BusinessGreen takes a look at the raft of fresh sustainability commitments made by 13 the world's largest companies in support of the White House's climate push
More than a dozen of the United States' biggest companies have today announced a joint plan to invest up to $140bn in tackling climate change, in a bid to underline the private sector's support for a deal at this year's Paris Summit.
Alongside the investment pledges, the companies have provided an update on how they plan to cut their carbon footprints and curb their wider environmental impacts.
Unveiling the pledges, the group declared "accelerating the transition to a low-carbon economy will produce multiple benefits with regard to sustainable economic growth, public health, resilience to natural disasters, and the health of the global environment".
The move was welcomed by Kevin Moss, global director of the Business Center at the World Resources Institute think tank, who hailed the pledges as "a clear signal that companies are ready to take bold action to address climate change".
"These companies are making a pragmatic choice, recognising that climate change can create unacceptable business risks," he said. "It is simply smart practice for corporate leaders to manage these risks and seize opportunities in the growing low-carbon economy. These pledges add to the growing momentum for a strong international climate agreement in Paris this December. As businesses join political and spiritual leaders in the call for climate action, the United States is staking out a leadership position. These companies have added a new dimension to American leadership on climate change."
BusinessGreen explores the key environmental commitments made by the industry-leading multinationals.
The world's largest provider of aluminium says it will reduce its US greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent from 2005 levels by 2025, while also reducing emissions caused by the use of its products.
The tech giant confirmed it has already converted all its US operations to run using 100 per cent renewable energy, and said it will now make additional investments to add 280MW of clean energy to the US and Chinese grids by the end of next year.
Bank of America
The second largest bank in the US pledged to lend, invest or raise capital totalling $125bn to support environmental business initiatives by 2025, after having already provided $39bn for low-carbon activities.
It said it will also develop financing structures that seek to reduce climate risk and promote a Socially Responsible Investing platform that aims to support clean energy investments and build new markets for green bonds, yield-cos and other vehicles.
Berkshire Hathaway Energy
The investment company, which holds energy companies such as MidAmerican Renewables and PacifiCorp, states that it will provide $15bn for the construction of renewable energy projects, after providing the same amount last year. It also commits to provide its holding assets an additional 1.5GW of solar and wind energy by 2017, whilst retiring 75 per cent of its coal capacity in Nevada by 2019.
The food and agricultural products conglomerate said it will improve its greenhouse gas emissions intensity, freshwater efficiency and energy efficiency by five per cent, whilst also sourcing 18 per cent of its energy from renewable sources.
It added that it will also continue with efforts to limit deforestation after signing the UN's New York Declaration on Forests last year, which commits to stopping natural forest loss by 2030, and help implement the Brazilian Soy Moratorium, a voluntary zero-deforestation agreement that saw deforestation fall in the Amazon.
The drinks giant committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 25 per cent by 2020 across its entire value chain, which it estimates will save 20 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually.
The auto giant pledged to reduce its energy and carbon intensity 20 per cent and water intensity by 15 per cent from a 2010 baseline by 2020.
It said it will also aim to use 125MW of renewable energy by 2020, and deliver a 40 per cent reduction in waste from a 2010 baseline by the same year. Ultimately, the company aims to make all its manufacturing sites zero-waste, with 150 landfill-free facilities expected to be online by 2020.
The company added that it will also strive to improve the efficiency and emissions footprint of all its vehicles, whilst promoting the wider adoption of electric vehicles.
The bank said it has mobilised $33bn of capital for wind, solar, smart grid and other clean technologies, and hopes to mobilise another $7bn within the next year, before establishing a larger target for 2025.
The investment bank said it will deliver capital for projects that seek to enhance climate resilience, whilst aiming for carbon neutrality across all of its operations by the end of the year. It also said it aims to use 100 per cent renewable power by 2020, alongside a goal to reduce energy usage by 10 per cent from a 2013 baseline.
The IT powerhouse pledged a wide variety of sustainability measures, having already secured 1.1GW of renewable energy for its data centres. The global tech firm said it hopes to triple its renewables capacity by 2025 in order to meet its 100 per cent renewable energy goal, and confirmed it has also committed $2bn in cumulative investments in clean energy projects across the globe.
The company said it will also promote sustainable transport with an aim to reduce single occupancy commuting for its employees by 10 per cent, by providing energy efficient Google shuttles and corporate electric vehicles and encouraging carpooling, public transport, walking and cycling.
In addition, the firm said it hopes to cut its Bay Water headquarters potable water usage by 30 per cent from 2013 levels by 2015.
And it detailed how it has provided one petabyte (1,000GB) of cloud storage space for data and climate models to climate researchers and scientists, along with 40 years of satellite imagery.
The tech giant committed to retaining its carbon neutral status, which it achieved in 2012, whilst also purchasing renewable energy to entirely power its data centres, labs, and manufacturing facilities. It said it will also invest in carbon offset projects, which drive social benefits in emerging nations, as it seeks to completely offset emissions from its air travel.
The drinks firm said it will expand its sustainable farming practices to 500,000 acres of its North American agricultural farmland by the end of next year. It added that it will also accelerate the rollout of its hydrofluorocarbon (HFC)-free coolers, vending machines and fountain dispensers, to ensure that its equipment will be free from the pollutant by 2020.
And the company said it was working to grow its fleet of electric, hybrid and other clean or efficient fuel vehicles, and striving to deliver zero deforestation status across its global supply chain by 2020. It will also implement solar photovoltaic (PV) systems across its facilities, and aim to increase the use of packaging made from more renewable sources.
The logistics giant committed to reducing emissions by 20 per cent by 2020 from 2007 levels and expanding its alternative fuel truck fleet to 7,700 vehicles by the end of the year. It said it will also make investments in fuel-saving technologies and alternative fuel vehicles, introduce energy conservation technology in its facilities, source more electricity from renewable sources and provide transparent reports on its emissions.
The retail chain pledged to source seven billion KWh of energy from renewable sources by the end of 2020, whilst also doubling the number of on-site solar projects on its US stores, Sam's Clubs and distribution centres by 2020, in comparison to its 2013 baseline.
The company also said it will reduce its energy usage by 20 per cent from its 2010 levels by 2020, and increase reporting of its yields, water usage and greenhouse gas emissions in its food supply chains.
In addition, the company said it would establish joint partnerships with its suppliers, cooperatives and service providers in order to save 11 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, while aiming for net zero deforestation in its product sourcing by 2020.
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