5 multinationals stepping up on climate actionWe Mean Business coalition
Of the 660+ companies committed to bold climate action through the We Mean Business coalition’s Take Action campaign, many are going further and faster to help bend the curve of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. We spoke to BT, Ingersoll Rand, Mars, Unilever and HP Inc about their progress in harnessing climate action as a driver of innovation, competitiveness, risk management and growth.
BT on driving progress
BT has increased the ambition of its science-based target to bring its climate goals in line with the aim to limit global warming to 1.5°C. The communications services company’s updated goal is to reduce carbon emissions intensity by 87% by 2030, having hit its 2020 target four years ahead of schedule. In the same timeframe, BT is also aiming to cut carbon emissions from its supply chain by 29%.
“We’re doing this because it drives efficiencies within our business, so we’re saving on our energy costs and we’re also looking at the revenue opportunity,” Gabrielle Ginér, Head of Sustainable Business Policy at BT, said.
BT has saved over £220 million since 2009 thanks to energy efficiency improvements driven by the company’s carbon reduction targets. Meanwhile, BT has developed a portfolio of products and services, such as video conferencing and smart transport solutions, that help customers reduce their own emissions. That portfolio was worth £5.3 billion in 2016, which was 22% of BT’s total revenues.
“We want to be a sustainable and responsible business leader, we want to look at the future of our supply chain and our business,” Ginér said, adding: “This is the right thing to do.”
Ingersoll Rand on global impact
Ingersoll Rand is well on the way to achieving its bold science-based target. The industrial manufacturer has already managed to avoid 6.7 million tons of CO2 equivalent emissions – roughly what it takes to power all the homes in a city the size of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the US.
“We’re taking this seriously, we account for this on a quarterly basis and I can say through 2016 we’re actually on or ahead of pace to hit our 2020 targets,” Jeffrey Moe, Global Director Product Advocacy, Center for Energy Efficiency and Sustainability, at Ingersoll Rand said.
Ingersoll Rand is already halfway to achieving its 50% reduction in GHG emissions for its refrigerants portfolio by 2020, from a 2013 baseline, and has managed to reduce its own GHG emissions by 16% as it works towards its target of a 35% reduction by 2020. The company has also set aside $500 million to invest in new products and solutions that helps its climate efforts.
In terms of global impact, Moe pointed out that Ingersoll Rand’s emissions target for its refrigerants portfolio could result in a “4-8% global reduction in greenhouse gas emissions through this one industry.”
“Imagine we have half a dozen companies acting as we are in each of their respective sectors – transportation, food production and delivery – these six companies we can truly help change the world, we can truly help mitigate climate change.”
Mars on collective action
Mars is pushing ahead with its science-based targets and 100% renewable electricity commitment through RE100, brought to you by The Climate Group in partnership with CDP. The global food and beverage giant is going further and attempting to “transform agriculture” and calling on the entire business community to pull together to help limit global warming to well below 2°C.
“We’ve got about 150 factories around the world, and we’re moving from fossil fuels to renewable energy in each of them as fast as we can. We already have 100% renewable electricity use in the US and UK and by the end of 2018 we’ll have that in 11 countries around the world,” Barry Parkin, Chief Sustainability Officer at Mars, said.
“But beyond our own operations, we’re trying to transform agriculture. 70% of our carbon footprint is tied into agriculture through about a million farmers around the world. We’re working with farmers to develop new methods and higher productivity farming that sequesters more carbon so that they can become real agents of change,” he said.
Parkin said to think of the smallholder farmers of the world as the ‘heroes of climate action’ in the future. “They are going to help us on this journey and in doing so they are going to boost their incomes and become more resilient,” he said.
“All of the business community needs to pull together on climate action, just as all countries need to pull together too. We’ll only collectively achieve the under 2°C target if everybody works on this together. We’ve set bold science-based targets across our whole value chain; we need everybody to do that. Every company needs to think about their entire footprint and set a science-based target to reduce it,” he added.
Unilever on stepping up
The Paris Agreement has given a clear signal to decarbonize the global economy, said Paul Polman, CEO of the consumer goods multinational.
This has ignited activities in the private sector as companies seek to capture the enormous opportunities available, while financial markets are also driving change through initiatives such as putting a price on carbon, the divestment movement and the green bonds market, he said.
“Where we need to focus on, now more than ever, is to set our ambitions higher and to scale for impact,” Polman said. “There’s lots of proof we can do this – what we now need is the leadership and the willpower to make it happen.”
“In order to accelerate the move to decarbonizing our global economy, it is obviously very important that we disclose the carbon-related risks, increasingly demanded by our investor community,” he said.
He added that both companies and countries need to put a price on carbon to help level the playing field and drive deeper decarbonization.
HP Inc on leadership
David Eichberg, Sustainability and Social Innovation at HP Inc, highlighted the vital need of leadership from the businesses to tackle the issue of climate change.
“At HP we believe that climate change is one of the most significant and urgent issues facing society today. And businesses, including HP, need to play a leading role in helping drive progress towards a circular and low-carbon economy,” he said.
“We believe that more than just being our responsibility to take action on climate, that it is vital to the long-term success of our own business and also the success of our customers.”