No matter the industry, business stakeholders care about lists – who’s on them and who’s on top. Consider this small sampling: Fast Company’s “50 Most Innovative Companies” list, Fortune’s “Change the World” list, Forbes’ “The World’s Most Reputable Companies” list, or Glassdoor’s “Best Places to Work.
Companies spend countless hours every year applying to appear on these lists, vying for the top spot and the ability to market that recognition to customers, investors, and employees. Just think, how many email signatures have you seen that end with “voted the best/most [fill in the blank] company for three years in a row”?
There are myriad psychological reasons why lists are so effective, popular and valuable. In the sustainability field, numerous rankings have emerged to help stakeholders assess corporate environmental performance and identify leaders from among the hundreds that have made environmental commitments.
Beyond bragging rights, sustainability rankings can also provide an essential service to companies by helping them define internal performance measures, attract top talent and link executive compensation to corporate sustainability.
Unfortunately, there’s a significant problem with these sustainability lists.
In the media storm surrounding the midterm elections, you might have missed an important act of sustainability leadership. Five of the world’s leading brands filed public comments opposing the Administration’s Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule. The ACE rule would replace the Clean Power Plan, which all five companies have previously supported, and place no quantitative limits on climate pollution from power plants.
In their public comments to the Environmental Protection Agency, Apple and the four members of the Sustainable Food Policy Alliance (SFPA) – Danone, Mars, Nestlé and Unilever – make it clear that clean energy is good for business, and call for policies that cut emissions in line with what science says is necessary.
Here are three of the key reasons they spoke up.
For the first time since 2010, a Republican has introduced a climate bill. Business leaders are welcoming its market-based approach to fighting climate change.
Yesterday, 34 U.S. businesses sent a public letter thanking Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL 26thDistrict) for introducing the MARKET CHOICE Act (H.R. 6463), a bill to fund infrastructure investment while cutting climate pollution. Companies that signed the letter include BP America, Campbell Soup Company, The Dow Chemical Company, DuPont, General Motors, Ingersoll Rand, Lyft, Inc., IKEA North America Services, LLC, National Grid, PG&E Corporation and Shell. The Sustainable Food Policy Alliance, which includes Danone, Mars, Nestle USA and Unilever also sent its own letter of support.
Why are these companies publicly thanking Rep. Curbelo and his cosponsors? Here are four takeaways for companies of all sizes.
US businesses turned out in force at COP 23 in Bonn, demonstrating to the rest of the world that they are committed to action on climate change, despite the US government’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. In fact, 2017 has been a banner year for corporate climate leadership: over 1700 businesses signed the We Are Still In declaration, and nearly half of all Fortune 500 companies now have climate and clean energy goals.
Now, there’s an immediate opportunity for companies to show leadership on climate change here at home: speaking up in defense of the Clean Power Plan, which the current Administration wants to eliminate but is still very much in play.
Here are three reasons for your business to publicly defend the Clean Power Plan before the EPA comment period ends on April 26, 2018.
As world leaders gather in Marrakech for the 22nd annual Conference of the Parties (COP 22) it’s worth celebrating the remarkable progress made recently in the global fight against climate change, and the positive contribution of U.S. businesses in making it happen.
The Paris Agreement entered into force on November 4th, four years ahead of schedule. Its rapid ratification by over 100 countries representing more than half of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions demonstrates the commitment of participants to urgent action on climate change. Over 150 U.S. corporations publicly expressed support for the Paris agreement, representing more than $4.2 trillion in annual revenue and with a combined market capitalization of over $7 trillion.
Last month, the International Civil Aviation Organization agreed to cap greenhouse gas emissions from international flights at 2020 levels, using market-based mechanisms to offset climate pollution from this rapidly growing sector. U.S. airlines welcomed the agreement as an effective complement to their own efforts to cut emissions through improvements to equipment, fuels and infrastructure, and as a unified global approach to achieving carbon-neutral growth from 2020 on.
Also in October, negotiators from nearly 200 countries agreed to an amendment to the Montreal Protocol that will phase down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), gases with 1,000 times the heat-trapping power of CO2. The agreement enjoyed the support of U.S. chemical companies that are developing environmentally preferable alternatives to HFCs, and is good news for companies everywhere that want to cut greenhouse gas emissions from their global supply chains.
[Tweet “Business support for smart climate policy is key to the success of #COP22”]
Business support was instrumental in reaching all three agreements, and will be critical to implementing them successfully. The good news is that leading companies are already taking action to help the U.S. meet its climate goals. To build on this great momentum, more companies need to take the next step in corporate climate leadership. Here are three ways business can step up:
- Setting ambitious GHG reduction goals. PepsiCo recently announced a goal to reduce absolute GHG emissions at least 20% by 2025, joining Kellogg’s, General Mills and Walmart in setting big goals to cut climate pollution from their supply chains. Almost 200 companies have joined the Science-Based Targets initiative, committing to reduce their GHG emissions in line with climate science.
- Scaling up renewable energy. Over 80 companies, including Apple, General Motors and Unilever have now joined RE100, an initiative to by committing to use 100% renewable energy sources. And the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance brings together three different initiatives working with break down barriers to large-scale renewable energy deployment. Together, these companies are leading the transition to a clean, low-carbon energy system.
- Shaping public policy. Leading businesses are looking beyond their fence lines and seeking to transform the systems in which they operate. By supporting climate and energy policies that impact entire sectors of the economy, they’re having the biggest impact of all. Earlier this year, eight companies including Apple, Google and Microsoft filed amicus briefs supporting the Clean Power Plan. And private fleet owners, engine manufacturers and technology providers joined together to advocate for the new Clean Truck standards announced in August by the U.S. EPA and DOT.
It will take the continued leadership of U.S. businesses to ensure that we stay on track to deliver on the promise of Paris, meeting our 2025 targets and bending the emissions curve even more steeply downward thereafter. Working together, businesses and policymakers can create a world in which a stable climate and thriving economy go hand in hand.
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The Clean Power Plan (CPP) is topping the news as major coalitions of supporters have filed amicus briefs with the D.C. Circuit Court. With leading brands like Google, Apple, Adobe, Amazon, IKEA, Mars and Microsoft all stepping up and voicing support, you might wonder – what’s in it for them?
The plan, which will lower the carbon emissions from existing power plants 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, is a practical, flexible way for the U.S. to cut climate pollution and protect public health. President Obama has called it “the single most important step that America has ever made in the fight against global climate change.”
It’s encouraging to see many states, cities, power companies, public health and medical associations, and environmental organizations continue to push for smart environmental policy. The full list of Clean Power Plan supporters is here.
We are particularly excited about the range of private sector support for the Clean Power Plan.
[Tweet “Businesses like Google, Adobe, IKEA and Apple have an important stake in the success of the #CleanPowerPlan”]
When it’s fully implemented, the Clean Power Plan will create $155 billion in consumer savings—putting more money back into the pockets of customers. And, a successful Clean Power Plan will help companies meet their renewable energy and greenhouse gas reduction targets.
What’s in it for Companies? Here’s what the Clean Power Plan will provide: Read more
The chorus of business voices calling for climate action has grown steadily in size and strength in the months leading up to the Paris climate talks. Now that COP 21 is finally here, companies have pumped up the volume even more, with a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal and a wave of new commitments to the American Business Act on Climate Pledge.
Championing a Low-Carbon USA
In today’s Wall Street Journal, over a hundred U.S. companies placed a full-page advertisement calling for a shift to a low-carbon economy. The ad’s message is simple: failure to act on climate change puts America’s prosperity at risk, but the right action now will create jobs and boost competitiveness.
Click for full ad in PDF
Companies as diverse as Colgate-Palmolive, DuPont, eBay, General Mills, Ingersoll-Rand, Microsoft, Owens Corning and Pacific Gas & Electric signed on to the ad, which encourages the U.S. government to:
- Seek a strong and fair global climate deal in Paris that provides long-term direction and periodic strengthening to keep global temperature rise below 2°C
- Support action to reduce U.S. emissions that achieves or exceeds national commitments and increases ambition in the future
- Support investment in a low-carbon economy at home and abroad, giving industry clarity and boosting the confidence of investors
These companies recognize that their efforts alone can’t solve an issue like climate change. Businesses need governments around the world to act as well. By setting ambitious goals and providing regulatory certainty, governments can unleash the power of the marketplace to deliver the necessary reductions in emissions, while also boosting competitiveness and economic growth. Read more
Experts are saying 2015 may turn out to be the hottest year on record. But thankfully, as my colleague Tom Murray predicted earlier this year, 2015 is also shaping up to be a year for action – by businesses and governments alike – to bend the curve on the emissions that cause climate change.
This year, the Obama administration introduced important new regulations to cut GHG emissions from the electric power, oil and gas and transportation sectors. And businesses are standing behind them. Investors representing $1.5 trillion in managed assets supported federal limits on methane emissions. PepsiCo, Ben & Jerry’s and other companies called for stronger fuel economy and emissions standards for heavy-duty trucks. And 365 companies and investors wrote to state governors urging timely implementation of the Clean Power Plan, our nation’s first-ever limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants.
A watershed moment for climate action is approaching in December, when the United States and other nations gather in Paris for the COP21 climate negotiations. A strong agreement in Paris could put the world on a path towards greenhouse gas reductions that science tells us are necessary for a stable climate. Business leadership will be critical, both to embolden the negotiators to reach a strong deal, and to ensure that the U.S. delivers on the commitments made in Paris.
Amplifying business support for climate action
Right now, there is a wealth of opportunities for businesses to voice their support for a strong outcome in Paris, and showcase their own efforts to cut climate pollution. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) recently organized a webinar to present those opportunities and clarify how companies can get involved. Read more
To many, it may seem that pursuing environmental sustainability would fall relatively low on a municipal housing authority’s goals. After all, providing moderate and low-income families with clean, stable homes in the face of uncertain federal subsidies and increasing taxpayer scrutiny is challenge enough.
The Housing Authority of the City and County of Denver (DHA), therefore, deserves praise for its innovative solar power program that not only provides renewable energy, but creates revenue for the housing authority, creates green jobs in the region, and saves taxpayers’ money – all the while reflecting the spirit of the federal Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge, which looks to reduce energy consumption by 20 percent by the year 2020. DHA serves as a model for municipalities across the country.
Andrea Davis of the DHA’s Real Estate Department and Chris Jedd, portfolio energy manager, showed the creativity and sheer will to make a lofty renewable energy goal affordable, manageable and successful, while providing their communities with empowerment, economic opportunity, and a vibrant living environment. Read more