At the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, 195 countries committed to the scientific community’s assessment and signed an agreement that aims to limit global warming to 2°C. To reach this goal, countries will have to reduce CO₂ emissions by 45%, compared to the 2010 levels, by 2030.
The change is significant — but the current commitments made by the countries are not enough. The carbon budget calculated for the next hundred years for the earth will run out even if all countries that signed the agreement reach their goals on time or even exceeded them.
Companies now have the chance to rise to the front line in the fight against climate change, working towards common climate targets with determination and resilience, as well as encouraging countries and people to aim to limit global warming to 2°C, or even 1.5°C. When everyone takes part, it creates a loop of positive effects, which allows for every operator to find new resources and to outdo themselves.
However, it can be difficult for companies, let alone consumers and private investors, to find reliable, substantiated information about whether a company’s climate targets are in line with the Paris agreement.
There is a solution to this problem.
The non-profit Science Based Targets initiative offers companies tools to check and verify that their climate targets are in line with the targets agreed in Paris. The initiative was launched by CDP (formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project), the UN Global Compact (UNGC), World Resources Institute (WRI) and World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF).
We submitted our commitment to the Science Based Targets initiative in 2017, and we have now received verification of our targets.
The validation process for climate targets is strict and requires thorough preparation by the company. Our climate targets for 2030, which we drew up in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, helped us on this journey. Over the past three years, we have succeeded in reducing our CO₂ emissions by approximately three percent annually.
Science Based Targets initiative offers three different approaches for setting a target. We use the approach based on industrial sectors. UPM is part of the forest industry and paper product sector, and a carbon budget has been calculated for this sector for the next hundred years.
We have committed to reduce the CO₂ emissions caused by our operations and the energy we purchase by 30% by 2030 (compared to the 2008 level). In addition, we are committed to reducing the CO₂ emissions caused by our products throughout their value chain—from production to use and disposal—by 30%.
Our climate targets place our operations within the limits of the carbon budget. This means that we are doing our part to keep global warming below 2°C. It does not necessarily mean that we would stop there. We are aiming for continuous improvement. We regularly check that we are going in the right direction fast enough.
At the time of writing, 612 companies had taken part in the Science Based Targets initiative, with three of these having joined this week. In September 2018, 17% of the world’s 500 largest companies had taken part in the initiative.
Sufficient changes can only be achieved with maximum participation in the initiative. Those who don’t believe in the science community’s assessment of the existence or reasons for climate change will also benefit.