Setting Visionary Targets: IKEA Group CEO Peter Agnefjäll talks with Christiana Figueres at Climate Week NYC
“We want to have a positive impact. We want to grow in a way that is people and planet positive,” Peter Agnefjäll told Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change during a panel discussion at Climate Week NYC to launch the We Mean Business coalition.
What role could IKEA play in ‘democratizing no-carbon’ by reaching consumers and helping socialize low carbon thinking and behavior? Agreeing that reaching the mass market rather than an elite few was critical. Peter expanded on IKEA’s approach to ensure their products appeal to customers as well as have good functionality, design, value and beauty. Products also need to be built to last and affordable to the many people and deliver a net positive impact on people and the environment, he added.
Then the conversation turned to policy and whether short term cuts or long-term zero net emissions targets would be best for business.
Peter’s response was clear: “Why compromise? I think we could actually do both. What we need from [policy makers] is bold commitments in which direction we should develop society.
He also emphasized that business is ready for a challenge saying, “We’re fine if [policy makers] come up with things that are quite tough to reach…We really need clear signals.”
When asked whether it would be appropriate for policy makers to set long-term targets even without know how they could be achieved, Peter was resolute in his reply – yes.
He went on to add, “We decided that we should go 100% renewable, we didn’t really know how to do that, but we had a bold objective and you start to think ‘how can we do this?’ about where you need to be by 2015 and 2017…You set clear roadmaps and one step leads to another and suddenly you are going there.”
IKEA has already invested heavily in solar and in wind energy with 700,000 PV solar panels and 224 wind turbines powering their offices.
The bottom line for the CEO: “That’s the role of leaders – to set visionary targets.
At the same time, he was quick to point out that he didn’t have all the answers and that cooperating with other businesses, both to share experiences and learn from peers, was critical to IKEA as they make progress.