Businesses must take a strong leadership role in terms of clean energy and climate change in order to advance a thriving economy, wrote Tom Murray, VP of EDF+Business in Forbes yesterday. Murray says that a thriving economy actually depends on a thriving environment, and that US businesses must take the lead now that the current administration is striving to shift environmental protections.
Corporate sustainability has gone from simple operational efficiencies to global supply chain collaborations over the past 25 years, he wrote. The EDF encourages businesses to continue to raise the bar and offers three suggestions.
First, think big, set goals, drive innovation, achieve big results, and tell the world. Meaningful business results can be delivered when businesses commit to aggressive, science-based sustainability goals.
Walmart’s director of energy and operations sustainability Joby Carlson, for example, told Energy Manager Today that the company strives “not to do anything that doesn’t have a good financial return. Sustainability has to hit the balance among the economics, the environmental, and the social side. Energy efficiency has been our bread and butter. We are a low-cost retailer so we are sensitive about the cost of operations. Optimizing and reducing our energy demand has translated into millions and millions [in savings].” In the case of the company’s trucking fleet, it is saving a billion dollars a year based on fuel efficiency compared with 2005, he said.
The next step in raising the bar for continuing to support clean energy is to collaborate with others in order to scale their efforts. By combining business practices with other companies and organizations, businesses can drive efficiencies and boost the bottom line.
For example, General Motors announced last week that it will seek to source only sustainable rubber for tires, not just within its own supply chain but across the industry. The automaker is working with Bridgestone, Continental, Goodyear and Michelin to “solve the challenges of transparency and traceability in a complex value chain,” GM’s senior VP of global purchasing and supply chain told Environmental Leader. By working with its supply base to source sustainable tires in a strategic, collaborative way, he said, the company can ensure volume meets growing global demand through improved yields, Environmental Leader wrote last week.
Finally, Murray says, businesses should publicly continue to support climate change policy. So far, large corporations have seemed eager to do so. “It’s imperative that businesses take an active role in meeting the goals set out by the Paris Climate Agreement,” said Anna Walker, senior director of global policy and advocacy at Levi Strauss & Co. earlier this month. “It will be critical that we work together to ensure the US maintains its climate leadership, ultimately ensuring our nation’s long-term economic prosperity.” And such companies as Apple, Amazon, Google and Microsoft have responded to positively to continued support of the climate pact, saying that carbon reduction strategies would boost investment in renewable energy while beefing up American competitiveness, innovation and job growth.
Just after Trump was elected, 365 companies ranging from Nike to Levi Strauss to General Electric sent the president a letter emphasizing their commitment to reducing heat-trapping emissions.