How 3 Companies Fight Against Climate Change

Polar Bear (Sow), Near Kaktovik, Barter Island, AlaskaBy Chris Beck

Beyond the well-being of polar bears and state of melted glacial caps, the effects of climate change range far and wide. They touch all corners of the globe. They shift weather patterns, affect human health and diminish freshwater supplies.

How does climate change, that shift in global weather patterns that began in the mid 20th century, affect the way we do – or should do – business?

Climate plays an integral role in the ecosystems that occur naturally worldwide. Culture and human economy also rely on the average weather of a place. No matter what convention you go by when it comes to the source of climate change, if you’re in business in 2013, it affects you.

How though? How does climate change alter the business you operate, work for, or rely on?

No company, regardless of LEED certification status or green initiatives or global consciousness, can reverse climate change on their own. They can, however, initiate actions and behavioral changes that impact how they conduct business.

Here, are three companies who get it – and who get it done as they manage risks.


The issue

IBM’s eco-friendly awareness began well before most of ours did, more than 40 years ago. The global consulting and technology corporation uses its heft as a world player to enact programs such as the Green Sigma Coalition, which seeks to reduce operating costs and construct efficient supply chains.

The strategy

IBM’s sustainability approach is two-pronged: to attune its products and processes to efficient standards, and to create technology to aid a global effort for better accountability and environmental influence. The company keys on energy efficiency, manufacturing and distribution.

 The takeaway

IBM’s efforts remind us that every business – regardless of industry or scope – is part of a global strategy of sustainability. This applies to everything from production to distribution to innovation.


The issue

Erosion and pest infestation threatens coffee farmlands. Rainfall shifts and evolving harvest patterns in coffee-growing bioregions take a toll not only on available land, but also the economic communities nearby. Starbucks also is concerned with emissions from retail stores and roasting operations.

The strategy

Starbucks supports progressive climate-change policy, and assists conservation and restoration efforts in places such as Chiapas, Mexico; Minas Gerais, Brazil; and Sumatra, Indonesia. Starbucks connects farmers in these regions to government incentive packages for forest preservation and restoration.

The takeaway

Starbucks, through work with Conservation International, recognizes the shifting landscape of climate change, and how it can adapt its strategy to fit those changes.


The issue

Energy conservation is paramount. Verizon, a broadband and telecommunications company, operates a fiber internet network that reduces much of the infrastructure of the past. Carbon intensity reduction is important; Verizon also wants to ensure its top suppliers share its vision for maximum sustainability.

The strategy

Verizon customers can turn in old devices for new ones as part of a recycling program. Verizon Recycling Rallies have amassed more than a million points of e-waste. A 2009 initiative to reduce carbon intensity at cell sites and facilities and a 35,837-vehicle fleet by 50 percent by 2020 has reached 37.48 percent.

The takeaway

Internally, Verizon’s green efforts are admirable, but it’s the standards they set for top suppliers to also report on sustainability that go above and beyond. When industry heavy-hitters set those parameters, sustainable practice becomes a competitive advantage to those who participate.

[image credit: Rudy Blossom: Flickr cc]

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4 responses

  1. Science has agreed on nothing beyond “could be” a climate crisis and have never said it was inevitable or eventual so why do you news editors keep saying it WILL be a crisis when science has not?

  2. Most major companies see extreme weather and other climate change impacts as current or near-term business risks, but lack the data and tools needed to effectively assess and manage these risks, according to a report by the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions that found that 90 percent of companies in the Standard and Poor’s Global 100 Index identify extreme weather and climate change as risks, and most have experienced climate impacts or expect to within 10 years. Although most companies are well aware of these risks, relatively few are investing in resilience beyond “business as usual” because of a lack of information and tools to help them relate these risks to their specific business operations….

    Here are some specific ways to help companies mitigate climate change:

    Champion Trees and An Urgent Plan to Save the Planet

    Going Carbon Negative with Biochar

  3. Deny this:
    YOU believers and news editors and politicians cannot say a crisis WILL happen until science agrees it WILL happen. They only agreed on nothing beyond “could be” and have never said or agreed it WILL be an “inevitable” crisis. Prove me wrong.
    Find us one single IPCC warning that isn’t swimming in “maybes” and actually says a crisis WILL happen.

  4. Really good point mememine.

    I like to let my 5yo son play on the local 6 lane freeway. Most of my neighbours say he’s going to get hit by multiple cars and die a horrific death. But how do they know for certain? They can’t guarantee it, and it is pretty inconvenient for me to have to supervise him all the time. So I think the wisest option is for me to continue to let him play, until the neighbours can say for CERTAIN that it WILL happen.

    PS, no I don’t let my son play on the freeway (no need to alert child services!), and yes I realise that sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, but I am sick of being polite and constructive with climate deniers, plus I think absurd analogies sometimes help :-)

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