Ceres' Impact at the Start of This Critical Decade Grows With Scores Joining Its Powerful Networks and Participating in New Initiatives

Dec 15, 2021 4:00 PM ET
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December 15, 2021 /3BL Media/ - Amid rising action in tackling the climate crisis and other sustainability challenges, Ceres grew significantly in 2021 with scores of new institutional investors and major companies joining its powerful networks and global collaborations and five new groundbreaking initiatives that will drive more equitable market-based and policy solutions throughout the economy.

The Boston-based sustainability nonprofit experienced more than a 50% growth in the membership of its three networks to a combined 350 members. The Ceres Investor Network grew to 217 investors responsible for a combined $49 trillion in assets — a sum more than twice the annual GDP of the United States. The Ceres Policy Network, known as Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy (BICEP), grew to 77 companies, as 11 well-known brands joined the group to advocate for key federal and state climate and clean energy policies. And the Ceres Company Network welcomed six members to its collective of 56 companies working to advance sustainable and climate-smart business models.

In the past year, Ceres also launched a number of groundbreaking initiatives that galvanized these companies and investors to more ambitious action. Its new Ambition 2030 is focused on decarbonizing the highest-emitting industrial sectors, driving greater corporate ambition, transparency, and accountability for aggressive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. A key part of that effort is Food Emissions 50, a new investor-led initiative engaging 50 of the highest-emitting food sector companies to improve disclosure, set ambition reduction targets, and implement climate transition action plans.

With its global partners, Ceres mobilized hundreds of the largest asset managers and asset owners in the world to commit to the goal of net zero emissions by 2050 or sooner, both in their own portfolios and in the real economy. The Net Zero Asset Managers Initiative, which launched a year ago, grew to include 221 investors with a combined $57 trillion in assets in just one year. Ceres also worked with its partners to expand the Paris Aligned Investment Initiative to a global force for raising the ambition of asset owners, raising the number of signatories to 51 asset owners with $2.9 trillion in assets. Ceres and its partners in The Investor Agenda developed the Investor Climate Action Plans (ICAPs) Expectations Ladder and Guidance to support investors in implementing climate actions plans and delivering on their climate commitments. Meanwhile, Climate Action 100+ accelerated its work with the largest corporate greenhouse gas emitters by engaging with them on meeting key indicators in the Net-Zero Company Benchmark, and the initiative grew to include 617 investors managing a combined $60 trillion.

“Investors in 2021 really came to recognize the urgency of the climate crisis, and the water emergency and human rights challenges that society faces and which threaten the economy and investor returns. They gravitated to action, particularly collaborative action, because these problems are much larger than any one investor can solve,” said Rev. Kirsten Snow Spalding, Senior Program Director of the Ceres Investor Network at Ceres. “Yet investors also recognized the need for individual action and came to us for help in implementing climate action plans to transition their portfolios.”

As the new climate-friendly administration took hold in Washington, the Ceres BICEP Network brought crucial business voices to federal policy debates and numerous state policy debates as well as to international forums such as the United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties 26 (COP 26), assuring governments knew that “America is All In.” Through sign-on letters and meetings with individual members of Congress here in the U.S., corporate members helped get key legislation over the finish line, including the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was signed into law in November with Ceres CEO and President Mindy Lubber in attendance at the White House. A record number of 400 companies signed a letter advocating for strong clean energy, zero emissions transportation and climate justice measures be included in the Build Back Better bill, crucial legislation for enabling the U.S. to fulfill its commitments to the Paris Agreement.

“The continued growth of the Ceres Policy Network has increased our shared influence and leverage for positive climate policy action during a critical time of opportunity with strong leadership in Washington,” said Anne Kelly, Vice President of Government Relations at Ceres. “From Glasgow to Capitol Hill and in statehouses across the country, forward-looking companies continue to show their commitment to climate policy advocacy, making it clear that we cannot afford to continue business as usual. Heading into the new year, the business voice is more important than ever in helping the U.S. – and countries the world over – take bold policy action to prevent catastrophic climate change and build a better and more equitable future.”

Meanwhile, the largest-ever Global Investor Statement to Governments on the Climate Crisis – with 733 investors managing $52 trillion in assets signing on — was released as nations convened for COP 26, asking governments to mandate climate risk disclosure, phase out thermal coal and develop a price on carbon. At the same time, 750 companies urged governments to cut emissions by 2030 to keep the 1.5 degree goal within reach and require corporate climate risk disclosure.

The Ceres Accelerator for Sustainable Capital Markets, a center within Ceres, also experienced growth this year, and as a result, Ceres’ influence with federal regulators has increased significantly. In 2021, the Ceres Accelerator was instrumental in mobilizing hundreds of investors and companies to call for strong climate risk mandates as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission considered a new rule, and to comment on the federal Department of Labor rulemaking process on allowing retirement funds to consider environmental, social and governance risks when evaluating investment strategies. The business voice was a critical input to the federal Financial Stability Oversight Council, which is comprised of all federal financial regulatory bodies, releasing a groundbreaking report identifying the financial risks that the climate crisis poses to the US economy.

As Ceres prepares for 2022, it is a larger and more influential organization than ever with 169 staff and 55-key advisers in its Board of Directors and President’s Council that is ready to work with investors, companies and policymakers to raise ambition and build a more just and inclusive net zero economy.

About Ceres

Ceres is a nonprofit organization working with the most influential capital market leaders to solve the world’s greatest sustainability challenges. Through our powerful networks and global collaborations of investors, companies and nonprofits, we drive action and inspire equitable market-based and policy solutions throughout the economy to build a just and sustainable future. For more information, visit ceres.org and follow @CeresNews.