The World Economic Forum (WEF) has just announced more than 50 companies now comprise its First Movers Coalition, launched by President Biden at COP26 to decarbonise heavy industry.
The corporates involved represent some serious clout; their market cap is about $8.5 trillion across five continents. WEF says they have sent the largest market signal in history to commercialise emerging clean technologies.
They are, it says, making unprecedented advance purchase commitments by 2030 for near-zero carbon, steel, aluminium, shipping, trucking and aviation, as well as advanced carbon dioxide removal solutions.
It all sounds excellent for both greener practice, Net Zero and for carbon emissions. But business coalitions, partnerships and growth groups are hardly new. Is there anything here to suggest radical agendas that might impact powerfully on profit and climate?
Global technology giants Alphabet and Microsoft, along with AES, Aveva, Ball Corporation, BHP, Consolidated Contractors Company, Ecolab, Enel, EY, FedEx, Ford Motor Company, HeidelbergCement, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, National Grid, Novelis, PWC, Schneider Electric, Swiss Re and Vestas are all new members.
It’s a long list, but worth repeating as by any estimation these are some massive businesses. With this expansion, coalition membership collective market value exceeds ten per cent of the total Fortune Global 2000.
Further, in addition to the US government, the coalition welcomes India, Japan and Sweden to the Steering Board, as well as Denmark, Italy, Norway, Singapore and the United Kingdom as government partners. These will invite more companies from their countries to join the coalition and will pursue public policies to commercialise the green technologies that corporate members commit to purchasing.
Evidently, partnership between business and government will be key to success, but the coalition is also launching two new sectors: carbon dioxide removal and aluminium, which join the four existing sectoral pledges on aviation, shipping, steel and trucking launched at COP26.
On carbon dioxide removal, Alphabet, Microsoft and Salesforce have collectively committed $500 million. Microsoft will serve as an expert partner by sharing lessons from its carbon removal auctions.
Boston Consulting Group commits to removing 100,000 tonnes of carbon, while three additional companies have each committed to 50,000 tonnes or $25 million of carbon removal: AES, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines and Swiss Re.
The pledges mean members must deliver on their commitments by 2030 and demonstrate that the carbon can be stored for more than 1000 years.
No matter your feelings on storage versus avoiding using carbon upfront, removal, says WEF, is the process of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and locking it away. It cites the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report that says limiting global temperature rise to 1.5⁰C will now be impossible without carbon removal solutions.
Ball Corporation, Ford Motor Company, Novelis, Trafigura and Volvo Group become founding members of the coalition’s new aluminium sector, committing to have near-zero carbon emissions from ten per cent of their primary aluminium purchases by 2030.
US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry said: “The purchasing commitments made by the First Movers Coalition represent the highest-leverage climate action that companies can take – because creating the early markets to scale advanced technologies materially reduces the whole world’s emissions – not just any company’s own footprint.
“With today’s expansion, the coalition has achieved scale across the world’s leading companies and support from committed governments around the world to tackle the hardest challenge of the climate crisis: reducing the emissions from the sectors where we don’t yet have the toolkit to replace unabated fossil fuels and swiftly reach Net Zero emissions.”