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LONDON (Reuters) – Executives told a Reuters Next conference on Monday that businesses need to listen to scientists and match their efforts to meet net zero goals with a global agreement to tackle climate change.

Under the Paris Agreement of 2015, countries agreed to take measures to restrict global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius relative to pre-industrial levels, and ideally to 1.5 Celsius.

Yet time is running out and scientists warn that, to curb global warming and prevent drastic climate change, society needs rapid and unprecedented change.

“Governments and companies need to be thinking about what the scientists are telling us. COVID-19 teaches us that,” Sean Kidney, chief executive of Climate Bonds Initiative, said.

In the United States, Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, said the incoming administration has a “strong team” of leaders, including former Secretary of State John Kerry as climate czar, to help promote emerging technologies and minimize carbon emissions.

But supporting the transition to renewable energy would also be critical for businesses and local leaders, Sachs said.

“People know across the country that we need to do this, but what they need to see now is local plans,” Sachs said.

“Setting a 2050 net zero target is easy for a chief executive to do when they know they will be gone by the time it becomes clear whether or not the company has met that target,” Nick Stansbury, head of climate solutions at Legal & General Investment Management, said.

“It is key that near returns are demonstrably aligned with net zero targets with well-costed plans on how to get them and clear measures so we can track progress in the near term.”

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“It is key that near returns are demonstrably aligned with net zero targets with well-costed plans on how to get them and clear measures so we can track progress in the near term.”

Some businesses have set their own net zero carbon emission targets, but they vary in terms of what is included, making it difficult for investors to evaluate progress.
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