How Businesses are Responding to Climate Change

(3BL Media/JustMeans) Does the business world care about climate change? A 2015 survey by CDP asked businesses several questions about a global climate agreement. What they found is that over 800 of the world’s largest companies favored a global deal to tackle climate change. 

The business world has a tremendous opportunity to contribute to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG emissions). The world’s 500 largest companies are responsible for over 10 percent of global GHG emissions, and the top 50 firms account for 79 percent of those emissions. 

In December, as countries hammered out a climate agreement in Paris, the Science Based Targets initiative announced that 114 companies have committed to set emissions reduction targets that will help keep global temperature rise below the threshold of two degrees Celsius. The participating companies have combined annual emissions of at least 476 million tons of carbon dioxide, which is equivalent to South Africa’s annual emissions. They represent at least $932 billion in total combined profits, greater than Indonesia’s GDP. 

A number of companies, ranging from clothing to food and everything in between, are doing their part to tackle climate change. One of those companies is Gap Inc. which announced a goal to reduce its absolute GHG emissions globally across its facilities by 50 percent by 2020. Gap began to reduce its carbon footprint back in 2003, with the goal of decreasing GHG emissions by 11 percent per square foot from 2003 to 2008 in its U.S. operations. It exceeded that goal by achieving a 20 percent reduction per square foot, so it set a goal of reducing GHG emissions by 20 percent by 2015. The clothing retailer also exceeded that goal by achieving a 33 percent reduction. 

Gap has worked with Ceres since 2007 and is a member of Ceres’ Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy (BICEP), a group of over 20 companies committed to passing climate change and energy legislation. In 2014, Gap signed the BICEP Climate Declaration, which states that “tackling climate change is one of America’s greatest economic opportunities of the 21st century.”

Kellogg Company is another company that is committed to reducing its emissions. It has a goal of reducing its emissions intensity, or a ton of carbon dioxide emissions per ton of food produced, by 2020. It is also committed to reducing absolute value chain emissions by 20 percent from 2015 to 2030. Kellogg has long-term goals of an absolute reduction in emissions by 65 percent by 2050, and to reduce absolute value chain emissions by 50 percent from 2015 to 2050. The company has already reduced its scope 1 and 2 emissions from manufacturing by 12 percent. It is also a signatory of the BICEP Climate Declaration. 

As companies like Gap and Kellogg meet their emissions reduction targets, the world will be closer to keeping global temperature rise to the two degree threshold. And that is good for the planet and its inhabitants.

Photo: Flickr/Lloyd Chapman