With a busy week behind you and the weekend within reach, there’s no shame in taking things a bit easy on Friday afternoon. With this in mind, every Friday TriplePundit will give you a fun, easy read on a topic you care about. So, take a break from those endless email threads and spend five minutes catching up on the latest trends in sustainability and business.
“This year is such a big year on climate change,” Emily Farnworth of the Climate Group, who oversees the RE100 renewable energy program, told TriplePundit during Climate Week NYC 2015. “There are a lot of businesses that want to make bold commitments to demonstrate — ahead of the negotiations in Paris — that businesses are actually very serious about tackling climate change."
A lot of businesses, indeed. Over the past few months, we've seen dozens of multinational conglomerates and mid-sized companies roll out bold commitments to tackle climate change. And, as the historic COP21 climate talks in Paris approach, we're likely to see a whole lot more in the way of corporate action.
But this week we're tipping our hats to the climate trailblazers: the leaders of the pack who aren't waiting for government to mandate climate action, but are making moves now to mitigate risk in their supply chains and help ensure a stable planet today and into the future.
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RE100 is an ambitious global campaign led by the Climate Group, in partnership with CDP, to engage, support and showcase influential businesses committed to 100 percent renewable electricity. The program launched at Climate Week 2014 with 12 big-name corporate partners, including Ikea, H&M, Nestlé and Philips, as well as Mars — the first U.S. business on board.
The firms — Amazon, DuPont, Equinix, Etsy, Intuit, Microsoft, Sealed Air, Starbucks and Starwood — signed on to the Corporate Renewable Energy Buyers’ Principles, developed by large energy buyers as a way to advance renewables and add their perspective to the future of the U.S. energy system.
Western readers will likely recognize consumer company Unilever and international investment group Virgin, but the rest may be unfamiliar: Chinese construction company Broad Group; African telecom Econet; and Brazilian cosmetics manufacturer Natura (which some may know as the largest publicly-traded B Corp).
But these firms have one thing in common: They’re all associated with the B Team, a nonprofit launched in 2013 by Sir Richard Branson and Jochen Zeitz with the aim of doing better business for both people and planet.
During Climate Week, the company announced plans to cut its carbon emissions in half by as early as 2020 and to be carbon neutral by 2030. And it’s willing to shell out more than $110 million over the next three years to make it happen.
The commitment was calculated using science-based methodologies in line with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), CEO Kendall Powell said during a Climate Week media briefing in August.
“Companies deal with risk all the time, and we get paid basically to mitigate risks,” Powell said. “So, these are actually muscles that are very well-developed in organizations … We’re very good at piecing together action plans and mitigating risk.”
Announced last year, Mesquite Creek generates 200 megawatts of wind power, enough to electrify 61,000 American homes, or the equivalent of what Mars claims is sufficient to power its entire U.S. operation.
The company, also a RE100 trailblazer, has its ear to the ground when it comes to sustainability. In addition to bold moves in its supply chain, the company prepared a detailed roadmap for how it will approach the recently adopted U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. Ready as soon as the goals were passed, the roadmap includes responses to all 17 goals.
The signatories are a mix of major food conglomerates and mid-sized companies with a known sustainability bent: Mars, General Mills, Nestle U.S., Unilever, Danone Dairy North America, Stonyfield Farm, Ben & Jerry’s, Kellogg Co., New Belgium Brewery and Clif Bar.
“Climate change is bad for farmers and for agriculture. Drought, flooding and hotter growing conditions threaten the world’s food supply and contribute to food insecurity,” the letter, which also ran in full-page ads in the Washington Post and Financial Times, stated.
Commitments range from Walgreens' decision to remove Canadian tar sands from its transportation footprint, to Coca-Cola and Pepsi's pledges to remove carbon-intensive oil -- like tar sands and Venezuelan and Nigerian crude -- from their supply chains while they develop cleaner, safer fueling solutions.
Other companies you may know from the list include eBay, Patagonia, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and Seventh Generation. Burlington, Vermont, and Bellingham, Washington, -- both near the sites of proposed tar sands projects -- also pledged to nix their use of the fuel.
The company committed to remove commodity-driven deforestation from its supply chain by 2020 and is setting ambitious greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets that align with climate science. This includes doubling-down on climate-smart agriculture practices, as well as training and partnership with suppliers, NGOs and other stakeholders around climate, which will put the company on track to meet its target of supporting the livelihoods of more than 500,000 farmers worldwide over the next 15 years.
Autodesk, Colgate Palmolive, General Mills and NRG Energy also made noise about science-based targets at Climate Week, leading an event that centered around the importance of using climate science -- rather than random numbers -- to frame corporate climate action.