Companies Can Lead On Climate Action In the Absence of Government Commitment

(3BL/Justmeans) President Trump has proved to be a president who is weak on climate action. In June, his administration announced it would withdraw from the Paris climate accord. Trump will likely continue with policies that are detrimental to the environment, but business can lead where government lags or fails.

The industrial company Ingersoll Rand is an example of a company that leads on climate action. In 2014, the company pledged what it terms a climate commitment to significantly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from its products and operations by 2030. As part of the pledge, the company will reduce the GHG refrigerant footprint of its products by 50 percent by 2020, invest $500 million into product research and development by 2020, and reduce company operations related GHG emissions by 35 percent by 2020.

So far, Ingersoll Rand has avoided 6.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent globally from its products compared to a 2013 baseline, thanks to its climate commitment. It has also reduced the GHG intensity of its operations by 23 percent, compared to 2013. The company expects to reduce its carbon footprint by 50 million metric tons by 2030.

Ingersoll Rand joined a coalition of companies in May in signing a letter published in major newspapers urging the U.S. to stay in the Paris climate accord. The letter urged Trump to keep the U.S. in the accord because “climate change presents both business risks and business opportunities.” It listed those risks and opportunities which include creating jobs, markets and growth for U.S. businesses. The letter pointed out that withdrawing from the accord will limit the access to foreign markets and even expose U.S. businesses to retaliatory measures.

Ingersoll Rand chairman and CEO MIchael Lamach spoke about his company’s climate action commitment at the IDEA 2017 conference and trade show in Scottsdale, Arizona. The company signed the letter to Trump “because we believe climate action is a global issue – one to which our customers around the world are demanding solutions, regardless of policy or regulation,” Lamach said. He added that their customers look to them for “guidance on how to reduce energy demand and GHG emissions from their buildings, industrial processes and transportation systems.”

Ingersoll Rand is not the only business to make climate action commitments. Other companies that signed the letter to Trump have made equally bold commitments. Google is one of those companies. The internet giant made a commitment to power its operations from 100 percent renewable energy, and in 2017 it will meet that goal. All of its data centers and offices will be powered by renewable energy. Google is one of largest corporate buyers of renewable energy.

Both Google and Ingersoll Rand prove that companies can lead on climate action in the absence of government commitment. Or as Lamach said, “Collectively we are blazing the trail to widespread renewable energy adoption, breakthrough technology development, innovative corporate sustainability strategies and strong employee engagement.”

Photo: Ingersoll Rand