Climate Action

21 reasons for hope in 2021

Heavy-lifting by our partners in climate action let us enter 2021 with slightly lighter hearts. The IKEA Foundation is proud to spotlight their hard work. Read about 21 of their planet-positive breakthroughs so far and the many ways they continue to be sources of hope.


Reason 1: Ending waste
On 12 January, our partner What Design Can Do launched the global NO WASTE Challenge. This is the third in a series of climate-themed global design challenges organised by What Design Can Do since 2018. Designers and creative thinkers in seven major cities (Delhi, Amsterdam, São Paolo, Mexico City, Nairobi and Tokyo) will compete for funding and support to develop their social enterprise ideas for tackling waste and reducing emissions.

Reason 2: Government ambition
The EU’s 27 national leaders came together to increase the bloc’s joint commitment to reduce net emissions by 55% by 2030. This is a big improvement on the 40% target set by the Paris Agreement. The new target was enshrined in law by a unanimous decision of the European Council. €1.8 billion in EU budget and recovery funds will be linked to the 55% target.


Reason 3: Investor engagement
Our partner ShareAction issued Point of No Returns, a report ranking 75 of the world’s asset managers’ approaches to responsible investment. The assessments opened the door to what ShareAction describes as “intensive engagement” with 48 investment firms,
many of which fell at the bottom of the ranking. According to ShareAction, this “is significant in terms of our ability to drive tangible progress in stewardship practices”.

Reason 4: Breathing room
On 16 December 2020, a court inquest in the UK gave new hope to campaigners working to improve air quality by adding weight to efforts to cut toxic emissions. The landmark ruling set a precedent by concluding that excessive air pollution had contributed to the tragic death of nineyear- old Ella Kissi-Debrah. Purpose Climate Lab, through its collaboration with UK100 and the British Lung Foundation, as well as the Clean Air Fund, were instrumental in elevating Ella’s case.

© Rosamond Kissi-Debrah
© Rosamund Kissi-Debrah

Reason 5: More government ambition!
Japan and South Korea have set targets for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and China has set a similar target by 2060. The TARA project by The European Climate Foundation played a role in influencing
local decisi
on processes that led to these outcomes, in particular through its work South Korea and Japan.

Reason 6: Clear pathways for reducing emissions per country
Our partner Climate Analytics supports individual countries to set climate action targets in line with the Paris Agreement. This year they will present emission reduction pathways that are tailormade for countries, starting in Asia, and consider what is economically viable and technically feasible.

Reason 7: Energy efficiency in the built environment
In October 2020, the European Commission announced its Renovation Wave Strategy, a major project to improve the energy performance of buildings. It is one of the Commission’s lighthouse projects within the scope of the Green Deal. The Renovation Wave Strategy aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, boost economic recovery and reduce energy poverty. It comes at a crucial moment for Europe’s short-term economic recovery and long-term path towards climate neutrality. Under the strategy, the current annual rate of buildings renovation will be at least doubled by 2030. It would involve the renovation of up to 35 million buildings over the next 10 years, which could create at least 1.6 million jobs. Although a tripling of the current renovation rate is needed to reach net zero by 2050, this represents a major step forward from previous proposals. Our partner The European Climate Foundation and its local partners have played a crucial role in getting the Renovation Wave on the European agenda and ramping up its level of ambition. It also showed the need for regulatory policies in existing building stock, stronger targets and large amounts of dedicated financing.

Reason 8: South Asia real economy leadership
24 leading Indian companies are pledging carbon neutrality and will work together with the Indian government towards this goal. These companies include Tata, Reliance, Mahindra, ITC, ACC, Adani and Dalmia
Cement. Our partner the We Mean Business coalition advised the Indian government on the leading Indian companies to be included in the pledge.


Reason 9: Clean transport gearing up
Countries across Europe have been developing green recovery plans, especially to ramp up clean transport.
The European Climate Foundation, with support from the IKEA Foundation for its clean transport strategy, has moved quickly to leverage grantees’ national experience
and contacts to influence plans for the automotive industry.

Reason 10: Lockdown opens a new window
Lockdowns across Europe have shown citizens what a world with less pollution would look like, as people work from home and travel less. Our partner The European
Climate Foundation
is working to make sure that new zero emissions and low speed zones, bike lanes and pedestrian paths are made permanent. In France, public support for green measures was clear from the re-election of Socialist mayor Anne Hidalgo in Paris, who made greening mobility a central part of her campaign.

© Dadyiev

Reason 11: Science-based targets
The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) reached the milestone of enlisting more than 1,000 companies1 to commit to science-based targets. These companies reduced their combined emissions by 25% between 2015-2019, in
line with the Paris Agreement. While global emissions continue to rise, the typical company with science-based targets has reduced its direct emissions by 6.4% per year from 2015 to 2019 since setting its target. There is evidence of accelerated growth, with the rate of adoption of science-based targets doubling in 2020 compared to the period 2015-2019, with over 370 companies joining the SBTi in 2020 at an average rate of 31 per month. In addition, corporate ambition is rising, with 1.5Cº the new north star: 41% of all companies with science-based targets have 1.5Cº -aligned scope 1 and 2 targets— now the most popular type of target. With additional support by new donors, the We Mean Business coalition and the SBTi are now getting ready for exponential growth, including ways to facilitate the inclusion
of SME companies and decarbonise full supply chains. Read more

Reason 12: Battery breakthrough
Transport & Environment (T&E), supported by our partner ClimateWorks Foundation, announced in December that the European Commission proposed a draft law on batteries. This will strengthen transparency and reporting on carbon footprint; social and
environmental due diligence; and recycling targets for the recovery of cobalt, copper, nickel (95%) and lithium (70%). Read more


Reason 13: Planet positive healthcare sector
“Do no harm” is the guiding principle of health workers around the world. But while the healthcare sector saves many lives, it also contributes to the global climate crisis: the emissions related to the healthcare sector are estimated at around 4.4% of global greenhouse gas emissions (more than the aviation sector). Our partner Health Care Without Harm, with its member network of 43,000 healthcare institutions in 68 countries, is developing national roadmaps and tools to support the healthcare sector to align emissions targets with the Paris Agreement.

Reason 14: Funding visionary thinkers
Each year, our partner Climate Breakthrough Project supports some of the world’s brightest, most imaginative minds in climate policy, law, finance, forestry, energy and behaviour change. This year, their two newest awardees are Mohamed Adow from Kenya (Powershift) and Nicole Rycroft from Canada (Canopy). Over the next three years, each gets a $3 million grant to develop bold solutions and
strategies for tackling the climate crisis. Mohamed Adow (pictured) is an international climate policy expert and
advocate for people in developing nations, who are disproportionately affected by climate change but play almost no role in causing it.

© Climate Breakthrough

Reason 15: Net-zero commitments
on the rise

Our partner NewClimate Institute found that the number of net-zero pledges from cities, regions and companies has roughly doubled since late 2019. Even companies in emissions-intensive industries, such as fossil fuels, materials and transportation services, are setting ambitious targets. While this is a strong signal of hope, there is still much work to be done to develop credible net-zero definitions.

Reason 16: Whole Life Carbon builds a cleaner future
As the world’s population approaches 10 billion by 2050, global building stock is expected to double in size. The challenge to reduce emissions from buildings is tremendous and different for each region in the world.Without changing how the sector operates, global emissions related to the built environment could double. The BuildingLife project from our partner World Green Building Council aims to drive down “whole life carbon” emissions in the built environment in Europe. This includes emissions from energy used in running buildings as well as embodied emissions from their construction and the materials used.


Reason 17: Brazil takes finance risk
into account

In 2020, the Brazilian Central Bank
recognised the importance of integrating climate change in financial risk. It joined the Network of Central Banks and Supervisors for Greening the Financial System in March 2020. Our partner Instituto Clima e Sociedade is planning to continue working to deepen the commitment of Brazil’s finance sector to a net-zero future.

Reason 18: Tool for responsible

Investors can save the planet by working towards the adoption of a shared accounting standard. Our partner The Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials provides financial institutions with a robust and transparent method to measure the emissions they finance. This gives the financial industry an important tool to measure the carbon intensity of investment portfolios. This is an important prerequisite for target-setting that will ultimately steer capital towards the most responsible companies. Read more


Reason 19: Public engagement
2021 is a pivotal year for climate action. This must begin with governments investing more in how they communicate about the climate emergency. Many of our partners are working behind the scenes to pave the way for success at the annual Climate Summit, COP26. Climate Outreach, for example, is developing a communications strategy leading up to COP26 that puts public engagement at the centre of the design of all climate policy. This work is pivotal in the fight against climate change.

Reason 20: Leading by example
Two relevant pieces of analysis (“Peak Oil is Suddenly Upon Us” and “Decline and Fall: The Size and Vulnerability of the Fossil Fuel System”) were published
by Bloomberg and Carbon Tracker in December 2020. Though neither are funded directly by the IKEA Foundation’s partners, the conclusions of these reports arguably reflect the success of multiple partners supported by climate funders, including us. The graphical representations of the 2020 collapse of oil prices, the rise of electric vehicle sales, and the projections for future oil demand give us a big reason to hope.

© Blue Planet Studio

Reason 21: A just transition for all
In a world that is rapidly committing to lower emissions, climate policy needs to prioritise the phase-out of industries that harm workers, community health and the planet. But this must happen in a fair and equitable way. This year will focus on ensuring a “just transition”, which benefits communities that stand to lose out in the impending clean energy transition. Our partner Fair Energy Transition for All (FETA) is among the organisations paving the way to a green and healthy future, led by and for the many people, giving a voice to communities that are in danger of being left behind.