As the world focuses on the Coronavirus pandemic, crises like climate change continue to pose a real threat to humanity — one that we won’t solve with a vaccine or cure.
Thankfully progressive industries and governments are well on their way to taking real action on climate change. Research shows that 23 percent of the world’s top companies have made a public commitment that they are (or will be by 2030) carbon neutral, using 100 percent renewable power, or meeting a science-based internal emission reduction target. This represents an increase of almost 300 percent since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015.
Climate action is no longer a philanthropic endeavor that ticks a corporate, social responsibility box — it actually makes commercial sense. Every stakeholder, from employees and potential candidates to customers and investors, wants to know a company’s stance on carbon reduction. As such, it’s only a matter of time before the other three-quarters follow suit.
In this blog post, we look at five companies that are making good on their carbon reduction or carbon-neutral promises:
1. Microsoft will be Carbon Negative by 2030
Microsoft is not just committing to becoming carbon neutral by 2030, it also intends to remove all the carbon created directly or indirectly by its products since the company was founded in 1975 by the year 2050!
The company has a clear path to the goal that it has committed to. It has launched an aggressive program to cut carbon emissions by more than half by 2030 — both for direct emissions and for its entire supply and value chain — by expanding its internal carbon fee to start charging for all emissions by July 2020.
By July 2021, Microsoft will also launch an initiative to use Microsoft technology to help suppliers and customers around the world reduce their own carbon footprints and introduce a new $1 billion climate innovation fund to accelerate the global development of carbon reduction, capture, and removal technologies. This will make carbon reduction an explicit aspect of its procurement processes for its supply chain.
Microsoft intends to keep the public updated on the status of these commitments in a new annual Environmental Sustainability Report that will launch in 2020.
2. CEMEX to Deliver Net Zero Concrete by 2050
CEMEX invests in energy efficiency, the use of alternative fuels, expanding use of renewable energy, and increasing clinker substitution through alternative cementitious materials and technologies. To date, these efforts have helped CEMEX to achieve a significant reduction of more than 22 percent of net specific carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions compared to a 1990 baseline.
Taking things a step further, the company announced its commitment to reducing 35 percent of CO₂ net emissions by 2030. Its ambitions strategy also includes the delivery of net-zero CO₂ concrete by 2050, which will contribute to the development of climate-smart urban projects, sustainable buildings, and climate-resilient infrastructures.
CEMEX is not the only concrete producer to take positive action on climate change. In 2019, LafargeHolcim introduced its first carbon-neutral concrete in key markets and had its 2030 target of 520 kg per ton validated externally by the Science Based Targets initiative and Heidelberg Cement committed to reducing its carbon footprint by 30 percent by 2030. These companies offer just a small snapshot of what is becoming an industry-wide trend.
3. LinkedIn’s Commitment to 75 Percent Carbon Reduction Starts with its Buildings
LinkedIn is making meaningful progress to achieve its sustainability goals, including 100 percent renewable energy and a 75 percent reduction in carbon emissions.
According to CNN, it’s starting from the ground up — literally. To reduce the carbon footprint of LinkedIn’s new 245,000-square-foot campus headquarters in Mountain View, California, the company opted to build with concrete made with the CarbonCure Technology.
The CarbonCure Technology injects waste carbon dioxide (CO₂) into fresh concrete while it's being mixed. Once injected into the concrete mix, the CO₂ chemically converts into a mineral, increasing the compressive strength of the concrete and permanently eliminating the CO₂. This strength gain enables the reduction of cement content in concrete mix designs while still maintaining its strength and performance.
LinkedIn’s new, green headquarters will open in 2021 and have space for 1,000 employees.
4. Walmart to Reduce Emissions by 18 Percent by 2025
Walmart was the first retailer to set an emissions-reduction plan approved by the Science-Based Targets initiative, in alignment with the Paris Climate Agreement.
Its plan aims to reduce operational emissions by 18 percent by 2025 from 2015 levels. It outlined a clear path to achieving this reduction through a combination of measures such as increased energy efficiency in its buildings and trucks, transitioning to renewable energy sources, and improvements in refrigerants management.
The company also launched an ambitious initiative, Project Gigaton, that outlines how it is working with suppliers to reduce supply chain emissions by 1 gigaton CO₂ equivalent in the production and use of food and products globally between 2015 and 2030.
This reduction would be equivalent to taking more than 211 million passenger vehicles off roads and highways for a year. The company will hold itself accountable to these targets in its annual Global Responsibility Report which will document its progress.
5. The Environment is a Key Stakeholder at Salesforce
Salesforce considers the environment to be one of its key stakeholders and publishes a Stakeholder Impact Report annually that holds the company accountable to its environmental initiatives.
Salesforce achieved net-zero greenhouse gas emissions globally in 2017. Its multi-tenant cloud computing model has a much smaller environmental footprint than traditional IT hardware and software as it shares computing resources among a large number of customers to achieve enormous economies of scale, especially when it comes to carbon and energy consumption.
As such, Salesforce delivers a completely carbon neutral cloud by offsetting the emissions it cannot reduce through multi-tenancy and other operational sustainability initiatives. The company is also working to achieve 100 percent renewable energy for global operations.
Employees and Customers Want to Know What Companies are Doing
Carbon neutrality is becoming a standard business practice for many — and it’s not just for the big corporations featured in this post.
Startups and small to medium-sized businesses are reducing their carbon footprints too.
These businesses are measuring their carbon emissions for regular business operations, manufacturing their products, employee travel, and even the materials used to build their offices or stores. And they’re aiming to reduce them to zero.
For the three-quarters of Fortune 500 companies that have yet to start this journey, the time to start is now.