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Americans in Paris: The Implications if U.S. Corporates Abandon their Carbon Reduction Targets

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Thirty high-profile companies responded to the June 1 2017 announcement that the U.S. will pull out of the Paris climate accord by affirming their public commitments to climate change mitigation efforts. While the statement demonstrated leadership, it is important to note that, in total, these 30 companies were responsible for around 6% of carbon emissions by U.S. large- and mid-cap companies as of 2015. The companies that matter are those from the utilities, energy, materials and industrial sectors, whose emissions account for more than 80% of U.S. corporate emissions. Should these companies choose to reduce or abandon their climate change commitments, what would happen to the global emissions trajectory?

The short answer: It depends on the level of commitment. Reversals by companies with short-term targets would have little effect, because they account for so little of U.S. emissions. Curtailments by the large companies that account for half of U.S. corporate emissions could have a significant impact on long-term global emissions totals.

We assessed the carbon-emission commitments set by U.S.-based constituents of the MSCI World Index by analyzing their reduction targets, classifying them as long term, short term and none at all. Companies with long-term targets are more likely to honor their commitments, which are typically associated with long-term capital expenditure plans and corporate strategy. Companies with short-term targets may be in a position to not renew them, especially in light of regulatory easing. In the aggregate, we find that around 50% of U.S. corporate emissions are associated with long term-reduction targets and only 11% with short-term targets. The remainder comes from companies with no targets.

Source : MSCI

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