The Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C (SR15) – What does it mean for business?

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Following the successful negotiation of the Paris Agreement in 2015, 195 UNFCCC members agreed to aim to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels, and to limit the increase to 1.5°C if possible. After Paris, the UNFCCC asked the IPCC to prepare a special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change.

Fast forward to two years later, and the IPCC published its Special Report on 8th October 2018. The Report’s headline message is that the world needs to act now to even come close to limiting global warming to 1.5°C. We are currently living in a world that has already warmed by 1°C since pre-industrial levels, and we may have only 12 years until we exceed emissions that would cause a 1.5°C increase.

If you’re interested in reading more from IPCC, there is a Summary for Policymakers taken from the original report.

Before 2030, to ensure there is no or limited overshoot in temperature above 1.5°C, emissions need to decrease by 45% from 2010 levels, and by around 2050 global emissions need to have reached net zero. If we miss these reduction targets, and still intend on limiting warming to below 1.5°C, the world will have to rely on novel and untested large scale technologies such as BECCS (Bio-Energy with Carbon Capture and Storage).

The risks highlighted in this Special Report are wide ranging and include ‘risks to health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, human security and economic growth’. All risks are set to have increased already and will further increase in a 1.5/2°C world. For businesses, those with large operations in the tropics and the Southern Hemisphere are projected to experience the greatest impacts on growth.

The IPCC Special Report summarises the scale of the challenge:

‘Pathways limiting global warming to 1.5°C with no or limited overshoot would require rapid and far-reaching transitions in energy, land, urban and infrastructure (including transport and buildings), and industrial systems. These systems transitions are unprecedented in terms of scale, but not necessarily in terms of speed, and imply deep emissions reductions in all sectors, a wide portfolio of mitigation options and a significant upscaling of investments in those options.’


How should businesses react?

Businesses have a hugely important role to play in limiting emissions and reacting to global warming. They are responsible for the vast majority of emissions but are also leading the way in action on climate change. Businesses can take more risks than public institutions, move in greater strides than individuals, and set longer term goals than governments which are often restricted by short-term voting cycles.

Land use change

Monitoring business impacts on land use is important for ensuring a 1.5°C or less world. Conversion of forest to other land uses, for example, has a significant impact on carbon emissions and future carbon sequestration potential. To reduce unnecessary forest loss, businesses with supply chains extending around the world need to have the appropriate tools for monitoring and reporting change. Using Ecometrica’s Mapping Platform, you can report, present and analyse satellite data to help determine where land use changes like deforestation are occurring, and where efforts to reduce or prevent change should be prioritised.

Climate risk reporting

With a rapidly changing climate expected in the coming decades, investors need to know they are invested in companies with sustainable business-models. Disclosing through CDP and annual reports is a good start, but the future is reporting aligned with the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure (TCFD) recommendations. Meeting the recommendations of the TCFD requires a number of actions, starting with robust, auditable financial quality data, through to long term scenario analysis to model the effect of future climate changes. Whilst this data is central to future CDP submissions it will open the way to better informed discussions on how climate change will impact your business and why immediate emissions reduction action is essential.

Ambitious emissions reduction targets

Make the most out of your buying power with market mechanisms and by buying green energy. Using our Sustainability Reporting Platform, you can report accurately on both your location and market based results as standard using the specific emission factors provided by your energy provider.

To make sure your business is contributing to a 1.5°C or less world, you need targets that you know are aligned with the latest climate science. We help businesses develop and monitor Science Based Targets using our Sustainability Reporting Platform and Business Intelligence technology. Ecometrica’s expert Sustainability Analysts will work with you to calculate emissions and energy reduction targets over the medium and long-term.

Contact Ecometrica to take the next steps in reporting for a 1.5°C degree world.



Reading Time: 5 Minutes

Date Published: October 16, 2018



Background Following the successful negotiation […]


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