Stabilize the Climate

GHG Emissions Reduction and Carbon Removal

Set and meet greenhouse gas emissions reduction to achieve at least a 50% absolute reduction throughout the value chain by 2030 and carbon removal targets that place the company on a trajectory to net-zero emissions by 2040, implementing solutions that ensure a just and equitable transition to a net-zero emissions economy.

Companies set Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3 GHG emissions reduction targets to limit global warming to 1.5 ºC.  In addition to GHG emissions reduction, companies invest in carbon removal to position themselves to achieve net-zero emissions by 2040. Specifically, companies will:

  • Set targets for Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3 GHG emissions reduction with clear and ambitious short and medium-term milestones to limit warming to 1.5 ºC and achieve at least a 50% reduction in absolute emissions by 2030
  • Prioritize setting Scope 3 GHG emissions reduction targets in areas of the value chain that have the highest GHG emissions footprint, and implement the best available systems to quantify Scope 3 GHG emissions across the value chain
  • Where Scope 3 science-based sector guidance is not available, set time-bound targets to reduce Scope 3 emissions and look to update targets, as appropriate, when guidance is available
  • Define and disclose a comprehensive GHG emissions reduction and carbon removal strategy for meeting targets on a trajectory to net zero emissions by 2040, leveraging the most updated guidance. Companies will prioritize strategies that reduce absolute emissions, invest in carbon removal and use credible carbon offsets only as an ancillary solution  
  • Consider potential solutions and technologies through the lens of impact to people and communities, implementing strategies that support a just transition
  • As relevant to the sector and company, develop a strategy for bringing products and services to market by 2025 that generate net-zero emissions

Companies regularly disclose progress against milestones, demonstrating they are on track to reduce GHG emissions. Companies evaluate GHG emissions reduction targets and carbon removal strategies as necessary to reach net-zero emissions by 2040.  Specifically, companies will:

  • Disclose trended performance against Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3 science-based GHG emissions reduction targets and progress toward achieving net zero emissions by 2040. This includes disclosing the effectiveness of individual strategies and the company’s contribution to a just and clean energy transition, transparently identifying challenges to reducing emissions and removing carbon and outlining the strategies in place to course correct as needed. 
  • Evaluate and, if necessary, redefine GHG emissions reduction targets with increased ambition when new scientific guidance is published, targets are achieved early or when significant change to the company and its footprint occurs
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of carbon removal investments, considering changes in solutions and technology advancement and adjust as necessary to stay on the trajectory of net-zero emissions by 2040.
  • Reduce dependency on credible carbon offsets by maximizing absolute GHG emissions reductions and increasing investment in carbon removal within the value chain
  • Prioritize the potential for GHG emissions reductions into business decisions related to financing and investing
  • Engage and incentivize suppliers and other business partners to set GHG emissions reduction targets aligned with the most recent science, weighing these commitments in the evaluation of current and future business 
  • Bring products and services to market that generate net-zero emissions 

Companies have met their 2030 GHG emission reduction targets that are consistent with the most recent science and are on a trajectory to net-zero emissions by 2040. Companies have identified and are implementing transformational changes to their business models to support a just and decarbonized economy. Companies continue to evaluate progress in the context of the latest science, solutions and technologies and continue to set more aggressive targets, reflecting changes to the business and its footprint. Companies expand carbon removal strategies to maintain or surpass a trajectory to net-zero by 2040 and only use credible carbon offsets as an ancillary solution to address the small portion of residual GHG emissions that cannot be avoided. Companies require business partners to set GHG emissions reduction targets aligned with the most recent science and encourage a commitment to net-zero emissions by 2040. 

Science-based Climate Policy Engagement

Climate change poses not just clear financial and even material risks to companies and industries across the economy, it is a systemic risk to markets writ large. Robust and aggressive public policy on climate change that is aligned with the latest science is needed to mitigate climate risks, enable job-creating investments in clean industries of the future and manage the necessary transition to a net-zero emissions economy by 2040. 

Companies that establish robust governance systems to assess climate risk and align their lobbying efforts to support science-based climate policy will drive the creation of a regulatory environment that best positions them for resilient growth. Companies will need to:

1. Assess the impact of climate risk to the company, including risks inherent to lobbying activities 

2. Govern to systematize decision-making on climate lobbying 

3. Act to align both direct and indirect lobbying with science-based climate policy 

To align policy action with climate-related corporate commitments, companies and their trade associations should advocate for science-based climate policies that will enable the achievement of net-zero emissions by 2040 and do so equitably. Corporate and investor collaboration, through coalitions such as We Mean Business and Ceres’ BICEP Network, support companies in their communication with lawmakers on the economic benefits of clear and comprehensive climate change policy, focused on: (1) resilient, just, zero-carbon economies, (2) zero-carbon transport (3) zero-carbon power (4) zero-carbon built environment, (5) zero-carbon industry and (6) food and land. 

Companies prioritize the consideration of social impacts of policies they support, understanding that people and equity must be protected to ensure public support for the climate solution. 

Getting Started

This section of the Ceres Roadmap 2030 identifies the foundational steps companies can take to begin implementing the actions needed to stabilize the climate.

✓ Engage Role Players

To capture the full breadth and depth of risks and opportunities in stabilizing the climate, companies should consider the role of various business units across the value chain and regularly engage with business unit leaders to analyze the intersection between climate risks and opportunities and their processes.  Upstream, climate-related opportunities may take the form of sourcing decisions or the redesign of a product to reduce GHG emissions or deforestation.  Downstream, these opportunities may take the form of changing how products and services are delivered or even consumer and customer marketing.  Engaging business unit leaders will uncover better solutions and make the process of establishing workforce accountability easier.  Concurrently, business unit leaders and senior management need to establish fluid lines of communication and disseminate key risks and opportunities into clear messaging that will engage board members. Complementary board oversight and accountability from the top down will support the integration of sustainability priorities across the business, informing strategic and annual planning and ensuring the proper allocation of resources for achieving stated goals. 

✓ Connect the Dots 

To take meaningful action in stabilizing the climate, companies must first accept that climate risk is a financial risk in both the short-term and long-term. To properly address climate risk, companies should analyze and measure the extent in which the company’s activities produce greenhouse gas emissions, across all scopes. There may be aspects of the company’s GHG footprint that are difficult to quantify. It is important to identify gaps in measurement and set the goal of increasing accuracy and completeness over time. Where appropriate, companies can temporarily use informed estimates to fill gaps until better measurement processes are created.

✓ Establish Policies

Once the challenge is defined, companies should establish enterprise-wide policies that support the intention to phase out activities that negatively impact the climate, including production of GHG emissions and deforestation.  Based on the company's business model and structure, the depth and complexity of these policies will vary; however, the policies should first be implemented in areas of the value chain that have the largest absolute impact.  These policies should be revised and strengthened on a regular basis as more information is gathered. Strong climate-related policies will help guide and inform corporate decision-making.  It is critical that companies analyze the interconnectedness, potential consequences and tradeoffs of policies to  minimize the risk of any adverse impacts to people, communities and resources elsewhere. 

✓ Build a Management System Designed for Evolution

Once policies and procedures are designed to address climate-related risks and opportunities, performance must be measured as part of a comprehensive management system to ensure that processes are driving towards intended outcomes and that management has the data available to make informed decisions.  Companies should develop processes and tools as part of their management systems to monitor the performance and effectiveness of business units as well as develop sector-relevant key performance indicators to enable alignment between commitments, operations, relationships and investments.  As part of a complete management system, companies should create processes to address non-compliance and make efforts to address the root causes of the issues identified.

✓ Perform Scenario Analysis

To determine where climate-related impact is the greatest, companies should perform a climate scenario analysis and assess risk across their value chains to identify where and under what conditions the company is most exposed to physical and transition climate risks. The climate scenario analysis should extend across multiple time horizons out to 2050 and cover multiple temperature rise scenarios, including but not limited to: business as usual, 2 ºC, and 1.5 ºC. Companies should also be cognizant of the different pathways leading to a given temperature increase. A 2 ºC scenario in particular could be the result of a smooth or disruptive transition, which may present different sets of risks and opportunities. To provide stakeholders with decision-useful information, scenarios should be based on reputable inputs and models, with additional customization where necessary. Methodology details and assumptions should be publicly disclosed.

Disclosing Progress

Disclosure establishes accountability, provides a foundation for engagement and serves as a platform for demonstrating priorities, process and progress. See the Transparency and Disclosure section of Ceres Roadmap 2030 on how to make all of your disclosures complete, credible and decision-useful.

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards and the Sustainable Accounting Standards Board (SASB) are two disclosure tools widely recognized as standards for guiding comparable sustainability disclosure. Disclosure related to corporate efforts to stabilize the climate should also be guided by three additional disclosure resources that help to strengthen corporate disclosure and meet the expectations of stakeholders, in particular investors: the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), the CDP Climate Change Questionnaire (CDP-CC) and the CDP Forests Questionnaire (CDP-F).

The TCFD is emerging as the de-facto framework for guiding climate-related disclosure and is widely supported by the investment community. The TCFD recommendations require disclosure across four key areas: Governance, Strategy, Risk Management and Metric and Targets. Investor preference for the TCFD framework is guided by the insights provided into how climate-related risk and opportunities are integrated and managed across the business and how companies are planning for the future.  Companies can also benefit from the process involved with aligning disclosures to the TCFD recommendations (e.g. the lessons learned from conducting a scenario analysis and comprehensively disclosing company wide climate-related impacts). 

Many companies are improving their TCFD disclosures by engaging investors and stakeholders as part of the process. The strongest TCFD disclosures will also have the complete support and buy-in of the board and C-suite executives and other key parts of the organization, such as Investor Relations, Finance and Risk Management.  There is no prescribed frequency for how often a TCFD disclosure should be updated. However, companies should consider the impact of significant business decisions, global events and availability of data as triggers for making updates and enhancements.

Companies and investors recognize CDP disclosures for their comprehensiveness and detailed information. More than 8,000 companies disclose to CDP, while over 500 investors with assets totaling more than $100 trillion request data from CDP.  Both the CDP Climate Change Questionnaire and Forest Questionnaire come in two versions: a minimum version and a full version that includes sector-specific questions.  Either version can be used to calculate a company’s CDP score. The questionnaires allow companies to provide structured details pertaining to how they are addressing and managing climate change and forest impacts.  The questionnaire and scoring process is performed annually, giving stakeholders the opportunity to monitor climate change and forest commitment progress on a regular basis.

The CDP-CC recently mapped specific sections of the questionnaire to the TCFD recommendations and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This makes reporting across multiple frameworks easier, while also creating space for companies to provide more granular details with respect to projects, initiatives, goals and metrics across GHG emissions scopes and the company’s value chain.  

The CDP-F recently mapped specific sections of the questionnaire to the Accountability Framework (a supply chain framework focused on land use and rights issues) and the SDGs, again helping users understand how information disclosed through CDP can be mapped to other standards. 

Since few companies are able to disclose quantitative progress towards eliminating deforestation, it is difficult for investors to understand, analyze and mitigate risk across their portfolios.  Companies should make every effort to disclose the following metrics:

  • Percent of a commodity that is traceable - Percentage of a sourced commodity that a company can trace to the product’s origin or to a point at which the company can assure compliance with its policies
  • Percent of suppliers in compliance - Percentage of their total suppliers that comply with their no-deforestation policies. They should also update these numbers to reflect recent suspensions due to non-compliance
  • Percent of commodity in compliance - How much of the total supply of a commodity is in compliance with company policies and standards. This is particularly important when a company sources most of a commodity from just a few suppliers

Additional Disclosure Resources

Ceres: Disclose What Matters - Analyzes the sustainability disclosures of the world's largest companies and can help companies bridge the gap and provide executable, relevant information to investors.

TCFD Good Practice Handbook - Identifies good practices in implementing the TCFD recommendations. The examples are drawn from across the G20 to cover multiple jurisdictions and a diversity of practices in making the 11 TCFD recommended disclosures across the four core elements of governance, strategy, risk management, and metrics and targets. 

TCFD Knowledge Hub - Provides resources needed to understand and implement the TCFD recommendations.

WBCSD’s TCFD Preparer Forum - The TCFD Preparer Forums bring leading companies together to discuss disclosure practices and the work needed to enhance disclosure effectiveness and implement the TCFD recommendations. In the Forums, members will identify examples of good practice, develop disclosure roadmaps and seek investor perspectives on TCFD disclosures, including how market participants use the information.


With respect to GHG emissions reduction and carbon removal there are many programs, resources and materials available to help guide companies. Below is a list of some key resources:

Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) - The SBTi defines and promotes best practice in science-based target (SBT) setting, provides resources, case studies and guidance to reduce barriers to adoption of SBTs and independently assesses and approves companies’ targets. The SBTi is a collaboration between CDP, the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and is one of the We Mean Business Coalition commitments.

IPCC Special Report - Global Warming of 1.5C - An IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty.

We Are Still In - We Are Still In is a coalition made up of more than 3,800 investors, companies, mayors, governors, college presidents and other leaders committed to action on climate change.

Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition (CLPC) - The CPLC is a voluntary initiative that catalyzes action towards the successful implementation of carbon pricing around the world. The CPLC brings together leaders from government, business, civil society and academia to support carbon pricing, share experiences and enhance the global, regional, national and sub-national understanding of carbon pricing implementation. The CPLC Secretariat is administered by The World Bank Group.

EPA Center for Corporate Climate Leadership - The Center  serves as a resource center for all organizations looking to expand their work in the area of greenhouse gas (GHG) measurement and management.

LEAD on Climate - Annual call to action from the business community to members of the U.S. Congress to call for a strategy that recognizes the need for a resilient, clean energy economy.

Mission Possible Platform - A coalition of businesses and expert organizations (and governments) committed to reducing heavy industry greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by creating and delivering technology, policy and financing solutions.
Transition Pathway Initiative - A global, asset-owner led initiative that assesses companies' preparedness for the transition to a low carbon economy.

2 Degrees Investing Initiative - The leading global think tank on sustainable finance who develop regulatory frameworks, data, and tools to help align financial markets with climate goals.

Going “All In” - A high-level guide on climate policy for key stakeholders who want to drive change--from CEOs to board directors to concerned employees

Companies in Action

JLL sets goal to achieve net-zero carbon emissions across all JLL-occupied buildings by 2030. Building on its ambitious science-based target covering Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions, the real estate services company JLL has become a signatory to the World Green Buildings Council’s Net Zero Carbon Building (NZCB) Commitment. Following the framework of the commitment, JLL will work to decarbonize its global office network of 460 buildings through investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy procurement. Where emissions reductions are not possible, the company will invest in carbon offsets. However, recognizing the need to minimize reliance on carbon offsets to achieve GHG reduction goals, JLL is taking steps to reduce emissions in other parts of its business to help achieve its NZCB commitment, such as through driving up take of renewable energy. To broaden its impact, JLL will also prioritize energy efficiency throughout its portfolio, educate its clients about net-zero carbon commitments and promote action to reduce emissions throughout the real estate industry. The company estimates that these actions will help them eliminate 27,761 tonnes of CO2e across its portfolio. 

Best Buy signs The Climate Pledge, committing to being carbon neutral across its business by 2040. As the need to address climate change becomes increasingly urgent, companies are being pushed by their peers to take bold steps to reduce carbon emissions. One high-profile example is The Climate Pledge, an initiative cofounded by Amazon and Global Optimism to push businesses from across sectors to become carbon neutral by 2040. As a signatory, Best Buy is committed to regularly measuring and disclosing its greenhouse gas emissions, pursuing decarbonization strategies in line with the Paris Agreement and using carbon offsets to close the gap between any remaining emissions originating from its operations. This commitment builds on Best Buy’s existing sustainability strategy, which helped it successfully reduce the company’s environmental impact by 55% since 2009. Best Buy identifies energy efficiency improvements, investments in renewable energy and increasing sustainable product options for customers as strategies that will be key to helping the company achieve carbon neutrality by 2040. Best Buy has already invested in renewables through the creation of the Best Buy Solar Field, which generates the electricity for the equivalent of 260 Best Buy stores each year. 

Microsoft launches aggressive plan to remove all carbon emissions since its founding and become carbon negative by 2030. The climate crisis is motivating companies to develop sophisticated approaches for curbing their emissions, including investing in new solutions and rallying their partners to follow suit. Microsoft has committed to be carbon negative by 2030 and to remove its historical emissions--since its founding in 1975--by 2050. The company commits to abate its Scope 1 and 2 emissions by pursuing a number of tactics, including transitioning 100% of its energy use to renewables by 2025 and achieving full electrification of its fleet by 2030. Going beyond its operations to support and incentivize suppliers, Microsoft will cut out more than half of its Scope 3 emissions by 2030 by establishing new procurement processes and expanding the company’s internal carbon price to cover Scope 3 emissions. A key part of this strategy is the launch of a $1B Climate Innovation Fund, which will be used to spur the growth of carbon reduction and capture technologies over the next four years. In addition to its ambitious emissions reduction strategy, Microsoft has set a number of leading corporate sustainability goals, most notably a commitment to address the challenges facing the world’s freshwater supply by achieving net positive water usage in the company’s operations by 2030. 

Morgan Stanley becomes the first U.S. bank to commit to net-zero financed emissions. As business practices vary widely by sector, so do the implications for climate risk and action. While many companies’ sustainability goals focus on reducing emissions from their direct operations, leading banks are focused on tackling emissions originating from their portfolio--which is where the largest part of their climate impact lies. Morgan Stanley took a bold step as the first U.S. bank to commit to achieving net-zero financed emissions, which covers Scope 3 emissions originating from its portfolio, by 2050. This announcement was paired with a commitment by the bank to take a leadership role in developing the tools and methods needed to comprehensively measure financed emissions. Through collaboration with the Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials (PCAF), Morgan Stanley will work to develop a standardized carbon accounting standard to be used across the financial sector. Once developed, the company has committed to set more specific climate targets using the methodologies established through PCAF. 

Cisco makes strides to address supplier GHG emissions. At Cisco, as for most technology companies, GHG emissions from the supply chain far outweigh those coming from direct operations. In its 2019 CSR report, the technology conglomerate reported having exceeded its goal of avoiding 1 million metric tonnes of GHG emissions in its supply chain from a 2012 baseline. Propelled by this success, Cisco is taking things further. It has committed to reducing supply chain-related Scope 3 GHG emissions by 30% in absolute terms by 2030 from a 2019 baseline and having 80% of Cisco’s top suppliers (by spend) set an absolute GHG emissions reduction target by 2025. To achieve this, the company plans to further supplier engagement, reduce use of air transportation, collaborate with peers in the electronics industry to increase access to renewable energy and reduce energy consumption. Over the past decade, the company, in collaboration with industry peers, has gained deeper visibility into supplier emissions and continues to rally partners to use the CDP supply chain questionnaire to manage and report relevant data. Cisco also reported in 2019 that 24% of its suppliers are publicly reporting an absolute GHG reduction target. 

Walmart announces plan to produce zero carbon emissions throughout its operations by 2040. In 2020, Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, enhanced its sustainability goals with a commitment to achieve zero carbon emissions across the company’s direct operations by 2040. Without using carbon offsets, Walmart intends to reach its goal through procuring 100% of the power needed to run its facilities from renewable sources, eliminating emissions from its vehicles through fleet electrification and transitioning to the use of low impact refrigerants for cooling its stores, clubs and data and distribution centers. Walmart's announcement also includes a robust commitment to invest in land and ocean preservation to address growing nature loss. Key strategies the company will pursue include driving the adoption of regenerative agriculture practices and investing in the preservation of at least one acre of natural habitat for every acre of land developed by Walmart inside of the U.S..