Every day, we see another article about forests disappearing in the Amazon. This coverage shines light on a significant global problem that is only intensifying. With all the bad news, I was especially energized to attend the Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 (TFA 2020) Annual Meeting last week, where around 200 passionate people gathered to promote a forest positive future.
Corporate America is setting – and meeting – increasingly ambitious climate and clean energy goals. But the hard reality is that individual corporate action, no matter how big, won’t solve this great climate crisis.
In order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we need public policies that harness the power of the whole economy to drive down emissions by putting prices and limits on climate pollution.
Businesses that are sincerely interested in protecting our health, economy and future from the ravages of climate change must join this national public policy discussion. We need companies to lead, not follow, Congress.
That’s why it’s big news that 13 major companies have now joined four nonprofit organizations, including Environmental Defense Fund, to form the core of a new effort to push for climate policy. The CEO Climate Dialogue initiative involves major food brands, powerful utilities, and one of the nation’s leading car companies. Our goal is to turn the power of the marketplace towards addressing this crisis. Read more
What do Houston, London, and San Francisco have in common? You might be thinking about great food, an excellent job market or a thriving arts scene, but the answer is that all three cities are taking action to improve their understanding of an often invisible urban threat: air pollution.
A new poll by CNN shows that climate change now ranks as the very top issue among Democratic voters – beating out historically popular issues like healthcare.
Engaging in climate advocacy is growing globally. And what I find to be especially interesting is the innovative approaches that people are taking to make their voices heard.
Climate change’s time could be now, and people are seizing the opportunity. People like Summer Sandoval.
The contrast between how the two largest retailers – Amazon and Walmart – engage on sustainability is on full display right now.
Every April, Walmart convenes hundreds of suppliers, associates and partners at an annual meeting to evaluate progress against the company’s aspirational sustainability goals. A major focus this year was celebrating progress on Project Gigaton: in just two years, more than 1,000 suppliers have signed on to the initiative and collectively avoided 93 million metric tons of emissions towards the billion-ton GHG reduction goal.
More than five decades ago, IBM CEO Thomas Watson, Jr. stated that “Businessmen are influential leaders in public opinion. That is why it is so important that they be as open-minded and far-sighted in matters concerning the general public need as they are in questions relating to the operation of their businesses.”
Today, Wayne Balta, Vice President of Corporate Environmental Affairs and Product Safety at IBM, is keeping Watson’s commitment to sustainable business practices alive.
I recently spoke with Wayne to learn more about IBM’s sustainability goals – including an effort to procure 55 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2025 – and how the company is using technology to help solve environmental challenges.
Here’s an edited transcript of our conversation.
The days when business leaders could dodge social or political issues are coming to an end. CEO engagement on issues such as health care, sexual harassment, gun control and immigration have been steadily on the rise.
In a U.S. House committee meeting just last week, lawmakers “grilled [bank] executives more on social issues than business fundamentals,” according to Reuters, and probed them about fossil fuel investments.
And as a recent Axios Trends piece suggests, pressure on CEOs to address social issues is increasing ahead of the 2020 political campaigns. In particular, demands that they act on climate change are heating up.
By: Elizabeth Sturcken, Managing Director, EDF+Business Supply Chain, Environmental Defense Fund and Sheila Bonini, Senior Vice President, Private Sector Engagement, WWF – World Wildlife Fund
Imagine, for a moment, what it would mean if the world’s biggest brands couldn’t access the key ingredients for their products. What if Starbucks had trouble sourcing coffee? What if Coca-Cola couldn’t access water? As the predicted effects of a changing climate such as droughts and rising temperatures become a reality, these “what if” questions raise serious concerns for global supply chains.
Such issues were foundational for last week’s Walmart Milestone sustainability summit at the company’s headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas. Our two NGOs work with Walmart as it pushes to fulfill its ambitious climate commitments.
One of those is Project Gigaton, which in its two-year lifespan has avoided 93 million metric tons of emissions toward the one billion ton goal. It may be the company’s most ambitious sustainability initiative, and we — along with dozens of other advocacy groups — have taken a keen interest in this initiative.
I decided to repeat this process again for this year. But, before I share the top trends for 2019, let me first explain how they are identified.
The growing and changing field of corporate sustainability
I work with hundreds of companies each year to help them determine sustainability projects that make the most sense for their unique business and goals. Through one-on-one conversations with companies participating in EDF Climate Corps, which hit a record high for the second consecutive year, I get a close up look at how businesses across industries – from big tech companies like Google and Amazon, to food and beverage giants like McDonald’s and Danone Waters North America – plan to reduce their environmental impact.
Here are the top trends in corporate sustainability for 2019 that I’ve identified by analyzing the data from this year’s EDF Climate Corps host applications:
- Mobility projects will gain popularity as a strategy to reduce emissions. Transportation is the leading cause of U.S. emissions. So it’s understandable why mobility-focused projects are everywhere right now – from transitioning corporate fleets into EVs to reducing the use of single-occupancy vehicles thanks to ridesharing and micro-mobility alternatives, like e-scooters. Companies are looking to mobility-related projects as a solution to reduce their operational, supply chain, and transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, planned IPOs from Lyft and Uber have made headlines recently with some believing that this could lead to more aggressive actions on carbon emission reductions from ride-hailing apps, due to shareholder pressure.
What the data shows: This year, 15% of EDF Climate Corps projects are related to mobility issues, two times as many as last year.
- Longstanding sustainability champions will be joined by the majority. We’re in an exciting transition period: Sustainability is no longer being championed by only the early adopters, but rather the majority. Companies, from well-established corporations to growing medium-sized enterprises, are formally establishing sustainability programs and climate strategies for the very first time. For example, in Barron’s second annual ranking of the 100 Most Sustainable U.S. Companies, one-third of the companies were ranked for the first time this year.
What the data shows: This year, one out of six new EDF Climate Corps hosts are establishing their first-ever official sustainability program.
- Science-Based Targets will see greater diversity from industries. Last year, I identified the rapid growth of companies setting Science-Based Targets (SBTs) as a trend. Since then, the number of companies that have publically committed or already set a SBT – including Hershey and Iron Mountain – has more than doubled. There are a number of public, voluntary commitments to initiatives around GHG emissions (We Are Still In, RE100), but the SBT Initiative has become an industry best practice. In the year ahead, we will see more industry diversity in SBT commitments, and more collaboration between companies to tailor and adapt methodologies to their specific industry.
What the data shows: Companies participating in this year’s EDF Climate Corps program with a focus on Science-Based Target projects have tripled compared to last year’s cohort.
Congratulations to all of the companies that are redefining what it means to be a corporate sustainability leader this year.
Stay tuned for an update on these trends this fall using real-world projects from this summer.
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Something you don’t hear every day: oil and gas methane regulations can reinforce innovation and leadership. Numerous new methods to reduce oil and gas methane emissions are being developed; and regulators, environmentalists, oil companies and innovators are working together to craft a new way for innovation to be recognized and rewarded.
I interviewed Drew Pomerantz of Schlumberger, the world’s largest provider of oilfield services, about what new methods and technologies are available to reduce oil and gas methane emissions, what their impact might be, and what is needed to realize that potential.