Originally published on February 16, 2018.
In the words of the Bruntland Commission of 1987, sustainability is “meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.” Although it is the best-known definition of the term, it lacks an answer to the question: who is responsible for meeting those needs?
And that is the question being debated now amid countries joining or leaving international climate agreements, or repealing environmental regulations. Without a definite answer and ever-changing domestic environmental laws, such as in the U.S., one could assume that sustainability efforts are going down the drain.
Fortunately, that is not the case as highlighted by numerous global companies.
With 2016 being the second-warmest year on record, companies such as Siemens are on the right path as they work to reduce their carbon footprint. A global German-headquartered manufacturing company, Siemens AG has been one of the most vocal European companies stressing the importance of energy-efficient projects. In September 2015, the company was the first global industrial company to commit itself to meet carbon neutrality by 2030. Currently, it’s investing in technological shifts that embrace renewable energy at their production facilities and buildings, and so far they’ve reduced their CO2 emissions by 25%. According to the Siemen’s global site, the company’s Environmental Portfolio (that consists of products and services that use renewable energy) is a valuable asset. In the 2017 fiscal year, half of the company’s total revenue derived from their Environmental Portfolio.
Another company aiming to run on 100% renewable energy is IKEA. In 2012, they announced that by 2020 it would operate only on renewable energy, but last year they upped the stakes with a more ambitious goal: to also be a net energy exporter. Like Siemens, IKEA has also been investing in renewable energy, including powering its stores with solar panels. Further, as a furnisher retailer, it has acknowledged the environmental impacts of deforestation, and therefore it’s also aiming to source all its wood from certified responsibly-managed forests.
From manufacturers to retailers, and now IT, Adobe is another company aiming to reach net zero energy consumption. In 2016, Adobe committed itself to power its operations and product delivery via 100% renewable energy by 2035. Although it has yet to significantly reduce the carbon footprint in its operations, by the end of last year over 98% of all Adobe’s products were delivered digitally. Moreover, Adobe has taken big steps in reducing its water footprint since 2000, and even more so under California’s drought by installing low-flow faucets and drip irrigation systems.
But it’s important to point out that each company has room to improve:
- Sixty percent of Siemen’s plants currently run on renewable energy, but those plants are all located in Germany. What about the rest of its worldwide facilities?
- IKEA so far only sources 50% of its wood through certified foresters.
- Adobe’s 2012 CDP Report included the following goal: achieve net-zero energy consumption by 2015 in its U.S. facilities. However, it’s 2015 report does not indicate that the goal was met.
Nevertheless, these companies are only one of many that have started working toward sustainability- a situation that at the moment needs to be supported by any and all actors possible.
Read more posts by Cindy Ramirez