Momentum Building Among Fortune 500 Around Climate Action, but Not at Scale Required

Jun 3, 2021 5:45 PM ET

June 3, 2021 /3BL Media/ - Sixty percent of Fortune 500 companies have set a climate or energy-related goal, yet they vary dramatically in terms of ambition and are not happening at the speed or scale needed to align with what the science requires, according to a new World Wildlife Fund (WWF) report. “More and more companies are setting voluntary climate goals and increasing their climate ambition, however it’s still not enough to stave off the worst impacts of climate change,” said Marcene Mitchell, WWF’s senior vice president for climate change.

Power Forward 4.0 analyzes climate and energy commitments among the largest US companies, assessing how different sectors compare in setting targets, finding that climate and energy related commitments among the largest US companies have risen by 12% since 2017. Although growth has occurred across the Fortune 500, the largest companies continue to lead the way, with 76% of the Fortune 100 now having at least one commitment—up 13%.

The report also documents the growing trend among companies setting net-zero, carbon-neutral and related commitments. But the report also warns that the lack of standards and inconsistency in ambition and robustness (scope and timeframe) of those targets makes it difficult to assess their impact.

Additional key findings include:

  • Companies with Science-Based Targets (SBTs) have increased more than sixfold (from 10 to 63) since 2017. Even with this progress, only one in five Fortune 500 companies has set or formally committed to set a SBT through the Science Based Targets initiative.
  • Nearly one in five (91) Fortune 500 companies have a climate goal that covers indirect emissions across their value chain (scope 3 emissions).
  • The financial services, fossil fuel and retail sectors lag behind other sectors, with less than 50% of companies in these sectors having set a climate commitment, and few of those setting their targets in line with science.
  • Nearly one-third (30%) of companies with greenhouse gas targets have also set dedicated renewable energy targets, and the number of 100% renewable commitments has doubled to 58 since 2017. These targets are the engine that drove US companies to nearly quadruple their renewable electricity contracts in that same timeframe.

“The new US goal to reduce emissions by 50 to 52% by 2030 is a step in the right direction and businesses will certainly be essential in helping the US meet it, but this report clearly shows that strong federal, state and local policy is needed to complement the voluntary actions these leading companies are taking on,” said Mitchell.

Notes To Editors:

This report analyzes the 2020 Fortune 500 companies.

Since 2012, The Power Forward report series has been analyzing climate and energy commitments among the largest US companies. For previous reports, please see:

Media Contact: Evan Carlson