The Race to Net-Zero

Rising sea levels, melting polar ice caps, and extreme weather events are terrifying manifestations of climate change. Governments and businesses worldwide are accelerating their move to a net-zero emissions future, but scientists warn they must work harder and faster.

The Race to Net-Zero


Global warming will be firmly in the spotlight as government officials from around the world gather in Glasgow for the United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) between 31 October to 12 November.


A report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in August suggested that unless greenhouse gas emissions are significantly reduced in the coming decades, limiting warming to close to 1.5°C, or even 2°C above pre-industrial levels would be beyond reach.


UN Secretary General António Guterres describes the report as a “code red for humanity” and says the Paris promises will turn to dust unless urgent action is taken soon.


Those dire warnings place a responsibility on both governments and businesses to take bold steps and formulate clear strategies to speed up the transition to a net-zero emissions future and raise questions over whether they are acting quickly enough.


Accelerating energy transition

Power generation is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions, which means that a particular responsibility for addressing climate change falls upon electricity companies.


As a major investor in power assets across the Asia-Pacific region, CLP Holdings Limited (CLP) took an early lead to set carbon intensity reduction targets with its Climate Vision 2050 in 2007.


The Group regularly reviews and strengthens its Climate Vision 2050 targets based on factors including the latest climate science, technology trends, and regulatory changes, as well as the risks and opportunities for the energy business.

CLP creates a roadmap to a net-zero future with its updated Climate Vision 2050.


After its last review in 2021, the Group pledged to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across its value chain by 2050.


“Climate change is here, and we must accelerate our actions now,” says CLP Chief Executive Officer Richard Lancaster.


It also set new science-based interim targets for 2030 to align with the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, while also strengthening its interim targets for 2040 for the same ambition. To support its efforts in meeting these targets, CLP also commits to phasing out coal-based assets by 2040, a decade earlier than pledged previously. 


CLP's past and projected greenhouse gas emissions intensity
CLP has set interim emissions reduction targets for 2030 and 2040, putting it on track to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

Setting global standards

Global businesses are stepping up efforts to drive down emissions with the support of organisations including the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi), which helps companies set credible emissions reduction goals.


Setting up in 2015, SBTi is a partnership between climate-disclosure non-profit charity CDP, the United Nations Global Compact, and other not-for-profit organisations to drive ambitious climate action in the private sector.


It defines best practices in setting science-based targets for greenhouse gas reductions, offers resources and guidance, as well as independently assessing and validating those targets for businesses.


SBTi last year released initial recommendations and guiding principles for corporate net-zero target-setting. It plans to unveil a set of net-zero standards on 28 October for companies to set both near-term and long-term science-based targets.


From airlines, financial institutions to technology companies and makers of consumer products, companies voluntarily work with the SBTi to form an emissions-reduction plan for their industry. More than 1,000 businesses with a combined market capitalisation of over US$15 trillion are currently working with the SBTi to reduce their emissions. 


“The new 2030 science-based targets set by CLP are a testimony that we are aligned with international standards and industry best practice,” says CLP Director - Group Sustainability Hendrik Rosenthal.

CLP's key targets and commitments
CLP is committed to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across its value chain by 2050.


Where less means more

The urgent need for action to limit emissions and rise to the challenge of global warming does not mean limiting the growth potential of an energy business, Lancaster is keen to stress.


“Transitioning to a net-zero energy sector is a challenging task but also brings about many opportunities,” he says.


As CLP progressively phases out coal, he anticipates other investment opportunities in non-carbon emitting sources of energy, as well as energy and infrastructure services to rise.


The Group is committed to exploring the use of new energy technologies such as green hydrogen, energy storage solutions and wider deployment of renewable energy as an alternative to natural gas in the long term as it helps lead the way to a net-zero future.


“We recognise the need to further raise our ambition and limit global warming to 1.5°C,” as affirmed by Lancaster. “We remain committed to reviewing our Climate Vision 2050 targets at least every five years, which will allow us to take advantage of further opportunities to strengthen our targets as circumstances allow.”


CLP's Climate Vision 2050
                                                      CLP’s Climate Vision 2050 sets out the blueprint of the Group’s transition to net-zero.