Sept. 22 (UPI) -- Nearly 90 major companies committed Sunday to curb greenhouse gas emissions in order to avert the worst impacts of climate change.
We Mean Business, a coalition of nonprofit business advisory groups, announced that 87 companies such as Orange Group, IKEA, Nokia and Nestle vowed to do their part to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, one of the major goals 195 countries agreed to in the 2015 Paris Agreement.
The companies also agreed to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
The initiative was launched in June with a call-to-action issued by United Nations, civil society and businesses leaders warning corporations that "if we do not urgently change course, we risk missing our chance to avoid runaway climate change with disastrous consequences."
The first 28 companies to commit to the goals were announced a month later and that number has since tripled, We Mean Business said, adding that the companies have a combined market capitalization of over $2.3 trillion and produce emissions equivalent to 73 coal-fired power plants annually.
The agreement comes as the U.N. hosts its landmark Climate Action Summit in New York this week.
"It is encouraging to see many first-movers in the private sector align with civil society and ambitious Governments by stepping up in support of a 1.5 degree Celsius future," U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement. "Now we need many more companies to join the movement, sending a clear signal that markets are shifting."
He said he has challenged nations to come to the summit prepared to commit to long-term net-zero targets for greenhouse gas emissions and that this move by the private sector shows companies are leading the way to create an "ambition loop" with governments and the private sector reinforcing their goals to tackle climate change.
Through the commitment, the companies have agreed to set targets determined by the Science Based Targets initiative, which assesses corporate emission reduction targets based on scientist recommendations for the companies to meet the Paris Agreement.
"Warming beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius is a calamity we simply must not risk," said SBTi Board Member and President Andrew Steer. "Science-based targets provide a blueprint for companies to make a clear contribution to meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement, but we need all hands on deck. There is not a minute to lose."