Big companies to shift to renewable energy use

Climate Week in New York sees coming together of Fortune 500 companies

GN Bureau | September 25, 2015


#fortune 500   #Nike   #salesforce   #starbucks   #walmart  

As awareness and commitment increases around the world about the environmental concerns, there is substantial improvement in collaborative action in business community. In this regard the pledge taken by the Fortune 500 listed companies to use 100% renewable electricity is significant.

Goldman Sachs, Johnson & Johnson, NIKE, Inc., Procter & Gamble, Salesforce,   Starbucks, Steelcase, Voya Financial, and Walmart on Wednesday joined RE100 and pledged to source 100% of their electricity from renewable energy to reduce CO2 emissions and seize the business benefits.

RE100 is an ambitious global campaign led by The Climate Group in partnership with CDP, to engage, support and showcase influential businesses committed to 100% renewable electricity.

The companies have chosen this year’s Climate Week in New York to unveil their leadership move before senior figures from global business and governments. With December’s COP21 UN climate talks fast approaching, this key milestone event sends a timely reminder to negotiators that leading businesses want strong climate action from governments, while increasing demand for renewables themselves.   

America’s business drive to a low carbon economy has been picking up speed recently. Goldman Sachs and Walmart were two of 13 companies in July to commit to reducing their emissions as part of the American Business Act on Climate pledge – and the White House is expected to announce new names next month.   

Momentum behind RE100 has also grown globally in the last year. When RE100 was launched one year ago at Climate Week NYC 2014, there were 13 original corporate partners – IKEA Group, Swiss Re, BT Group, Formula E, H&M, KPN, Nestlé, Philips, RELX Group, J. Safra Sarasin, Unilever and YOOX Group – as well as Mars, Incorporated, the first US business on board.

Now 36 major businesses from around the world have joined the campaign, with green desert economy developer Elion Resources Group becoming the first Chinese company in March 2015, followed in May by the first Indian company Information Technology leader Infosys.   

Last week saw the addition of Swiss financial services provider UBS, and earlier this week the first science based participant, Dutch Life Sciences and Materials sciences company Royal DSM."

Climate Week NYC is a key event in the international calendar that brings together leading governments, investors, businesses, innovators and opinion formers. The Climate Group launched Climate Week NYC in 2009, and has acted as the secretariat since its inception. This year it will host more than 100 affiliate events from September 21-28.

Some of the top executives of the companies spoke on their committment:    

Alex Gorsky, CEO of Johnson & Johnson, said: “As the world’s largest and most broadly-based health care company, our mission is to help people live longer, healthier and happier lives. We understand the intrinsic link between a healthy environment and human health. Each day, we work to continuously improve our energy efficiency, lower our environmental footprint, and partner on innovative approaches. We are proud to join RE100 and announce our aspiration to power all of our facilities with renewable energy.”   

Enrique Ostale, president and CEO of Walmart Latin America, said: “Walmart set out on its journey to be powered by 100 percent renewable beginning in 2005, and today’s pledge with RE100 further affirms the importance of our aspirational goal. With much of Walmart’s projected growth over the coming years set to take place in Central and Latin America, we are committed to increasing demand for renewable energy globally.”

Jim Keane, President and CEO of Steelcase Inc, said: “For Steelcase, joining RE100 is a reflection of our ongoing commitment to renewable energy. Our current investment in renewables equaling 100 percent of our global electricity use is an important part of our energy strategy. At the same time, we are passionate about continually finding new ways to reduce energy usage in every part of our business. We look forward to sharing and learning with The Climate Group and other leading global organizations and are proud to join forces in promoting a clean energy future for all.”

Rodney O. Martin Jr., CEO of Voya Financial, said: “At Voya, we help Americans plan, invest and protect their savings so that they can prepare to retire with greater success. As we do this, we are equally committed to protecting our planet’s natural resources and doing our part to ensure a sustainable environmental future for everyone. Joining RE100 is a testament to Voya’s established track record of purchasing renewable energy and minimizing our ecological footprint through responsible business practices. We believe that efforts like these are not only good for the environment, but that they also contribute to a positive culture that attracts employees, partners and customers – and supports a company’s bottom line.”

Kyung-Ah Park, Head of Environmental Markets at Goldman Sachs, said: “As a leading global financial institution, we have had a long standing commitment to finance and invest in clean energy around the world to help the transition to a low carbon economy. We are also committed to reducing our own carbon footprint, and will target the use of 100 percent renewable power to meet our global electricity needs by 2020. We’re proud to be part of the RE100 initiative as a way to partner with leading companies in expanding the deployment of clean energy.”   

Len Sauers, vice president of Global Sustainability at Procter & Gamble, said: “We have a long term vision to be powered by 100 percent renewable energy and have a goal of 30 per cent renewable energy by 2020. Efforts like RE100 are key to helping scale efforts and allow peer-to-peer networking with like-minded companies.”

Eric Sprunk, Chief Operating Officer, NIKE, Inc. said: “Climate change is a global issue that requires global solutions. We believe that collaboration is important to accelerate and scale sustainable innovations that have potential to change the world, and Nike is proud to join the leading global brands in RE100 with our commitment to reach 100% renewable energy.”

Mark Kenber, CEO of The Climate Group, said: “Research shows that the most ambitious companies have seen a 27 percent return on their low carbon investments – no wonder new names keep joining RE100. Lowering risk, protecting against price rises, saving millions and boosting brand is what shaping a low carbon economy is all about. Today these companies are signalling loud and clear to COP21 negotiators that forward-thinking businesses back renewables and want to see a strong climate deal in Paris.”

Fokko Wientjes, vice president Corporate Sustainability & Public-Private Partnerships at Royal DSM, which joined RE100 on Monday, said: "In addition to developing and selling solutions that help enable a lowcarbon economy, we at DSM feel a responsibility to reduce our own carbon footprint. Saving energy and increasing our sourcing of renewable energy are the two key priorities to achieve this. The RE100 movement is giving a clear signal that the transition to renewable energy is real. The world's leading sustainable companies are getting prepared for this major change.”

Caroline Anstey,head of UBS and Society at the Swiss bank UBS, which joined RE100 and publicly committed to 100 percent renewable power last week added: “With our commitment to renewable energy our goal is to take a leadership role and help create demand for renewable energy across the globe. Reducing our own footprint is a key commitment within our climate change strategy, which also focuses on investments, financing, research and risk management."

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