Despite net-zero claims and other climate pledges, major polluting companies are not on track to meet the goal of keeping global warming to under 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050, according to a new report from Moody’s Corp.
The current emission reduction plans of the large carbon emitting companies that the rating agency has reviewed are aligned with a global temperature increase of at least 2.6C by 2100.
Moody’s also found that almost half (157) of the 335 companies that it reviewed — using its proprietary methodology for assessing transition preparedness — face significant climate-related transition risks, as they are not well positioned for a “rapid transition” scenario.
“The oil and gas sector as a whole is the least prepared, and the airline industry faces significant challenges,” said the report (which included contributions from Moody’s ESG Solutions, Moody’s Investors Service and Moody’s Analytics).
Specifically, the report found that just 8% of companies in the oil and gas sector have set targets that include their so-called “Scope 3” emissions, which represents the broadest measure of carbon emissions.
“Even among those companies that have set quantifiable targets, the average associated temperature increase is 2C,” the report said. “However, because these companies represent a small minority, overall conclusions are largely driven by the business-as-usual behavior of the rest of the market.”
Along with the energy sector, the airline sector is one of the worst positioned to face a world of declining fossil-fuel usage, the report said.
“The development of low or zero-emission engines for large-capacity aircraft are at an embryonic stage of development, while refining capacity to produce enough sustainable aviation fuel to match the global industry’s annual fuel consumption remains years away,” it said.
On the upside, the report also highlighted the economic opportunity presented by the transition to a sustainable low-carbon economy.
It said that transition “could amount to nearly a 25% cumulative gain in GDP over the next two decades alone compared with a scenario in which the world fails to act — the equivalent of adding the current Italian or Canadian economy to the global economy each year over this period, creating a US$45 trillion investment opportunity.”
At the same time, it noted that progress in the auto manufacturing and power generation sectors “demonstrates that companies can adapt to rapid change.”
Automakers are planning a shift away from traditional combustion engine vehicles, it said, noting that 18 out of the 19 global auto companies were ranked as “having advanced or strong positioning for a rapid carbon transition.”
Tougher regulation is also pushing power companies away from coal and toward greater reliance on renewable assets.