Plan B – Net-Zero Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2050


Geneva, 5th February, 2015 – Leaders of The B Team running some of the world’s largest companies, have called upon world leaders to commit to a global goal of net-zero greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions by 2050 – and urged business leaders to match this ambition by committing to bold long-term targets.

The B Team’s ambition builds on recent talks at the COP20 climate summit in Lima, and is grounded on an assessment of the latest scientific research, business risks and the economic costs of failing to keep within the 2°C threshold.

Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever

Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever and B Team Leader

“A target of net-zero emissions by 2050 is not only desirable but necessary. This is the time to redouble our efforts and further accelerate progress to decarbonize our economy. This is not going to be easy, but the earlier we act, the greater the economic opportunities will be,” said Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever and B Team Leader.

Government leaders are set to hold climate talks at COP21 in Paris this December to negotiate a global agreement, with advance negotiations beginning in Geneva next week. The December meeting will be a defining point in human history, with high hopes of an ambitious agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol and limit mean temperature increases to 2°C.

The B Team Leaders believe that by committing to net-zero greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions by 2050, governments will demonstrate they are unequivocally setting the world on a clear, low-carbon trajectory. Businesses will respond by embedding bold climate action into their strategies – unleashing innovation, driving investment in clean energy, scaling-up low carbons solutions, creating jobs and supporting economic growth.

Plan B is an evolving blueprint for business that prioritizes people, planet and profit. The Challenges below get right to the heart of the issues that cause companies to remain rooted in Plan A – business as usual. They are our initial framework for Plan B, which we will continue to develop with help from like-minded leaders around the globe.

The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment concluded that achieving net-zero GHG emissions by 2100 will provide only a 66% chance of limiting global warming to 2°C. The B Team view a 1-in-3 chance of failure as an unreasonable risk scenario carrying significant cost implications, strengthening the business case for achieving net-zero GHG emissions by 2050.


Sir Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Group and Co-Chair of The B Team

Sir Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Group and Co-Chair of The B Team said “Taking bold action on climate change simply makes good business sense. It’s also the right thing to do for people and the planet. Setting a net-zero GHG emissions target by 2050 will drive innovation, grow jobs, build prosperity and secure a better world for what will soon be 9 billion people. Why would we wait any longer to do that? It’s time for all of us to join forces and drive the transition to a thriving net-zero GHG emissions economy by 2050.”

The B Team Leaders are calling for action in the following areas to achieve this:

  1. For governments to commit to a global goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and to embed this in the agreement to be signed at COP21 in Paris.
  2. For businesses to match this ambition by committing to long-term targets and driving low-carbon solutions to scale – thereby enabling the world to achieve the net-zero 2050 target.
  3. For both businesses and governments to adopt meaningful and effective carbon pricing.
  4. For governments to end all fossil fuel subsidies, and to shift this capital to help scale affordable renewable energy solutions to enable a wider economic transformation.
  5. For both businesses and governments to ensure the benefits of responses to climate change flow to vulnerable and impoverished communities that suffer disproportionately from climate change and are least equipped to cope with its impacts.

Businesses are already incurring the costs of climate change, with increasing supply-chain disruptions from extreme-weather events, rising sea levels and ocean acidification, falling crop yields and increasing desertification. At the same time, the world’s poorest and most vulnerable – who are disproportionately affected and least equipped to cope – are being hit the hardest.

As business leaders, they view the transition to a net-zero GHG emissions economy as an historic opportunity that, if managed responsibly, fairly and collaboratively, can bring economic benefits to countries at all levels of income, including new jobs, cleaner air, better health, lower poverty and greater energy security.

Peter Bakker, President, World Business Council for Sustainable Development

Peter Bakker, President, World Business Council for Sustainable Development

This will require businesses to join forces with governments to help drive the transition, by setting clear national targets and developing enabling policies to shift capital toward carbon-free alternatives, to help drive sustainable, inclusive prosperity for all.

“Innovative businesses are increasingly aware that bold climate action represents superior returns. Both We Mean Business and New Climate Economy Reports prove the point. Now it’s time for more businesses to sign-up to science-based targets, reduce their climate risk exposure and capture this historic opportunity for people and our planet.” said Peter Bakker, President, World Business Council for Sustainable Development and a past speaker at GLOBE 2014.

This statement is signed by the following B Team Leaders:

Sir Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington, Dr. Mo Ibrahim, Guilherme Leal, Strive Masiyiwa, Blake Mycoskie, François-Henri Pinault, Paul Polman, Ratan Tata, Zhang Yue, Professor Muhammad Yunus and Jochen Zeitz alongside Mary Robinson and Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland as Honorary Leaders of The B Team.

The B Team also sent an open letter to UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres asking her to push negotiators towards a net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions goal by 2050.


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