The Role of Business In Climate Change Action

President Trump has made it clear that environmental issues, including climate change, are not important to his administration. He appointed the CEO of ExxonMobil as the Secretary of State  and a man who sued the EPA 14 times to head the agency. Climate change is an environmental issue that Trump has repeatedly said he does not even believe occurs. However, many businesses not only believe in climate change but are working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

When the government fails, business can succeed. And when it comes to climate change, many businesses are taking action. Back in August, companies and investors taking part in the We Mean Business coalition’s campaign made 1,000 commitments to take action on climate change. There are 688 companies and investors in total that have made commitments. 

A price on carbon is one of the actions that We Mean Business encourages companies to take. There are a number of companies that have set an internal price of carbon. Microsoft is one of them. For Microsoft, an internal carbon fee is part of their aim to be 100 percent carbon neutral, something it achieved in June 2012. Its carbon neutral strategy is based on accountability throughout the company through the internal carbon fee. The carbon fee helps make the company’s different business divisions responsible for the carbon emissions from their air travel and electricity use. Since the internal carbon fee was implemented in 2012, Microsoft has reduced its emissions by 9.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent and purchased over 14 billion kilowatt hours of renewable energy.

Another action that We Mean Business encourages companies to take is to eliminate commodity driven deforestation from all supply chains by 2020. One company committed to eliminating deforestation from its supply chains is Unilever. Since the company is the largest single buyer of palm oil in the world, buying three percent of the world’s palm oil, it focuses on palm oil sourcing. The goal is to source palm oil that is traceable and certified sustainable. 

Reducing short lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) is something that We Mean Business thinks companies should do as part of climate change action. SLCPs include methane black carbon, tropospheric ozone or hydrofluorocarbons. Reducing them can significantly contribute to climate change mitigation by 2050. Although they stay in the atmosphere a shorter time than carbon, they have a warming potential that is greater. Climate experts think that reducing SLCPs is key to keeping the global temperature rise to two degrees Celsius. A number of companies have committed to reducing SLCPs, including Volvo, Deutsch Post DHL, IKEA and HP. 

Companies like Unilever, Microsoft and those taking action to reduce SLCPs have an opportunity now to lead the way in fighting climate change. They can show that it is possible to take climate action and still turn a profit. 

Photo: Unilever