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3p Weekend: 60+ Companies Going All-In on Climate

Mary Mazzoni headshotWords by Mary Mazzoni
Leadership & Transparency
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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.

Want to stay up-to-date on all the latest climate news in the lead-up to COP21? Follow TriplePundit's custom COP21 hashtag, #GoParis, on Twitter to make sure you don't miss a beat. You can also use the hashtag to share your questions, concerns, comments, news and ideas surrounding COP21.

Additionally, we’ll pose a new question of the week (or QOTW in Twitter-speak) around COP21, with hashtag #GoParis. The conversation’s already begun!

Nine Fortune 500s pledge to go 100 percent renewable ...


During Climate Week, nine top firms — Goldman Sachs, Johnson & Johnson, Nike, Procter & Gamble, Salesforce, Starbucks, Steelcase, Voya Financial, and Walmart — joined the RE100 initiative, pledging to work toward 100 percent renewables.

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.

... And nine more lend their voices to a changing energy system


Wednesday, Sept. 23, turned out to be a big day for Climate Week -- and for bold corporate commitments on renewables. A few hours after Fortune 500 companies signed on with RE100, pledging to work toward 100 percent renewable energy, nine more took their own action on the clean-tech front, in partnership with the World Resources Institute and WWF.

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.

Five multinationals pledge to go net zero by 2050

Adding to the growing momentum at Climate Week, five global companies pledged to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. For those unfamiliar with the term, net zero refers to limiting global carbon emissions to the point where they balance the world’s ability to absorb that CO2. In the context of business supply chains, this involves measuring emissions released against emissions saved through things like renewable energy projects, reforestation and offsets. It’s a goal they call bold but necessary if we are to limit temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius.

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.

Siemens pledges to go carbon neutral


Many companies linked up with NGOs and business coalitions to structure and announce their climate commitments. Others, like global industrial giant Siemens, set off on their own.

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.

General Mills cuts emissions from farm to fork (and beyond)


A big wave of corporate climate commitments rolled out during and after Climate Week, and continue to break as COP21 approaches. But General Mills kicked off the trend in late August, announcing a commitment to reduce absolute greenhouse gas emissions by 28 percent across its full value chain – from farm to fork to landfill – over the next 10 years.

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.”

Mars' U.S. operations switch to wind power


Mars, best known for trick-or-treat-ready candies like M&Ms and Snickers, is also taking on some compelling projects it says will make the company much more “sustainable in a generation.” One example of Mars’ investments in sustainability is the Mesquite Creek Wind Farm in western Texas.

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.

CEOs of 10 major food companies demand climate action


Early this month in Washington, D.C., 10 major food companies — coordinated by Ceres and led by Mars — released a letter to U.S. and global leaders calling for action on climate change.

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.

21 companies pledge to clean up their transportation footprints


At the close of Climate Week, 21 major companies -- and two U.S. cities -- linked up with ForestEthics to clean up their transportation footprints.

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.

Kellogg steps up on deforestation


Kellogg made big moves during Climate Week this year. It was one of 10 signatories of a letter demanding climate action on the part of global officials. It joined the We Mean Business Coalition (WMB), launched at Climate Week NYC 2014 to help businesses and investors rally around climate action. And, in partnership with WMB, the company behind our favorite breakfast cereals is going hard against deforestation.

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.

Global companies get real with science-based targets


We've already mentioned that a few companies on our list aligned their commitments with science-based targets. But they're far from the only firms that are realizing commitments are nothing unless they're based on climate science -- and unless they're truly enough to help us stay below a 2 degrees Celsius temperature rise.

Coca-Cola pledged to cut its emissions from operations by 50 percent from 2007 levels by 2020. Procter & Gamble said it would cut its emissions from operations by 30 percent from 2010 levels by 2020.

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.

Image credits: 1) Flickr/Peter Bowden 2) Flickr/Peter Bowden 3) Flickr/Tony Webster

Mary Mazzoni headshotMary Mazzoni

Mary Mazzoni, Senior Editor, has written for TriplePundit since 2013. She is also Managing Editor of CR Magazine and the Editor of 3p’s Sponsored Series. Mazzoni’s recent work can be found in Conscious CompanyAlterNet and VICE’s Motherboard. She is based in Philadelphia, PA.

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