Collaborating to Achieve Climate Leadership

September 18, 2017
  • Emilie Prattico

    Former Manager, BSR

This week, leaders from around the globe will converge in New York City to participate in the conversation about the UN Sustainable Development Goals and our climate future.

Corporate climate action has been on the rise for a few years now: Since We Mean Business launched in 2014, 596 companies have made 1,030 climate commitments; almost 300 of those are commitments to set science-based targets for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions.

For the world’s largest companies, climate action increasingly means collaboration. As ambitious as these companies are, they cannot reach their GHG emissions reduction goals without forging partnerships in their value chains and beyond. Moreover, they are finding that collaboration can reap benefits beyond emissions reductions.

This past June, BSR and CDP convened 19 companies in Stockholm to share their insights on the value of partnerships in reducing GHG emissions. Stora Enso, who hosted the event in its new innovation center in the Swedish capital, demonstrated how its own climate programs are driven by deep collaboration. The company, a leading provider of renewable solutions in packaging, biomaterials, wooden constructions, and paper, has entered into many fruitful public and private partnerships in support of its climate ambitions, including the following:

  • 13 of its mills provide biofuels to local municipal district heating systems.
  • In Belgium, its Langerbrugge mill is helping Volvo Car Gent cut CO2 emissions via a district heating connection that uses industrial waste for energy production.
  • The company’s Montes del Plata pulp mill produces electricity from biomass and delivers five percent of Uruguay’s annual consumption to the national grid.
  • Stora Enso has entered a Carbon Pact with Maersk Line to jointly reduce their GHG emissions.

These types of partnerships were a common theme in the discussion around the table—Electrolux, IKEA Group, and H&M, for instance, also shared their own experiences collaborating, with suppliers in particular, to pursue ambitious emissions reduction goals.

Other recent major climate announcements have similarly strong collaboration components. For example, Mars announced that it will spend US$1 billion in the coming years to tackle sustainability issues, including climate change. Specifically, Mars will focus on its supply chain, acting on the words of CEO Mark Reid, that “We must work together, because the engine of global business—its supply chain—is broken, and requires transformational, cross-industry collaboration to fix it.” Mars already had goals in place to reach net zero emissions within its own operations by 2040, but under its new “Sustainable in a Generation” plan (which will complement existing targets), the company has committed to reduce emissions across its value chains by 67 percent by 2050.

Last year, Walmart—the world’s largest employer and largest company in the world by revenue—launched its Project Gigaton to pursue an absolute greenhouse gas emissions reduction of 18 percent by 2025 and further work to prevent the release of 1 gigaton of emissions in its global supply chain by 2030. With this project, Walmart will provide an emissions reduction toolkit to a broad network of its suppliers, focusing on areas such as manufacturing, materials, and use of products.  

As these examples reveal, the future of climate action is a path charted with innovative and transformative partnerships, and many companies are already working with their various stakeholders toward a climate-compatible future.

I invite you to join me at the annual BSR Conference next month in Huntington Beach, California, as business pioneers this new territory. I will be moderating a conversation with Björn Hannappel, head of responsibility strategy and standards, Deutsche Post DHL Group, and Brandon Owens, director of environmental strategy and analytics, GE, to explore how current modes of production, manufacturing, consumption, product design, and financing tools will be affected by climate change, as well as how collaboration can help companies face risks and seize opportunities as leaders in a low-carbon economy.

This week, we will feature several blog posts about the role of collaboration in shaping our climate future. Follow @BSRnews on Twitter for updates from Global Goals Week and Climate Week NYC; see our recent blog post for the full list of where we’ll be.

Let’s talk about how BSR can help you to transform your business and achieve your sustainability goals.

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