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Path to Net Zero

Catalyzing Corporate Climate Action: Canada’s Drive Toward a Net-Zero Economy

August Wichert

Lead, Environment and Climate Sustainability, UN Global Compact Network Canada

The countdown to 2030 is on. Countries around the world are racing to bring home the jobs, investment, and security brought about by a low-carbon economy, and Canada is no exception. The Canadian commitment to a net-zero future was enshrined in law in June 2021 through the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act.

Canada’s Emissions Goals

This Act lays out the country’s emissions targets of 40 to 45 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, and net-zero by 2050. Canada’s 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan describes current and future measures being put into action in order to meet these goals, including a detailed sector-by-sector road map that identifies sector-specific measures and strategies for emissions reduction.

Corporate Canada’s Role in Climate Resilience

Companies operating in Canada have an outsized role to play in Canada’s net-zero journey – and stand to reap many of the benefits of the transition to a low-carbon economy. Canada’s clean energy sector alone is predicted to see an almost 50% increase in jobs between 2020 and 2030, and companies focused on tackling climate change outperformed their peers on a global scale during the COVID-19 pandemic. Climate resilience and business resilience are intricately intertwined. This only becomes more true as countries strengthen climate laws, and as consumer demand shifts further towards climate-conscious products and services.

The Complexity of Achieving Net-Zero

Yet the pursuit of net-zero is no trivial matter. Such a fundamental shift in our way of doing business demands an unprecedented level of private sector mobilization and collaboration. Companies across Canada are facing this challenge head-on, from the trailblazers looking to share their experience and network with like-minded peers, to companies of all sizes seeking guidance and solidarity at the start of their climate journeys. Organizations like the United Nations Global Compact seek to amplify and support this action, giving business what it needs to help Canada reach its net-zero aspirations.

United Nations Global Compact: Amplifying Business Action

The UN Global Compact, initiated in 2000 by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, is the world’s leading corporate sustainability and corporate social responsibility initiative. Drawing businesses globally to champion universal principles in Human Rights, Labour, the Environment, and Anti-Corruption, the Compact has representation in over 165 countries with more than 23,000 Participants. As the Canadian Local Network, UN Global Compact Network Canada emerged to support Canadian organizations in their efforts to uphold the Ten Principles and actualize the Global Goals. By nurturing collaboration among diverse stakeholders, the Network Canada serves as a beacon, enhancing the Canadian private sector’s capacity to adopt sustainable business practices and drive the sustainable development agenda.

Focusing on Climate Change: SBTi’s Role

Climate change remains a focal point for the UN Global Compact. In collaboration with CDP, World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), UN Global Compact co-founded the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi) to guide companies on greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions, ensuring alignment with the critical 1.5°C threshold. This initiative accentuates the need for corporate action to counter the looming impacts of global warming, ensuring targets are firmly rooted in contemporary climate science.

Climate Ambition Accelerator

Canadian organizations who join the UN Global Compact Network Canada gain access to more than just a roster of peers committed to enacting positive change in the world. UN Global Compact Network Canada offers a range of environmental resources and programming. These include access to an online Academy of courses on diverse Environmental, Social, and Governance topics; and programmes like the Climate Ambition Accelerator, a six-month learning intensive designed to equip companies with the knowledge and skills they need to set science-based emissions reduction targets. Open to all Participants of the UN Global Compact, the accelerator aims to scale up credible climate action across companies of all sizes, sectors, and regions. Participants gain access to global best practices, peer-to-peer learning opportunities, on-demand training, and more.

Outside of the Climate Ambition Accelerator, Canadian network participants can participate in a range of other environmental programming, including peer learning groups, working groups, and the aforementioned Academy, which offers live or on-demand sessions covering insights and best practices from world-class leaders, changemakers, and practitioners on today’s most pressing sustainability issues. For those who want to move beyond environmental activities, too, the other UN Global Compact pillars are ready at hand with their own courses and programming.

Enagage with the World’s Foremost Initiative on Corporate Sustainability

Meeting Canada’s climate objectives demands proactive corporate involvement, ensuring businesses prosper in a transitioning low-carbon economy. Pledge your commitment to the Ten Principles and contribute to our collective journey towards a net-zero future. Discover here.

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