The Consumer Goods Forum has published an open letter to its members from Managing Director Wai-Chan Chan in response to the recent IPCC report and need for urgent action.

Dear Members,

You will have seen earlier this week that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – the UN body responsible for climate science – released the first of its three-part 6th Assessment Report (AR6). The report represents the biggest update of the state of knowledge on climate science since the release of AR5 in 2014.

The headline findings of the report are sobering:

  • Scientists are certain that human-caused emissions have dangerously and permanently changed our planet. The kinds of extreme weather events we are seeing now will keep growing in strength and frequency unless we rapidly cut carbon emissions.
  • The fingerprints of manmade climate change can be found throughout the climate system. Scientists can now point to specific fires, floods, storms and heatwaves that have been made more likely and more extreme by climate change.
  • Carbon and methane emissions both need to be rapidly reduced this decade and reduced to net-zero by 2050, in order to give us our best chance of limiting temperatures to 1.5°C by the end of the century. But the window is closing fast on our opportunity to achieve this. In fact, our current emissions path is not good enough to prevent temperatures from rising above 2C.
  • There are very real limits to how much carbon can be absorbed by land and the ocean. If we fail to reduce emissions rapidly, we will be forced into the dangerous situation of relying on technologies that don’t yet meaningfully exist.

With the backdrop of extreme weather events which we are seeing already flaring up around the world in these final months before COP – as witnessed in Greece, Germany and the US, to name but a few – the publishing of this report could not be timelier. The bottom line is clear: we are grossly unprepared for a changing climate. 

As members of The Consumer Goods Forum, I trust you know all this already, but now is the time to act. Whether it is through our Coalitions of Action, like those on food waste and deforestation, or through your own positive business actions and collaborations, our industry needs to deliver.

However, time is short and this needs to be a decade of impact and action. If we move now, and quickly – we can still create a healthier, fairer, more resilient and ultimately more liveable zero-carbon world.

During our June Board Meeting, Alan Jope (Unilever) and Doug McMillion (Walmart) issued a pressing call-to-action for more members to commit to necessary actions through initiatives like the Race to Zero, a UN-backed global campaign rallying non-state actors across the global economy to take rigorous and immediate action to halve global emissions by 2030.

We have already set-up a taskforce to help members interested in joining the Race to Zero initiative, working with Accenture and the broader climate action network, and a series of webinars for September. We are also promoting action and collaboration through key events like the UN Food Systems Summit, NY Climate Week, COP 26 and our very own Sustainable Retail Summit.

The science has never been clearer. Please contact us to learn more about our Coalitions or if you are interested in learning more about joining the Race to Zero initiative. Take action today.


Wai-Chan Chan
Managing Director
The Consumer Goods Forum