In a statement, the Chicago company said it would speed up the process of reducing its carbon footprint across restaurants, offices and its supply chain by setting new targets in collaboration with the nonprofit Science Based Targets initiative.
More than 1,000 companies have signed similar pledges through the United Nations or SBTi.
"By committing to net zero through the SBTi’s Business Ambition for 1.5°C campaign, we are helping every community we serve mitigate the impacts of climate change and adapt for the future," McDonald's President and Chief Executive Officer Chris Kempczinski said in a statement.
McDonald's teams worldwide will innovate in areas of renewable energy, regenerative farming, circular economy and sustainable packaging. Markets like the UK and Ireland have already begun work on this, the company said.
McDonald's will work with SBTi to develop 1.5°C emissions reduction pathways for forestry, land and agriculture, and to define a science-based framework for net zero emissions.
"We're trying to send a signal to our partners, to our investors, to our suppliers, to other brands in the global community, to policymakers, that we share that vision for 2050," Chief Sustainability Officer Jenny McColloch told Reuters in an interview.
United Nations scientists say the world's net emissions must fall to zero by 2050 to limit the rise in global temperatures to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius versus pre-industrial levels.
Last month, Procter & Gamble (PG) - Get Procter & Gamble Company Report said it aimed to produce net-zero carbon emissions by 2040 by investing in planting trees, moving to 100% renewable electricity, and using carbon offsets.
Earlier this year, Wall Street titans including Wells Fargo (WFC) - Get Wells Fargo & Company Report, Bank of America (BAC) - Get Bank of America Corp Report, JPMorgan (JPM) - Get JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) Report and Morgan Stanley (MS) - Get Morgan Stanley (MS) Report announced "net zero" greenhouse gas emissions goals by 2030 and 2050.
Energy giant Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A) - Get Royal Dutch Shell Plc Sponsored ADR Class A Report doubled down on its previous goal; and BlackRock (BLK) - Get BlackRock, Inc. Report, the world’s biggest asset manager, said its portfolio companies would need to show how they plan to reach net zero by 2050.
Separately, HP (HPE) - Get Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. (HPE) Report and cloud-computing firm Salesforce (CRM) - Get salesforce.com, inc. Report have signed onto the Climate Pledge, an Amazon-backed (AMZN) - Get Amazon.com, Inc. Report initiative that asks firms to commit to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2040.
Shares of McDonald's at last check were off 0.19% to $242.46.