Monday, October 5, 2015

Corporate Efforts to Reduce Greenhouse Gases

The fight against global warming is largely about reducing emissions and corporations are stepping up to the plate to do their part to keep temperatures below the 2 degree Celsius upper threshold limit.

It is becoming increasingly clear that carbon reduction makes good business sense and decoupling emissions from growth is one of the leading challenges of sustainability. We saw evidence of corporate leadership at last year's UN Climate Summit and this year we have seen dramatic carbon reduction efforts from a number of companies including GE, PG&E and Time Warner Cable.

On October 1, 2015, the CEOs of 10 global food companies jointly published a letter in the Washington Post and Financial Times in which they pledged to accelerate business action on climate change including reductions in GHGs. The signatories are the CEOs of Mars, Inc; General Mills, Unilever, Kellogg Company, NestlĂ© USA, New Belgium Brewing, Ben & Jerry’s, Clif Bar, Stonyfield Farm and Dannon USA.

The letter summarizes their climate efforts including sustainable supply chains, sharing best practices, and advocating for governments to set clear, achievable, measurable, and enforceable, science-based targets for carbon emissions reductions. They further urged the US and world leaders to form a robust international agreement at COP21 in December.

The battle to reduce emissions is hardly new in the corporate world. With the help of organizations like the WWF companies have been engaging sustainability initiatives and reducing their emissions. The WWF employs comprehensive assessment and measurement along with the development of best practices, effective benchmarks and verification.

As reported by an independent review from international energy consultancy Ecofys, between 1999 and 2011 corporations involved in WWF Climate Savers Program managed to cut 100 million tonnes of greenhouse gases. By 2020, overall emissions savings since will exceed 350 million tonnes.

Climate Savers members include Alpro, Arjowiggins Graphic, Catalyst, The Coca-Cola Company, Collins Companies, Diversey, Elopak, Eneco, Fairmont, HP, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, KPN, Lafarge, National Geographic, Natura, Nike, Nokia Siemens Networks, Novo Nordisk, Resolute Forest Products, Sofidel, Sprint, Tetra Pak, Sagawa, Sony, Supervalu, Volvo.

In 2012 the Ecofys analysis suggests that we could easily see between 500 and 1000 million tonnes of emissions reduction in the corporate sector by 2020.

However, on its own voluntary emissions reductions from the corporate world will not be able to keep us from warming more than the internationally agreed upon upper threshold limit of 2 degrees Celsius.

“Greater voluntary efforts by industry are possible and essential. But the size of the task means it cannot be accomplished solely by voluntary business action. Governments have to strengthen the international policy framework to mandate deeper emission reductions,” said Alexander Quarles van Ufford, Senior Partnerships Manager at WWF International.

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