Why more US companies are taking bold climate actionWe Mean Business
The last two weeks marked two historic moments in America’s movement towards a low carbon economy. The announcement of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan sent a strong policy signal to all US states and companies, showing that decarbonization is the way forward for the country. It is a major initiative for the country, which came one week after 13 major US companies made a series of pledges to act on climate as part of the White House’s launch of the American Business Act on Climate Pledge.
This set of announcements is “only the beginning”, as President Obama’s administration announced a second round of pledges with more companies this autumn.
Although US companies have been slow to make public commitments on tackling climate change relative to their European peers, the business risks resulting from climate change and the financial benefits of saving energy and switching to renewables are boardroom discussions and as a result – action is being taken.
One of the areas where many American corporates are taking the lead is going all-in on renewable energy. Many are aiming to obtain a hundred per cent of their power from renewable sources through direct investments, renewable energy purchasing, energy credits and offsets, and are setting mid- to long-term targets to ensure the final goal is reached and evaluate the results achieved throughout the years.
Tech companies are leading the way on renewable power
The tech sector has seized the opportunity presented by utilizing renewable power. They are acutely aware of the growing power demands of blooming data centers and while they select new sites for servers and development campuses costs of electricity are a big consideration. The timing couldn’t be better for renewables. Costs of solar are plummeting so that utility-scale PV projects in Western countries are cost-competitive with natural gas plants, and investment opportunities into utility scale wind projects are becoming more common practice.
Acer, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Google have all set a 100% renewable energy target and have been adapting their business strategies and short-term targets to meet the final goal.
Microsoft decided to create an internal carbon tax to spread awareness and responsibility for reducing carbon emissions across all of its operations. As its operations in the US are already carbon neutral, Microsoft has now committed to purchase 100% renewable energy for the operations of its datacenters, offices, labs and manufacturing facilities.
Google started working towards a 100% renewable target in 2007, and has so far purchased 1.1 GW of renewable energy to power its data centers. The company has now announced its commitment to purchase 3.3 GW of renewable energy by 2025.
Apple is already fully powering its US operations by renewable energy, but it has now committed to increase its clean investments and bring 280 MW of clean power online in 5 US states and in the Chinese province of Sichuan.
There are other companies moving to renewable power. Goldman Sachs, DHL and Walmart are just three of the non-tech US corporates that are implementing different strategies to power their operations fully by renewable energy.
The low carbon movement started a long time ago. But now it has taken hold in corporate America, it’s unstoppable.