At COP21, the governments of almost 200 nations spoke with one voice to fight climate change. Global corporations played a critical role in making this breakthrough moment possible. Now it’s more important than ever that US business leaders continue to lead, sending a powerful message to the world about our commitment to a thriving, clean energy future.
So what can forward-thinking companies do to show leadership on climate and position their firms to succeed in the low-carbon future? Here are three ways that corporate leaders can step up their sustainability efforts in 2016:
1. Set public, science-based emission reduction goals that extend beyond your operations and into your supply chains
Companies around the world are increasing their climate leadership and ambition. Announcing big numbers is no longer enough. Greenhouse gas (GHG) targets must be based on what science tells us is required to limit warming and stabilize the climate.
One major corporation that has actively engaged its supply chain is Walmart. Working closely with Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), the world’s largest retailer exceeded its 5-year goal and reduced 28 million metric tons of GHG from its global supply chain and product life cycles. EDF was on the ground, providing the science and uncovering the GHG hotspots in Walmart’s supply chain. By sending the right demand signals, Walmart was able to engage its vast network of suppliers to unlock innovation and drive emission reductions, proving that big goals drive big innovation.
In addition, Kellogg has announced it plans to cut GHG emissions by 65% across its own operations, and for the first time, work with suppliers to cut supply chain emissions by 50% by 2050.
Leading companies recognise that today’s environmental challenges are too big to tackle on their own. Taking a systems-approach means looking beyond the four walls of your company, collaborating with key supply chain partners, and sending a clear demand signal for sustainable products and practices across your supply chain. 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
The combination of the Pope’s visit, Climate Week NYC and news of China planning a national cap and trade program has made last week huge in terms of support for climate action. But it’s also been a week of great sustainability news coming out of corporate America, and I’m excited to see the momentum building.
- Companies publicly stating aggressive, science-based sustainability goals? Check.
- Big brands supporting the Clean Power Plan? Check.
- Business committing to set an internal price on carbon? Check.
- Increasing commitment to sourcing 100% of energy from renewables? Check.
Like I said, it’s been a really good week. After 18 years as a sustainability advocate, I’m encouraged to see companies continuing to step up their leadership on climate— making public, science-based commitments and increasingly creating an environment where denial and delay by private and public sector leaders is no longer acceptable. Many of the companies who have made commitments, (this week, before this week, and hopefully leading into COP21), are demonstrating that tending one’s own sustainability garden is necessary but no longer sufficient—corporate leaders of today and tomorrow need to collaborate with each other for greater impact and assert public policy leadership as well. Read more
Capitalizing on the momentum of Environmental Defense Fund’s groundbreaking Green Portfolio partnership with leading private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co (KKR), we are taking our Private Equity show on the road to one of the most visible and well-attended conferences, the Dow Jones PE Analyst Outlook 2010 in New York City, January 25th – 27th.
The event will include perspectives from elite institutional investors, fund managers and advisors about the major PE investing trends for 2010, including a focus on environmental performance.
Environmental Defense Fund will be the first and only NGO to attend the conference, and Tom Murray will speak on a panel about where investors should focus in 2010. He’ll introduce attendees to our Green Returns program, an innovative and flexible approach designed to create business and environmental value for the private equity sector that was developed as part of EDF’s partnership with KKR.
Tom's panel will also include speakers from top PE funds 3i, THL and Huntsman Gay, all of which take a hands-on approach to investing in their portfolio companies.
I look forward to hearing what role the top representatives of the private equity sector sees for environmental innovation in 2010 and beyond. Share your ideas and best practices with us here.