Corporations around the world are taking dramatic actions to impact our climate. More ambitious than ever, the focus goes way beyond reducing our carbon footprint, pushing for net zero emissions and even becoming carbon negative.
States and regions, cities, businesses and investors are leading the charge on pushing down global emissions by 2020, setting the stage to reach net zero emissions by 2050. The power is within all those focused on these goals to come together on a global-scope to affect change. In many cases, the most effective efforts may be on a local level, from state governments and businesses down to individuals and their purchasing power. Buyers have the power to create change by influencing suppliers and the supply chain.
The recent Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco showcased achievements already made to reduce emissions and secured bold commitments to do even more. A long list of CEOs and senior executives from major companies (including Interface) discussed transformational changes to help turn the tide in the race against climate change. Here are some examples of just a few:
- Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson kicked off the Summit, announcing the company’s Green Stores Framework to create 10,000 more sustainable stores (new or refurbished) around the globe by 2025. Eventually planned for all Starbucks properties, this new initiative will reduce water and energy usage and tackle food waste. Experts including SCS Global Services and World Wildlife Fund have provided assistance with this program.
- Marc Benioff of Salesforce announced the company’s energy would be 100% renewable by 2022. He also introduced the Step Up Declaration, “a new alliance dedicated to harnessing the power of emerging technologies and the fourth industrial revolution to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions across all economic sectors … by 2020.” The declaration has been signed by 21 companies, including HP, Autodesk, Bloomberg, Uber, Lyft, WeWork and BT.
- Ride-sharing company Lyft announced plans to purchase enough renewable energy to offset its rides, as well as all its operations. Where possible, the company also plans to source clean energy directly from local utility partners.
- McDonald’s discussed its new Science-Based Target to lower greenhouse-gas emissions 36 percent below 2015 levels by 2030, as well as an initiative to include sustainably sourced beef in its supply chain.
- IKEA CEO Jesper Brodin outlined the company’s plans to use electric vehicles for home deliveries in six cities by 2020 and throughout the world by 2030.
- Interface CEO Jay Gould announced that the company is committing to be carbon negative by 2040, as part of the Climate Take Back program.
To reach such ambitious objectives, it’s critical for businesses to find ways to talk to policy-makers about their carbon goals. This includes working closely with cities and mayors local governments, which actually may have more power to create change than federal or regional governments.
“The commitments we heard at the Global Climate Action Summit were new and bigger than ever, and an impressive number of new alliances and coalitions were announced,” says Interface Chief Sustainability Officer Erin Meezan. “But I’d stop short of calling it a turning point only because the corporate vision collectively still seems focused on carbon neutral or net zero carbon – and that’s just not ambitious enough. So, I think a turning point will be the day we have many CEOs saying what ours did: we need to aim higher, go further and state our target is reversal. We’re not there yet, but that day is coming, and I hope we’re part of pushing the corporate world closer to that.”