The 1.5°C Business Playbook: your company’s roadmap for exponential climate action

Is the 1.5-degree target just childsplay? Or does it make good business sense? It seems like the latter, and with this guide there is a way for businesses and organisations to lead us into a future for all.

We Don’t Have Time
We Don't Have Time
Published in
6 min readFeb 4, 2020


The playbook helps organisations leapfrog technological, social, and economical barriers, and those who use it will be at a distinct competitive advantage.

We Don’t Have Time are a proud contributor to this initiative which have collected a wide range of actors from business, academia and civil society organisations.

The playbook truly may be a do or die situation. Read on — it will be crucial for your business, and an inspiration!

‘India Bundled Wind’, Flickr: Land Rover Our Planet with rights under CC BY-ND 2.0 license. The picture shows: “A laborer is seen working at a diesel powered crusher in font of a wind turbine. This is a 17.5 MW wind project, consisting of eighteen wind farm sites in the Indian states of Tamil Nadu/../.“

“This playbook is to prepare businesses for the fastest economic transition in history and help them drive it.”

(The 1.5°C Business Playbook, p. 2)

Who is The 1.5°C Business Playbook for?

The 1.5°C Business Playbook is designed for companies and organisations of all sizes that want to align with the 1.5°C ambition, to strengthen their strategy in doing so, and to help engage their suppliers and employees for the road ahead. Companies that have already enrolled in sector climate initiatives can use it to benchmark their approach and increase their pace for the transition into sustainable businesses for today’s and tomorrow’s consumers.

Fig. 1 ‘Reduction Pathways’, The 1.5°C Business Playbook, p. 14–15. With rights from The Exponential Roadmap.

The Playbook is based on the latest science and focuses on “simplicity and speed”. It is designed to “work in harmony with existing standards and key initiatives such as the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG), Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), CDP, RE100, Mission Innovation’s 1.5°C Avoided Emissions Framework and the Chambers Climate Coalition.” (p. 4)

Why follow the Playbook?

The reasons for taking bold climate actions are abundantly obvious for organisations wanting to be in business for the foreseeable future. And, from an existential point of view, these actions are crucial for humanity.

In Sept. 2019 the Business Ambition for 1.5°C of the SBTi initiative (the We Mean Business Coalition and UN Global Compact), announced:

“The next decade is critical. The recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned of severe consequences of a failure to prevent global warming exceeding 1.5°C. To limit temperature increase to 1.5°C, emissions need to halve by 2030, and drop to netzero by the middle of the century for the best chance of avoiding the worst impacts of climate change. By taking this pledge you are formalising your increased ambition and signaling your commitment to a zero emissions future to your peers, investors, policy makers, customers, suppliers, civil society organisations, and other stakeholders.” (p. 3, referring to “Business Ambition for 1.5°C campaign: a joint effort of the SBTi, the We Mean Business Coalition and UN Global Compact”).

Four pillars for fast, foundational change

The Playbook lays out a strategy for “the fastest economic transition in history“ (p. 2) that is based on four pillars:





Fig. 2‘The Four Pillars’, The 1.5°C Business Playbook, p. 10–11. With rights from The Exponential Roadmap.

Each pillar is set up as a checklist of “Actions” and “Key Reductions Measures”. Each one contains clear examples and is grounded in science and best practices that can be applied across all sectors. The Playbook is general and action-oriented by design. The idea is to start the transition — now — based on current technologies and without any fancy or time-consuming processes or certifications from organisations. This means you need not wait for anyone else to take the driver’s seat toward today’s and tomorrow’s customers and employees, alliances, or partnerships.

This guidebook lays out the roadmap saying: START TODAY; DO IT NOW.

The report ends with the crucial principle of tracking and measuring impact and progression toward the 1.5°C target. The basic principles of measuring include reporting greenhouse gas emissions and scopes 1, 2, and 3, as well as considering how to align with and include the targets as approved by SBTi, CDP, TCFD, etc. (p. 24)

If you’re looking for more detailed, sector-oriented roadmaps, we recommend an additional guidebook, Exponential Roadmap: Scaling 36 Solutions to Halve Emissions by 2030 (version 1.5, 2019).

What you need to do

If you’re a decision-maker within a business or organisation, the obvious thing is to download The 1.5°C Business Playbook, and then get on with it.

The answer for employees and partners wanting your business or organisation to take climate action is to forward this article to stakeholders who can make this happen. Do it today!

Authors and contributors

The concept and lead author of The 1.5°C Business Playbook is Johan Falk of the Exponential Roadmap project and senior innovation fellow at Stockholm Resilience Centre. The long list of authors and contributing authors can be found on the final page of the guide (p. 26).

“We designed the 1.5°C Business Playbook to make it easy for businesses to set sharp targets and meet them through clear action. In fact, many companies can halve their emissions much faster than every decade ​.We are entering a crucial decade. Everyone needs to take responsibility and act right now and cutting fossil fuel emissions rapidly and shifting to sustainable, exponential business models. We need to mobilise the entire business sector to create the critical mass required,” says​ ​Johan Falk. Lead author of the 1.5Playbook, Exponential Roadmap Initiative, Senior Innovation Fellow, Stockholm Resilience Centre

“The science makes clear that we need a fundamental reshaping of business and finance. Every board and every company must show a credible strategy to align with 1.5°C. This Playbook is an excellent guide for the necessary journey to net zero emissions, to prepare business for the fastest economic transition in history and help them drive it. It’s a guide for preserving a more liveable planet for future generations,” ​Christiana Figueres, Former head of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Convenor of Mission 2020.

“This Playbook is aligned with the target to limit global warming to just 1.5°C. The only pathway left is massive emissions reductions across all business sectors in the next decade. We show that this is achievable,” says ​Johan Rockström, Director of Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK).

Contributing partners to the Playbook include:
World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Ericsson, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Internet of Planet Exponential Roadmap, Haga Initiative, 2050 Consulting, The New Division Mission, 2020 International, Chamber of Commerce (ICC), World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), IKEA, Max Burgers, Fossil Free Sweden, Initiative, The Finnish Future Fund (Sitra), Skanska, Telia Company, Project Everyone, Scania, Normative Engaged Tracking, Cero, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Climate Leadership Coalition, Climate Hero,, Breakit, and We Don’t HaveTime. The funding is provided by Vinnova.

Fig. 2, The contributing partners, The 1.5°C Business Playbook. With rights from The Exponential Roadmap.

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We Don’t Have Time is a review platform for climate action. Together we are the solution to the climate crisis.