A group of more than 150 business leaders and investors ahead of the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s State of the Union address Wednesday have urged the EU to raise its greenhouse gas emission reduction target for 2030 to 55% when compared to 1990 levels.

That would be at the upper limit of the 50-55% goal envisaged by the European Green Deal that was first proposed by the commission in December 2019, and also the same target adopted by the block’s largest economy, Germany. The EU so far has a 40% emission cut target for 2030.

Among the companies calling for the 55% target in an open letter are Microsoft, IKEA, Deutsche Bank, Unilever, H&M, Google, EDF, and Apple. The initiative is led by the European Corporate Leaders Group (CLG Europe), a cross-sectoral group of European businesses working towards delivering climate neutrality.

“As we work together to achieve a green recovery from Covid-19, we have an unprecedented opportunity to act on climate change and gain momentum on our path towards carbon neutrality in Europe,” said Casper Klynge, vice president European government affairs at Microsoft.

“Setting clear and ambitious targets is necessary to reach net zero. All of us – businesses and governments – can take actions that are good for growth, jobs and the economy, as well as for the planet.”

The business leaders stressed the urgent need for an ambitious implementation of the recovery package focussed on achieving a green and digital transition, with the European Green Deal at its core.

“Banks play a crucial role in this ambitious transformation. We can and must help companies to do business more sustainably. But we need the EU to pave the way by providing common standards,” Deutsche Bank chief executive Christian Sewing said.

Jesper Brodin, CEO of the Ingka Group / IKEA Retail was even more demanding.

“The time for talk is over. We need to act, and we need to act now to accelerate climate action and limit global warming to below 1.5°C,” Brodin said.

“IKEA is committed to become climate positive by 2030 and we ask governments to do the same. Stepping up their ambition and increasing the EU’s GHG emission reduction target for 2030 is essential in order to ensure a future that is climate neutral.”

Lisa Jackson, vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives, at Apple added: “The choice between a healthy planet and good business strategy has always been a false one, and we’ve proved that with a company that runs on 100% clean energy and a supply chain transitioning to do the same.

“As Apple works towards 100% carbon neutral products and a carbon neutral supply chain by 2030, we’ll continue to call for the strong global targets we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect this planet for future generations.”