London — A group of 285 companies Wednesday committed to science-based emissions reduction targets, as representatives from almost 200 countries gather in Madrid for the annual United Nations COP25 climate talks.
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The move will drive an estimated $18 billion in climate change mitigation and 90 TWh of annual renewable electricity generation, according to the group, called the "Science Based Targets Initiative."
"Releasing its first ever progress report, the SBTi quantifies these commitments as saving more than the combined annual emissions of France and Spain, or 68 coal-fired power plants," the group said in a statement.
The commitments by the 285 companies will produce enough additional renewable electricity to power 11 million US households for a year, and reduce emissions by 265 million mt CO2 equivalent, it said.
"Science-based targets provide companies with a clearly defined pathway to future-proof growth by specifying how much and how quickly they need to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions," it said.
The list includes major energy producers, transportation companies and others from a wide swathe of industries from chemicals companies and food and beverage producers to telecoms, construction and retail.
In the European energy sector, the list includes Spain-based Acciona, Iberdrola and Red Electrica de Espana, Dutch firm Eneco, Italy's Enel, Portugal's Energias de Portugal, Orsted in Denmark, Sweden's Vattenfall and Austria'sVerbund.
The group includes transport and logistics companies including Canadian National Railway Company, France's La Poste and Belgium's Thalys.
The group also includes household names from the industrial and consumer goods sectors including BT, Coca-Cola,Deutsche Telekom, Hewlett Packard, McDonalds, Microsoft, Nestle, Nike, Sumitomo Chemicals, Thyssenkrupp and Unilever.
The broad aim of the group is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris Agreement's goal to limit global temperature increase to a maximum of 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2100.
A sub-set of the full list includes 76 companies which have specifically committed to cut emissions in line with a tougher target of 1.5 C.
As of October 31, a total of 686 companies had publicly joined the initiative, and of those, 285 have had theirtargets officially approved, the group said.
"Notably, the pace at which companies join the initiative has doubled over the past 18 months," it said.
"Financial markets, driven by a growing awareness of the enormous financial risks associated with climate change, are using SBTs to guide investment and lending decisions," it said.
"Regulators faced with the task of decarbonizing the economy are both encouraging and responding to the ambition companies are demonstrating by setting SBTs," the group said.
-- Frank Watson, firstname.lastname@example.org
-- Edited by Jonathan Dart, email@example.com