twelve days of talks. We are working with countries to get them to deliver on their stretching targets, by accelerating the phase-out of coal; reversing deforestation; speeding up the switch to electric vehicles; encouraging investment in renewables.
The UK is already leading by example: We have decarbonised our economy faster than any other country in the G20 since 2000. We were the first major economy to put into law that we will reach Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050. We are currently the largest producer of offshore wind energy in the world. And there will be no more coal used to generate our electricity by the end of 2024.
Q. What is the role of business at COP26 and do you have a call to action?
As COP26 President, I am asking all businesses to take immediate action and reduce emissions, build resilience and protect and restore nature, while working with others to accelerate change.
We’re inviting businesses, large and small, and from every corner of the world to join us and Salesforce in the UN’s Race To Zero campaign. Race to Zero is a global initiative, requiring science-based targets, which commit businesses, cities, regions, investors and universities to achieve Net Zero emissions by 2050 at the very latest. The campaign mobilises a coalition of leading net zero initiatives, representing 733 cities, 31 regions, 3,067 businesses, 173 of the biggest investors, and 622 Higher Education Institutions. The campaign will rally support for a healthy, resilient, zero carbon recovery that prevents future threats, creates decent jobs, and unlocks inclusive, sustainable growth. Joining the Race to Zero, through its partner initiatives, will result in the following benefits:
● Your business action being recognised as credible and science-based
● Joining a community of members spanning regions and sectors with whom to share best practices
● Accessing powerful communications material in the run up to COP26
● Playing a role in the most decisive year of climate action
The UN High Level Climate Champions are leading on work to mobilise stronger , more ambitious climate action by connecting the work of governments with the many collaborative actions taken by cities, regions, businesses and investors. Businesses can join the Race to Resilience, the Champions’ global campaign to encourage businesses, investors, cities and civil society to take action to strengthen the resilience of people from vulnerable groups and communities to climate risks.
I have set out four key goals for the COP26 Presidency. Businesses are a vital component of all the goals and can help achieve success through their own action; working with peers and across their value chains; becoming positive advocates for climate action – key to this is working with governments to let them know that businesses want stronger climate policy.
Q. Can you tell us about progress and where focus is needed most?
We have made progress. When the UK took the COP26 Presidency, less than 30% of the world economy was covered by Net Zero targets. Now it’s 70%. There have been a total of 91 NDC submissions to the UNFCCC (covering 118 Parties including the EU and its 27 Member States) to date, representing around 54% of global emissions. The Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) groups represent around 40% of all NDC submissions so far.
Every country in the G7 now has a 2030 emissions reduction target that puts them on a path to their Net Zero by 2050. And every G7 country has committed to move to overwhelmingly clean power systems in the 2030s and to stop financing coal power abroad. They have also committed to increase finance to developing countries. We are seeing momentum build in private finance too. The Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero, which commits financial firms to reach Net Zero by 2050 at the latest, represents $88trillion in assets.
But we know there is much more to be done to keep 1.5 degrees in reach: the world needs to halve emissions over the next decade and reach Net Zero carbon emissions by the middle of the century if we are to limit global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees. In particular the biggest economies, the G20 nations, all need to set ambitious emissions reduction targets. And developed countries need to deliver on their international climate finance commitments to developing countries.
Q. What role can individuals play in supporting a successful COP26?
There is a role in tackling climate change for everyone, and it is heartening to see all parts of society embracing their responsibility to safeguard our precious planet, no matter how big or small a step.
In the lead up to COP26 the UK is calling on people from all walks of life to join the ‘One Step Greener’ movement on social media by sharing how they are doing their bit for the environment, championing climate leaders in their communities, and inspiring others to follow their lead.
You can also get involved in the Together for our Planet campaign aims to promote and build engagement with COP26. Together for our Planet is working closely with businesses, civil society groups, schools and people across the UK as part of our conversation on tackling climate change.
Learn more about Salesforce’s sustainability efforts:
- Salesforce Announces COP26 Sponsorship
- Salesforce Achieves Net Zero Across Its Value Chain and 100% Renewable Energy
- Beyond Net Zero: How Nature-Based Solutions Help Tackle the Climate Crisis
- Salesforce Accelerates Ocean Sustainability Efforts
- New Initiative Launched to Improve and Scale Business Investments in Climate Solutions
- Salesforce Announces Sustainability Cloud Scope 3 Hub and New Climate Commitments to Create a More Sustainable Future
- Fighting Climate Change: Salesforce Surpasses 10 Million Tree Milestone in 12 Months
- Accenture and Salesforce Expand Partnership to Help Companies Embed Sustainability into the Core of their Business