Top CEO’s of some of the largest companies are advocating for carbon-free power that is both reliable and affordable. From voicing their support of the Paris Climate Agreement to establishing mission-focused sources of funding, these business leaders are engaging in the global clean power conversation like never before.
Paris Climate Conference Rally of Corporate Supporters
In his speech for the UN Climate Summit in 2014, which took place in New York, Peter Agnefjäll, President and CEO of IKEA Group recounted to the Summit participants that IKEA’s customers want to live more sustainably, and are expressing this desire in their buying decisions. IKEA has committed to become energy independent, committing to becoming 100% renewable in their operations. IKEA has already installed a large number of solar panels and wind turbines that are helping them achieve these goals by the year 2020. Agnefjäll also committed to move to 100% renewable or recycled plastic materials in the products they manufacture. Since his speech in 2014, IKEA has made good on the thought leadership presented by its CEO in 2014. In addition to solar and wind energy, IKEA has installed fuel cells that operate on biogas to produce electricity. Recently, IKEA announced plans to utilize biomass residues and agricultural wastes, like stover, in its product packaging.
In December of 2015, leaders from 195 countries from across the planet convened at the climate conference (COP21) and adopted a legally binding global climate deal – the first ever. The participants agree to enforce the deal beginning in 2020, subsequent to signature at the UN in New York in April of 2016. Reflecting on this milestone agreement, Agnefjäll was quoted:
“The Paris Agreement marks the start of a new journey in the fight against climate change. Over the last two weeks we have seen countries working together and businesses and civil society raising their voices for positive change. We are pleased to see that a solid commitment has been made. We will continue to invest in renewable energy and to transform our business with the confidence that governments are also committed to building a low-carbon economy. Only together can we build a better future.”
The big-business commitments for addressing climate change were not only attributed to leaders of European nations, often considered to be the drive behind global sustainability initiatives. Large U.S. companies, like consumer retail giant Walmart, have engaged in the dialogue, as well. Kathleen McLaughlin, Chief Sustainability Officer for Walmart and President of the Walmart Foundation offered the following reflections on the Paris Climate deal:
“We believe climate change is an urgent and pressing challenge, and it is clear that we must all do our part to reduce, avoid and mitigate the impact of rising greenhouse gas levels. That’s why we support the UN’s call for the U.S. corporate sector to commit to science-based targets to reduce emissions. In addition, we have already successfully decoupled our growth from emissions, and recently announced that we exceeded our goal to reduce 20 MMT of GHG emissions from our supply chain.”
Other U.S. companies, such as Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook have all, similarly, voiced support for expanded efforts to address climate change through the use of renewable energy.
Corporate Leaders Joining Together to Facilitate Energy Research
Some of the greatest entrepreneurs and pioneers of big business who have committed to the development of carbon-free energy are backing up their words with actions. The day before the Paris talks convened, former Microsoft pioneer Bill Gates, who now co-chairs the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, announced the launch of the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, a partnership of some of the leadership of the planets largest corporations, to catalyze research and development of clean energy technologies. Who makes up this unique coalition? Its members include corporate leaders such as Jeff Bezos (Founder and CEO of Amazon), Marc Benioff (Founder, Chairman and CEO, of Salesforce.com), Richard Branson (Founder of Virgin Records), and Meg Whitman (CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise) just to name a few. The complete list of coalition members can be found here.
The Coalition advertises 5 guiding principles to facilitate clean energy investment. Among the sectors they highlight for investment: agriculture. Un-used organics from agricultural production, such as crop residues, combined with agricultural wastes in the form of animal manures and food processing wastes, represent an immense energy resource that we have only begun to realize. Why have we not previously developed systems that can harvest the energy potential from these materials (bioenergy systems)? Great question, and as you may imagine, with a complex answer. Some reasons why are discussed in more detail here.
This question is one that the Breakthrough Energy Coalition seeks to answer, among others, through a commitment to create investment vehicles to overcome the current barriers to renewable energy research and development – acts that will facilitate rapid advancement of bioenergy technologies.
More quotes from top business leaders can be found in this article by businessGreen