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Environment

Europe’s Biggest Companies Need to Double Their Low-Carbon Investments to Hit Net Zero: Report

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Bringing carbon emissions down to net zero levels by 2050 is essential for preventing the worst effects of climate change. Climate change will lead to natural disasters and other extreme weather patterns that could cause droughts, displacement, and other crises that will affect the world’s most vulnerable populations. The United Nations' Global Goal 13 urges countries to invest in climate action. You can join us in taking action on this and related issues here.

Europe’s biggest corporations must more than double their low-carbon capital investments if the European Union is to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, according to a new report.

The report was published this month by CDP, a UK-based organisation that works to disclose the environmental impact of major corporations.

It found that, in 2019, European corporations invested €59 billion in low-carbon efforts; but estimated that this investment would need to increase to €122 billion a year to achieve the EU’s carbon emissions targets.

This total doesn’t include investment in research and development for low carbon technologies, the rates of which may also need to more than double, the study said.

While it sounds like a lot, €122 billion a year would amount to only 25% of total corporate expenditures by these companies annually, the study said. Companies are currently investing about 12% of their annual spending on low carbon.

The bulk of the current capital investments has gone to support renewable energy and energy grid infrastructure, as well as smart energy technology, according to the Guardian.

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In total, 882 companies reported data to CDP for the study, with 92% of these companies in the high-emitting sectors of materials, energy, and transport. These businesses combined account for 75% of the EU’s total emissions footprint, according to Edie.

Companies in Germany are leading the way in investment in low-carbon technology, accounting for more than a third of Europe’s low-carbon investment, the Guardian noted.

Meanwhile, the study found that companies from Spain contributed 31% of the continent’s low-carbon spending; and Italy contributed 20%. On the other hand, companies from France contributed just 5% of low-carbon investment; Denmark, 4%; and the UK, 3%.

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The CDP study called for bold action to push companies to increase their low-carbon capital investments, action that it said would fit within the scope of proposed initiatives such as the European Green Deal.

Some of the reforms the study suggests include making climate data more transparent, and promoting public financing, which would take the risk out of investing in low carbon.

"Action on policies and regulation must be matched by action in the private sector, where the decisions to lend and invest will be taken," the report highlighted.

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Achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 is necessary to the fight to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and prevent the worst effects of climate change.

The Paris climate agreement calls for countries to keep a global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius this century, and to make an effort to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius. According to the Climate Action Tracker, however, the EU’s current efforts aren’t yet enough to keep the world’s temperature increase below 2 degrees Celsius.