On the heels of a new UN report detailing damaging and accelerating impacts of climate change, top business executives from IKEA, JLL, Mars Inc., Sprint and VF Corp. met today (April 11, 2014) with members of the CongressionalBicameral Task Force on Climate Change to discuss climate-related impacts on their companies, actions they are taking to reduce their companies’ carbon footprints, and the urgency for stronger policy action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support clean energy choices.
The five business leaders were joined for additional Congressional meetings by executives from Aspen Skiing, Ben & Jerry’s, Burton Snowboards, CA Tech, Calvert Investment, eBay, Eileen Fisher, Nike, Starbucks, Symantec, Unilever, and the Outdoor Industry Association, which represents more than 4,000 manufacturers, distributors, and retailers.
Among the topics discussed, the business executives specifically called on Congress to pass a tax extenders package that would renew expired tax credits for clean energy and energy efficiency for two years. They also urged passage of the Master Limited Partnership (MLP) Parity Act, which calls for extending the popular MLP finance mechanism to renewable energy, to level the playing field with fossil fuel sources.
Watch the briefing below:
All companies participating today are signatories to the Climate Declaration, a corporate call-to-action that urges federal and state policymakers to seize the economic opportunity of addressing climate change.
Launched on April 10, 2013 by 33 founding companies and Ceres, a nonprofit sustainability advocacy organization, and its business network, Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy (BICEP), the Climate Declaration has more than 750 signatories nationwide. The newest companies to sign the declaration, at its one-year anniversary, include: the San Diego Port Authority, Sprint and SunPower.
'The hundreds of companies signed on to the Climate Declaration see the financial upside of tackling climate change today, both for their own bottom lines and the overall economy,' said Anne Kelly, director of policy and BICEP at Ceres. 'They recognize that the benefits of acting today far outweigh the escalating costs of further delay. We welcome them and invite others to come on board.'
“The U.S. has spent more than $136 billion on disaster relief in the past three years alone, and the storms and other natural events causing this damage have been connected to climate change,” said Letitia Webster, director of global sustainability for VF Corporation, a North Carolina-based lifestyle apparel giant that owns iconic American brands such as The North Face, Timberland, Vans and Wrangler. “It’s critical that more of our nation’s financial resources are spent working to address the root cause of this problem to prevent, or at least slow down, the exact impacts that our outdated carbon infrastructure is creating.”
“These major businesses have shown tremendous leadership in calling for strong policy action to cut carbon pollution,” said Rep. Henry A. Waxman, co-chair of the Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change. “I believe that with the active engagement of businesses like these we can protect our environment, create new jobs and strengthen our economy.”
Beyond signing the declaration, the signatories are taking their own steps to become more sustainable. IKEA US, for example, announced today that it is purchasing a 98 megawatt wind farm in Hoopeston, Illinois that, when operational in 2015, will allow the company to generate 165 percent of the energy it consumes in its U.S. operations (38 stores, five distribution centers, two service offices and one factory) with renewable sources. Ninety percent of IKEA locations in the U.S. already have solar installations for a total of 38 megawatts in capacity.
“We are committed to renewable energy and to running our business in a way that minimizes our carbon emissions, not only because of the environmental impact, but also because it makes good financial sense,” said Rob Olson, IKEA Chief Financial Officer.“We invest in our own renewable energy sources so that we can control our exposure to fluctuating electricity costs and continue providing great value to our customers.”
GM, the only signatory from the automotive industry, has taken numerous steps in the past year, including introducing two new electrified vehicles, the Chevrolet Spark EV and the Cadillac ELR; meeting the voluntary ENERGY STAR Challenge for Industryat 63 facilities worldwide, saving $162 million in energy costs; investing $24 million in 14 additional megawatts of landfill gas at Fort Wayne and Orion assembly plants, avoiding 23,000 metric tons of CO2 and saving $10 million in energy costs per year; replacing coal-fired boilers at its Detroit Hamtramck assembly with process steam from municipal solid waste; and completing Ohio’s largest rooftop solar array, a 1.8MW installation at GM Toledo Transmission.
Aspen Skiing Company partnered with the Elk Creek Coal Mine to capture waste methane and generate electricity equivalent to what it uses annually while eliminating three times its annual carbon emissions.
“Aspen Skiing Company signed the Climate Declaration because of the significant threat a changing climate poses for our business and winter tourism based economies globally,” said Matthew Hamilton, sustainability director for Aspen Skiing Company. “We believe it will take unique partnerships, like a coal company working with a ski resort operator to find common economic ground on issues of energy independence while reducing climate impacts.”
Microsoft committed to going carbon neutral and put a price on carbon, and entering into a 20-year power purchase agreement with a wind facility in Texas. Gap Inc reached its 20 percent by 2015 greenhouse gas reduction goal a year ahead of schedule. The company is now working to set a revised goal.
In addition, 70 percent of the Climate Declaration’s major company signatories (those with over $100 million in annual revenues) have publicly advocated for strong climate policies, whether by lobbying on Capitol Hill, sending a letter or engaging with the public on the urgency of the issue through social media.
“It’s an honor to be part of BICEP because is brings brands together so that we have a stronger voice,” said Burton President Donna Carpenter. “At Burton, we’ve gone from focusing on our internal sustainability efforts to publicly lobbying for policy action and engaging the snowboarding community through social media campaigns. Climate change is an issue that must be tackled collaboratively.”
In addition to lobbying for policy action, Burton has committed to a three-year plan with measurable goals, such as a carbon footprint analysis and 15 percent energy reduction at the company’s Vermont headquarters.
Ceres is an advocate for sustainability leadership. Ceres mobilizes a powerful coalition of investors, companies and public interest groups to accelerate and expand the adoption of sustainable business practices and solutions to build a healthy global economy. Ceres directs the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR), a network of over 100 institutional investors with collective assets totaling more than $12 trillion. Ceres also directs Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy (BICEP), an advocacy coalition of nearly 30 businesses committed to working with policy makers to pass meaningful energy and climate legislation. For more information, visit www.ceres.org or follow on Twitter@CeresNews.
BICEP (Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy), a project of Ceres, is an advocacy coalition of businesses committed to working with policymakers to pass meaningful energy and climate legislation enabling a rapid transition to a low-carbon, 21st century economy – an economy that will create new jobs and stimulate economic growth while stabilizing our planet’s fragile climate. For more information and a list of member companies visit: www.ceres.org/bicep.