Article from Forbes
Every April, Earth Day prompts companies all over the world to showcase their green initiatives and tap into consumer demand for climate action, often via high-profile campaigns that connect their brand with support for the environment.
While these campaigns are crucial to focusing attention on climate change, marketing messages in a pretty Earth Day frame can distract from what really needs to happen to transform our economy.
What climate goals have companies set? And do they have a concrete plan to turn their pledges into progress? Are they making verifiable and transparent progress?
Too often, splashy pledges are announced without solid strategies and action plans to back them up.
Here are four meaningful ways companies can lead on climate:
- Advocate like you mean it. Companies face growing pressure from investors, employees, nonprofits and other stakeholders to put their lobbying muscle behind their climate goals. A company can’t credibly make public net zero pledges when its lobbying and trade association activities tell an entirely different story. Companies need to clearly and publicly push for meaningful climate policy. In the U.S., that means companies must do everything they can to help pass the budget bill Congress is weighing that would make major investments in clean energy.
- Prioritize climate strategy for maximum impact. We are firmly in the decisive decade for climate action — which means companies of any size in every sector must act now. First, companies must identify and map their emissions and prioritize and deploy abatement solutions accordingly. Pathways to Net Zero, a collaboration between Environmental Defense Fund and Deloitte, offers case studies, resources and tools to help business leaders do just that.
- Clean up what’s on store shelves. According to The Sustainability Consortium, “global production and use of consumer goods accounts for more than 60% of all greenhouse gas emissions, 80% of water usage (mostly due to agriculture) and two-thirds of tropical forest loss globally.” Undoubtably, consumer products are a major contributor to climate change, while also destroying ecosystems and exposing people and nature to toxic chemicals. Address climate and chemical impacts across your global supply chain and protect the health of consumers by reducing emissions and toxic ingredients in your products. Determine the areas with the biggest impact and where your company has the most leverage, and go big there.
- Collaboration is key. A company can go further and faster through shared learning and working together to overcome barriers and find innovative solutions. This is not about making a single company better — it’s about catalyzing change across entire industries. Groups like Transform to Net Zero and the Business Alliance to Scale Climate Solutions mean companies don’t have to chart this territory alone.
And here are five reasons why you should prioritize climate action now:
- Your customers are watching. A Deloitte report found that 65% of respondents expect CEOs to do more to make progress on societal issues, including reducing carbon emissions, tackling air pollution and making business supply chains more sustainable.
- Potential hires are watching. The way to win the race for talent is to lead on climate. Some 78% of business students say they want to work for a company with good environmental practices.
- Investors are watching. Investors have their own climate targets, and they are increasingly pushing companies to reduce their emissions and show they’re prepared to compete in a carbon-constrained future.
- Your reputation depends on it. Demands from stakeholders for greater transparency are increasing both financial and reputational risks for companies that make baseless claims.
- Your business’ future requires a viable planet. The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report shows that we have no choice but to act now, in a big way. Our chance to keep warming to 1.5C is quickly slipping out of reach — yet we already have the tools needed to prevent the worst of the climate crisis. We just need to use them.
This Earth Day, show the world that your business is one that investors and consumers can rely on to move at the pace and scale the science demands to ensure a livable planet for everyone.