The bottom line for corporations and communities worldwide is they must embrace transformational changes that can stem apocalyptic temperature increases.

That was made clear in a special report released last year from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Responding to the crisis, companies with a combined market capitalisation well in excess of $1 trillion have pledged to step up their climate ambitions. This means implementing science-based targets aligned with efforts to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels: to avoid the accompanying catastrophes that will result from failure to do so. The 28 companies representing 17 sectors are answering the #OurOnlyFuture call-to-action launched earlier this year by the UN Global Compact. In an open letter signed by 25 global leaders, including María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, President of the UN General Assembly, and Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the message was that ‘if we do not urgently change course, we risk missing our chance to avoid runaway climate change, with disastrous consequences for people and all the natural systems that sustain us’.

“Climate leadership has never been more important than it is right now, and it is inspiring to see so many diverse companies and brands boldly raising their ambitions. Leading companies are already proving that 1.5°C-compliant climate targets are possible, and I encourage all businesses to seize this opportunity to position themselves at the forefront of this movement and contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals,” said Lise Kingo, CEO and Executive Director of the UN Global Compact.

The companies, which have signed up to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, are committed to meeting targets set through the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), which ‘independently assesses corporate emissions reduction targets against the latest climate science’. Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Iberdrola, Levi Strauss & Co., Novozymes, Royal DSM, SAP, Telefonica, Unilever, and Zurich Insurance, are among the first signatories. Other CEOs who follow suit will be acknowledged at the UN Global Compact’s Private Sector Forum during the UN Climate Action Summit on 23 September.

Read more about the Our Only Future initiative.