An open letter, released on Tuesday, marks a rare public stance from powerhouse companies including Apple, General Electric, Facebook, Google, Lyft, Microsoft, National Grid, Starbucks, Unilever and Verizon. The business signatories represent a total of more than $3 trillion in annual revenue and employ nearly 6 million American workers.
“To restore the standing of the US as a global leader, we need to address the climate crisis at the pace and scale it demands,” the letter reads.
“Millions of Americans are already feeling the impacts of climate change. From recent extreme weather to deadly wildfires and record-breaking hurricanes, the human and economic losses of the past 12 months alone are profound. Tragically, these devastating climate impacts also disproportionately hit marginalized and low-income communities who are least able to withstand them. We must act now to slow and turn the tide.”
The appeal, coordinated by the We Mean Business coalition and non-profit Ceres, came from 310 businesses and investors. It echoes earlier calls from environmentalists and scientists to President Biden, urging him to take bold action on US emissions.
The Biden administration has said that it will announce a more ambitious emissions-reduction target, known as a “Nationally Determined Contribution” (NDC), around the White House’s virtual climate summit which kicks off on Earth Day, April 22.
The NDC is each nation’s short-term pledge on cutting emissions and a required part of the Paris Agreement.
Climate scientists warn that global heating needs to be kept well below 2 degrees Celsius (C) above pre-industrial levels, with an aim for an increasingly ambitious 1.5C goal, to avoid the worst of climate breakdown.
The current global trajectory has the planet heading for more than 3C of global heating by the end of the century.
Last month, the US was urged to slash emissions between 57-63 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030, in order to stay in line with the target of net-zero emissions no later than 2050, according to analysis by Climate Action Tracker.
This would be a significant jump on previous goals. Barack Obama committed to reducing emissions 26-28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2025, when 200 nations signed the Paris Agreement in 2015.
President Biden hopes a renewed US commitment, following four years of inertia by the Trump administration, will be enough to convince other major emitters to up the ante.