The drive towards this net zero target by 2050 is increasingly gaining momentum at national, regional and international levels.

Countries such as Norway and Sweden have already set targets for net zero emissions before or by mid-century. Others, including Brazil, Ethiopia, France and New Zealand, have agreed to develop long term pathways to transition to net zero emissions as part of the carbon neutrality coalition. In the UK, the climate and energy minister has also hinted at a 2050 net zero emissions target.

Meanwhile, the EU could soon become the first major economic bloc to raise its climate targets under the UN framework this year after the EU Climate Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete said it was time to "press the throttle".

But this is no top-level paper exercise or empty gesture. A net zero target is increasingly supported and anticipated by companies from across sectors and regions as the necessary catalyst to unlock ambition, innovation and collaboration to achieve the Paris Agreement.

We gained these insights last month when the Corporate Leaders Group (CLG) held a roundtable involving UK businesses and MPs to explore setting a net zero carbon emission target for the UK.

The talks, which included insights from CLG members such as Unilever, Interface, and Anglian Water, focused on the power of setting clear targets to galvanise investment and to achieve a zero carbon economy.

Business leaders compared it to the ambition of putting a man on the moon. Such an audacious goal mobilised the creativity, competition and capital that not only achieved it but spawned many other benefits as well.

We heard loud and clear that a target of net zero emissions by 2050 would be the impetus that would unlock continued and relentless efforts towards greater efficiencies - bringing rewards for the planet and for profitability.

Many companies already recognise that reducing energy use, for example, can bring financial benefits to their business and some shared their experience of setting their own aspirational targets. But a deadline of 2050, which can be achieved if we accept reaching peak emissions in 2020, would give the sense of urgency needed to align strategy with concrete goals.

So when policymakers and world leaders meet in San Francisco next month, this will be our message: businesses are ready and willing to commit to acting on climate change but they also need to see bold commitments from the top.

When it comes to transitioning to a zero carbon economy, we should be shooting for the moon and we might just save the planet.

 This blog post was first published in BusinessGreen on 7 August 2018.