Listed companies will deplete their share of the global emissions budget for limiting temperature rise to 1.5°C by December 2026, according to the latest Net-Zero Tracker from research company MSCI. The date is two months earlier than was previously estimated in MSCI’s Q2 2022 Net-Zero Tracker.  

The planet’s corporate behemoths will likely emit 10.9 gigatonnes of direct scope 1 greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere in 2022 – up 1% from 2021, but down 4.4% from their pre-pandemic high. At this pace, listed companies will make the world 2.9°C warmer by the end of the century.

The world’s publicly listed companies continue to exceed their climate budgets. (Photo by Tim Robberts via Getty Images)

So far, only 36% of public companies have set an emissions reduction target and 46% a net-zero target. Of the organisations in the Net-Zero Tracker – a quarterly survey of the climate change progress of 9,300 public companies – only 41 have set a net-zero target approved by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). Another 577 companies have committed to set one at some point in the future.

“The MSCI Net-Zero Tracker shows that 1.5°C waits for no one and our analysis reveals that not all targets are equal,” Sylvain Vanston, executive director for climate change investment research at MSCI, said in a statement. “With major inconsistencies across all sectors and regions, investors are presented with a major challenge at a crucial point where transparency of data is critical.

“While investors need to hold companies accountable, the full burden of the net-zero transition cannot fall solely onto them. Policymakers need to set mandatory reporting of climate data that is consistent across the globe, enabling investors to then drive significant action.”