Companies vs Climate Change – An Open Letter
Dear executives/fellow humans,
We find this phrase is hopeful in and of itself, for a number of reasons.
It speaks of businesses taking the issue of climate change seriously, and taking action. It speaks of commitment to a fight against climate change. And it speaks of collaboration, of companies realizing that this is not an endeavor which can be undertaken alone, adhering to the business-as-usual rules of dog-eat-dog, but rather of the need to work together to create necessary systems change.
2017 has been the year in which companies have stood up against climate change in the US. The leadership that a whole range of companies big and small have taken is encouraging. In June, 902 companies and investors had signed the commitment to say ‘We Are Still In’ in support of the Paris Climate Accord. At the time of writing, 102 companies have signed up to RE100 to commit to 100% renewable energy, and the number seems to be increasing on a weekly basis. 293 companies have committed to science-based climate action. And a number of companies have unveiled big new commitments to fight climate change, such as H&M and their commitment to being climate positive throughout its entire value chain by 2040. This raising of the bar will hopefully only encourage more companies to do the same.
So if we are agreed about the need for action, what are the types of action that need to be taken?
Here are a few examples of how companies are taking action versus climate change.
Leadership and big goals
It has been said that it is not that we lack the solutions that we need to fight climate change, it is that we need the will to implement them. And, importantly, the will to invest. Ultimately this comes down to leadership, and an understanding of the business case. Tech companies such as Google, Apple and Microsoft are among the leaders in investing in renewable energy and setting goals for 100% renewable energy because they can see the business case for doing so. And other environmental goals such as Zero Waste to Landfill, set by companies including Walgreens, a Companies vs Climate Change (CvCC) speaker, and a shift to a circular economy will not only help to reduce waste but will reduce carbon emissions as well.
Engaging all employees
It is not just the leadership who needs to be engaged. A number of the speakers at CvCC will be sharing how they have engaged their employees, including Bechtel Corporation. If companies are to succeed in meeting ambitious targets, all employees need to understand what the goals are and the part they can play in meeting them.
Involving your whole value chain
Leaders in the fight against climate change are not just looking at their own operations but how they can help to create change in the whole value chain, whether with their own suppliers or consumer behavior. For example, Walmart, another one of the speakers at CvCC, have put in place ‘Project Gigaton’, asking suppliers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by one gigaton by 2030.
Setting out a vision of a different future
Companies vs Climate Change offers in itself another opportunity. If companies are committed to fighting against climate change, there is also in itself an opportunity to define the kind of world that companies want to create. One in which there is no waste. One which is regenerative. One in which people can enjoy a better quality of life, better health, better wellbeing. Each company needs to understand what its specific contribution is that it can make, based on its business and brand strengths. DanoneWave, also speaking at CvCC, is the world’s largest Public Benefit Corporation – which means that it is required to create a positive impact on society.
In Miami, dozens of companies will be coming together to learn and share best practices about how they can work to reduce carbon emissions and to inspire each other about how they can go beyond reduction measures to create a better world. We’d love for you to join us.