Jun 3, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Exclusive: Major companies unite to push climate solutions

A picture taken from an airplane of a road through the Amazon, pockmarked by smoke in the distance.

In this aerial view the red dust of the BR230 highway, known as "Transamazonica", mixes with fires at sunset in the agriculture town of Ruropolis, Para state, northen Brazil, on September 6, 2019. Photo: Johannes Myburgh/AFP via Getty Images

A group of eight large companies, including tech and entertainment heavy hitters such as Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Salesforce, Disney and Netflix, are joining environmental groups and the U.N. to devise ways to scale funding for climate solutions, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The collective will be called the Business Alliance to Scale Climate Solutions (BASCS), and will serve as a knowledge-sharing network that has the potential to accelerate companies' emissions reduction efforts.

The businesses involved have made ambitious climate commitments, and are now seeking to tap into collective knowledge to help them achieve their targets.

Details: According to Elizabeth Sturcken, who leads the Environmental Defense Fund's net zero program, the group will comprise a "virtual table around which companies will gather to scale and accelerate climate funding solutions."

  • "Companies are realizing that there is no way any one of them, even the most ambitious, or rich company can solve this problem alone, it's the same issue with any government," Sturcken told Axios.
  • She said the new alliance allows firms that might otherwise compete with one another to launch clean energy projects to collaborate before engaging in such competition.
  • In addition to EDF, the UN Environment Program (UNEP) is also involved, as is the World Wildlife Fund.

Of note: The alliance is similar in concept to the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance, which helps large-scale clean energy buyers find suitable investments.

Yes, but: The alliance is explicit about preventing companies from simply trying to offset their emissions, and firms that join need to agree to core principles that emphasize the need for absolute emissions cuts.

What they're saying: According to UNEP's Gabriel Labbate, who is the team leader of an international forest conservation effort known as REDD+, the new alliance could lend itself to nature-based solutions such as protecting carbon absorbing forests.

  • “This must be the decade of action. We need to achieve large-scale emissions reductions and there is no time to lose," Labbate said in a statement to Axios.
  • "BASCS will play a leading role, not only in halting forest loss, but also in demonstrating how nature-based solutions, through emission reductions of the highest quality, can best complement, and not substitute, strong decarbonization efforts,” he said.

Max Scher, who heads clean energy and carbon programs at Salesforce, told Axios that the alliance is unique in that it's by businesses for businesses, and aims to break down silos in which many currently operate.

  • "The the intent of this is really to shift this kind of mode from lots of different initiatives coming at a small group of companies to a lot of companies sitting down and saying, 'We have the same goal. And my goal is actually only going to be successful if you also succeed at the same goal. So we should probably do this together, we can share our resources and we can learn together, and by doing so, act better together," Scher said.

What's next: Look for more companies to join this alliance after it formally launches on Thursday.

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