U.S. businesses are serious about addressing climate change. “We’re seeing that [commitment] in many, many ways,” says Todd Stern, U.S. special envoy for climate change.
Eighty-one ways recently.
Just as world leaders were set to gather in Paris for the U.N. conference of parties, known as COP21, to discuss climate action, that many companies — 81 — representing more than $3 trillion in annual revenue expressed support for a global agreement.
They not only look for a successful Paris summit. They #ActOnClimate every day through their business operations, while looking to their own profits and boosting the U.S. economy.
Apple Inc., the world’s largest tech company and maker of the iPhone, is taking a bite out of its carbon emissions. Since 2011, it’s lowered emissions per product and expanded use of renewable energy. Today, 100 percent of Apple’s U.S. operations and data centers run on renewables, some of which it purchases from producers. It plans to produce 280 megawatts of its own clean power by 2017.
Other tech companies, such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Intel, include renewable energy in their plans.
Bank of America
One of the largest banks in the world, Bank of America recently has accelerated its investments in environmental business. After committing to invest $20 billion in low-carbon enterprises in 2007, it fulfilled the goal four years ahead of schedule. Subsequently, it nearly tripled its commitment, pledging to invest $125 billion in green business by 2025.
Other finance firms support a transition to a low-carbon economy. Goldman Sachs, for instance, has mobilized $33 billion for solar, wind, smart grid and other clean technologies.
General Electric Company had a bright idea in 2005: Build environmental research and development into its business model. “Ecomagination” investments, worth $15 billion, have influenced its product designs, from light bulbs to jet engines, while producing $200 billion in revenue since 2005.
PepsiCo Inc., maker of snacks and beverages, uses technology to reduce its carbon footprint and water usage. On farms that supply ingredients, the company’s “i-crop” system of sensors tells farmers when water is needed, saving resources while improving yields. The company recently pledged to expand sustainable farming to 500,000 acres of North American farmland.
The Walt Disney Company knows climate change is no fairy tale. The company put an internal price on all emissions, ensuring that its executives consider greenhouse-gas emissions as a cost in every business decision. Disney pledges to reduce emissions 50 percent from 2012 levels by 2020.
In addition to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, American chocolate maker Hershey’s is finding sustainable ways to obtain palm oil, an important ingredient whose cultivation can cause deforestation.
Hershey’s — along with Mars, General Mills, Kellogg’s, McDonald’s, Cargill, and Procter & Gamble — pledges to purchase palm oil in a way that preserves forests.