Not moving fast or far enough has been a rallying cry during Climate Week, with young activists suing carbon-polluting countries over the climate crisis, and UN Secretary-General António Guterres demanding “a climate action summit, not a climate talk summit.”
This week food products giant Mars Inc. made clear it was listening, announcing its new #PledgeForPlanet initiative to further reduce GHG emissions from its direct operations in line with the most ambitious aim of the Paris Agreement – to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCCC) warned of catastrophic consequences should global warming exceed 1.5°C.
The march to aggressive climate targets
Mars joins 28 companies with a total market capitalization of $1.3 trillion that are also stepping up by committing to setting 1.5°C climate targets. First movers include Acciona, AstraZeneca, Banka BioLoo, BT, Dalmia Cement Ltd., Eco-Steel Africa Ltd., Enel, Iberdrola, KLP, Levi Strauss & Co., Mahindra Group, Natura &Co, Novozymes, Royal DSM, SAP, Signify, Singtel, Telefonica, Telia, Unilever, Vodafone Group PLC and Zurich Insurance, among others, collectively representing over one million employees from 15 sectors and more than 15 countries.
Of the 28 companies, BT, Levi Strauss & Co. and SAP already have 1.5°C-aligned reduction targets covering greenhouse gas emissions from their operations.
Notably, according to Carbon Tracker, none of the large oil companies are “Paris aligned.”
Suppliers asked to join Mars on the Pledge
In addition to ramping up GHG emissions reduction in its own operations, as part of "Pledge for Planet" campaign, Mars is calling on all its suppliers to participate in this program by:
- Setting science-based targets.
- Signing on to The Climate Group’s RE100 (a global corporate leadership initiative bringing together influential businesses committed to 100 percent renewable electricity).
- Embracing a future with renewable energy at the center of plans for direct operations.
Taking action on renewables and reducing emissions
A decade ago, Mars committed to achieve 100 percent renewable energy in its operations by 2040 and today is more than halfway towards that goal. In recent years, the company has been more aggressive in its drive to meet these goals.
In 2017, Mars announced a $1 billion Sustainable Generation Plan to fight climate change; part of that promise included more investments in wind and solar installations worldwide. The company also promised to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 27 percent by 2025 and 67 percent by 2050.
The Pledge for Planet initiative is designed to accelerate the pace of those commitments. And it’s important to keep in mind what’s driving Mars to take on these challenges; after all, this is a legacy company that is still privately-owned and as such, does not have to answer to shareholders (and quite frankly, most stakeholders) to the degree a publicly-owned company is expected.
Mars CEO Grant F. Reid said in a press release: “Climate change is a real and tangible threat to society. For example, in our business, we already see it in the risk to livelihoods for smallholder farmers who provide most of our raw ingredients.”
“Risks to the resiliency and sustainability of our supply chain and the future of the farmers we work with is top of mind,” Reid added. “But, as a family business that thinks in generations and aspires to make a positive difference in the world, our responsibilities and our ambitions go beyond risk mitigation. We are committed to doing our part for the good of the planet.”
On its website, Mars also invites individual action to protect the planet as part of its Pledge, with ten areas of actions such as driving less, buying local produce, bringing reusable bags to the store, reducing waste and unplugging electronics.
According to Reid, Mars is “inspired by the youth movement demanding climate action and the role of all of us as individuals in driving change.”
TriplePundit is covering the U.N. General Assembly and Climate Week NYC through the weekend. You can follow our coverage here.
Image credit: David Greenwood-Haigh/Pixabay
Based in Florida, Amy has covered sustainability for over 25 years, including for TriplePundit, Reuters Sustainable Business and Ethical Corporation Magazine. She also writes sustainability reports and thought leadership for companies. She is the ghostwriter for Sustainability Leadership: A Swedish Approach to Transforming Your Company, Industry and the World. Connect with Amy on LinkedIn and her Substack newsletter focused on gray divorce, caregiving and other cultural topics.