By Anna Wendt, Account Executive
Last week, young people from all over the world marched to shed light on the urgency of climate change, with “climate strikes” in over 150 countries. Several brands, like Ben & Jerry’s*, Patagonia, Seventh Generation and Lush supported these demonstrations by encouraging customers and employees to participate in their local marches. This set the stage as leaders from around the world convened for Climate Week 2019 and the United Nations General Assembly, which kicked off in New York City on Monday, September 23rd.
With climate change at the forefront of media this week, several companies took the opportunity to share efforts in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, designing with circularity in mind, increasing renewable energy usage and investing with an impact in mind. Here are some of the announcements that broke through this week:
· Leading by Example: In an effort to further reduce its impact and build on its sustainable foundation, Mars* announced its #PledgeForPlanet initiative this week. Part of this new announcement is a commitment to reducing GHG emissions from its direct operations to be in line with the ambitious aim of the Paris Agreement to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius by switching to 100 percent renewable energy. Mars is also paving the way for its suppliers by calling on them to set Science-Based Targets and sign onto The Climate Group’s RE100 to adopt 100% renewable electricity.
· Incorporating Innovative Solutions: Nike continues to bring new ideas to the table to address sustainability issues, focusing its latest efforts on the Move to Zero. This strategic plan outlines how Nike will eliminate single-use plastics across its campuses, invest in circular product design and powering facilities to operate with net-zero carbon emissions and 100 percent renewable energy. To help educate its employee base, Nike has created an exhibit in its headquarters to share impacts of global warming on sports as part of a study with the Climate Impact Lab.
· Major Companies Embrace Renewables: This month, Google made a major move on the journey to a sustainable economy by announcing the largest corporate purchase of renewable energy in history. This purchase comes to light in 18 new deals across the globe, including investments in the United States, Chile and Europe.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos also announced Amazon’s commitment to meeting the terms of the Paris Agreement 10 years ahead of schedule, with a goal to be carbon neutral by 2040. To reach this target, Amazon has purchased 100,000 electric vans to reduce the amount of fossil fuel powered vans currently used for its deliveries.
· Defining Responsible Banking: The United Nations launched a new framework to help banks consider the societal impact of their loans and portfolio, with participating banks including Deutsche Bank, Citigroup and Barclays. The standards were created collaboratively with UN officials and bank representatives.
· Tackling Deforestation: HP committed $11M this week to help restore forests in Brazil and China the size of New York City (200,000 acres). This is the latest step to creating a forest positive future for printing and supporting science-based targets for forest conservation.
Danone CEO Emmanuel Faber announced the launch of the One Planet Business for Biodiversity (#OP2B) coalition in partnership with the WBCSD – World Business Council for Sustainable Development: a call for collective action for biodiversity. Along with 19 other companies, Danone pledges to scale up regenerative agriculture practices, develop product portfolios to boost cultivated biodiversity and eliminate deforestation and enhance the management of ecosystems.
Now more than ever before, climate has reached the top of the agenda – for individuals, governments and companies alike. The latest climate strikes and noise around this moment in time only reinforces the importance of companies committing and taking action to address climate change.