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The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has called on the UK government to instruct Britain’s leading companies to plan for net zero climate emissions.
The international organisation, which was founded in 1961, warned that the government would not be able to keep its climate promises of achieving net zero by 2050 without making significant changes within big businesses.
It found that only 19% of FTSE 100 (^FTSE) firms have published a detailed action plan to reduce their climate emission to net zero, with more than a quarter of them having not made this promise at all.
“While some UK companies and financial institutions are stepping up to the challenge to reduce their climate emissions, too many are failing,” it said.
WWF, which works in the field of wilderness preservation and the reduction of human impact on the environment, highlighted that the world was on the “brink of irreversible harm” if the global temperature rises above 1.5°C.
It added that FTSE 100 companies are, on aggregate, based on Science Based Targets Initiative (STBI) estimates, currently on a 3°C pathway.
If left unmanaged, this would be catastrophic for both people and wildlife, WWF said.
“To avoid the worst impacts of climate change, global emissions need to be cut by around 50% by 2030 and big businesses will play a crucial part of this”.
Tanya Steele, CEO of WWF UK, said: “It is six years since the Paris Climate Agreement set a target to keep global temperature rise to below 1.5°C and most of the UK’s largest businesses aren’t doing nearly enough to curb their emissions to make our planet safe for future generations.”
“We cannot rely on voluntary measures to tackle the greatest crisis of our time.”
The comments come ahead of the UN climate conference, held in Glasgow next month.
The COP26 conference, which is being held between 1 and 12 November, will be the largest summit the UK has ever hosted and has been described as the most significant climate event since the global Paris Agreement was secured in 2015.
It will have dozens of world leaders in attendance and bring together representatives from nearly 200 countries, including experts and campaigners.
It was originally scheduled for November 2020, but was delayed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Watch: Climate Change: COP26 might change our world