Companies operating across the G20 have come together to urge governments to strengthen their national climate targets and redirect public spending to keep the 1.5ºC climate goal within reach.

Signatories of an open letter, distributed through the We Mean Business coalition, include Unilever, Netflix, Volvo Cars, Iberdrola and Natura & Co. The businesses represent £1.8 trillion in revenue and employ more than 8.5 million people worldwide.

The letter, which has been sent prior to pivotal G20 talks in Rome and the COP26 conference, calls for the world’s biggest economies to deliver on the existing commitment to US$100 billion in climate finance annually for developing countries, to end fossil fuel subsidies by 2025 and to put a price on carbon.

It also calls for an immediate end to new coal power development and financing with plans for phasing out coal-fired power generation by 2030 for advanced economies, and 2040 for other countries. Signatories also want public finance to align around a 1.5ºC trajectory by ensuring that existing public climate finance commitments are met. Alongside this were calls for climate-related financial disclosure of risks, opportunities and impacts to be made mandatory for corporations.

“Our businesses recognize the benefits of climate action,” the signatories said in the letter. “The right policy decisions taken today can drive further investments and spur business decisions in favour of climate solutions across G20 countries.”

María Mendiluce, CEO of the We Mean Business Coalition, commented: “It’s essential that governments take confidence from this letter – the biggest and most ambitious call for policy action from business that we’ve seen – and step up their climate action plans. “Ahead of COP26, countries should renew their national plans and turn them into concrete policies as outlined in this letter. Decisive government and business action can trigger a transition of our energy system to help build a resilient, carbon-free future.”

The letter, which remains open for companies to sign over the coming month, also calls for scaling up electrification of transport and renewable energy across sectors, including removing barriers to corporate purchasing of 100 per cent renewable electricity to “enable companies to go quicker in their clean energy transition.”

“Time is running out to keep 1.5 degrees within reach,” said Alan Jope, CEO of Unilever. “The private sector is already taking bold action as the business case for resilient, net-zero economies is crystal clear. But we can only get there if governments set ambitious climate goals. We urge the G20 leaders to go all-in on the goal of halving global emissions by 2030, with targets, policies and public investment commensurate with the scale of that challenge. In doing so, they can set the world on course for a new era of sustainable, inclusive and resilient growth, at a time when it has never been more necessary.”

Chairman and CEO of Asics, Motoi Oyama said: “We appeal to G20 leaders to seize this pivotal moment to take action that ensures we can collectively halve global emissions by 2030. Business has the potential to bring about rapid change, but we need clear and consistent policies to drive the business investments and decisions that will build stronger, just, and more resilient economies, both for our own business activities across the globe, as well as those of our business partners in other G20 countries. We believe that for people to achieve a sound mind in a sound body, we need a sound earth.”