When President Trump announced that the US will withdraw from the Paris climate accord we felt that we had an obligation to take a stance. That is why we signed the We Are Still In alternative agreement which states that we will continue to support climate action to meet the Paris agreement. Now, more than ever, is the time to stand up for our future and work to avert the looming climate crisis.
Check out this Forbes article where we talk about the importance of taking a stance in support of the Paris climate accord and how the business world can play a role on this issue.
According to new research published in Nature Climate Change, we have even less time to address the impact of climate change.
In the Paris Climate Agreement, the key number was “below 2 degrees Celsius.” If we can keep warming below that threshold, we would be in a better position. However, a new study says that preindustrial levels of carbon emissions used in the Paris agreement are actually based off of temperature records in the 19th century and do not account for gasses released from 1750 to 1875; and those gases, if accounted for, would add another one-fifth of a degree to the baseline temperature.
Three businesses, of varying sizes and industries, shared with me why they feel that the business community can set a precedence -- and even outweigh the decisions of the Oval Office.
Tuckerman & Co.: small, mission-driven brand situated in New England manufactures high quality dress shirts made with organic GOTS- certified cotton. The shirts are made in facilities where emissions and water usage is closely monitored and the final product is packaged in 100% recycled packaging. Amanda Rinderle says that small companies like hers can have just as much influence as the bigger players.
Why did the company feel the need to sign this document?
We strongly disagree with President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord and are committed to doing our part to fight climate change. We believe in the promise of the Paris Climate Accord and think it’s important to be part of a collective voice--representing states, cities, universities, and businesses of all sizes--making our resolve to pursue the goals of the Paris Climate Accord clear to the rest of the world.
One thing that’s very exciting to us is how the movement continues to gain momentum. The agreement has nearly doubled its signatories in just two weeks. Much of the business community has been more aligned on this than ever before so the next challenge will be translating this into coordinated advocacy and action. Hopefully we will see increased coordination among SMEs as well as companies incorporating positive impact into their business models.
What role do you think SME's play in this? As a small company, is your impact limited and how do you try to amplify that impact?
What small companies lack in size, they more than make up for in number. In fact, collectively small companies make up over half of non-farm US GDP, so there is some serious clout there, in terms of advocacy but also in terms of making meaningful reductions in carbon emissions.
The irony is that President Trump defended his decision to withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord as an “American First” policy, but in reality this diminishes the extent to which American companies -- again, many of them small businesses -- are among the world’s most innovative and creative.
Historically we’re not a country that shrinks away from challenges, but which has instead relied on innovation and creativity to help us solve difficult problems. In many ways, that’s why there is nothing more American than committing to the Paris Agreement - it’s a signal that we’re up to the challenge and that we recognize it will enhance American innovation, trade, and competitiveness over the long run.
LA-based Thrive Market calls itself the largest retailer of exclusively non-GMO groceries, and specializes in shipping healthful products to Americans across the US, beyond the hyper-aware health patches of Los Angeles and San Francisco. Gunnar Lovelace, CEO and co-founder, says that the data for climate change is just too strong to ignore.
Why did you sign this pledge?
Signing the pledge is a symbol of our deep and ongoing commitment to sustainability. It's a key focus for us and one we understand as even more critically important given how dysfunctional our elected government has become.
As a technology company we understand the importance of data-driven decision making. The consensus among 97% of scientists worldwide is that the climate-warming trend is highly likely due to human activities. We understand our role as contributors to this trend and embrace our responsibility to act with the urgency climate change demands, leveraging all available 21st century tools to neutralize our impact and emissions, investing resources into sustainable infrastructure and driving environmentally friendly innovations within our supply-chains.
In today's era of intense political dysfunction consumers are exercising real power by voting with their dollars, supporting businesses that align with their values and leaving brands that don't behind.
So what is Thrive doing specifically to make shopping -- that too e-commerce, more eco-friendly?
In 2017 we've moved to offsetting our complete carbon footprint through a fully traceable domestic forestry project in Minnesota, and we've diverted 95% of all waste produced by our fulfillment centers from landfills and will be at 100% by the end of the year.
We're able to work with existing vendors to source only the most sustainably produced products. We're empowering our members to drive their shared values into our supply chains, both encouraging vendors and holding them accountable to the highest environmental standards. Plus, we continue to make a tremendous investment in product development, bringing 140 Thrive Market Collection products to the market-to-date, with 300 more on schedule for 2017. Whether it's partnering with one of the most innovative organic tomato farms in the nation to lessen the water and energy used to grow our tomato products or working to develop a pouch to lessen energy used during the packing and shipping of our organic beans, each of our Thrive Market Collection products is created with a focus on sustainability.
We've become the nation's largest retailer of exclusively non-GMO groceries. This is important as industrialized agriculture is nearly entirely composed of genetically modified (GM) crops, and this type of fossil fuel dependent farming is responsible for more than 1/3 of greenhouse gas emissions globally. Plus, GM crops are engineered to withstand heavy doses of toxic herbicides (like RoundUp) which are systematically poisoning our soil systems, water sources and air supply. This is critically important as a recent study from the Rodale Institute shows that we have fewer than 60 harvests left given how quickly industrialized agriculture is destroying our topsoil – the layer of soil from which plants draw their nutrients. By only selling non-GMO groceries our members' dollars are investing directly in sustainable agricultural systems, supporting healthy soil (which is our most powerful carbon sequestration tool as a species) and non-toxic farming practices.
Can business fight this fight on its own?
Today's conscious consumer is not only in search of a great product at a competitive price, but wants to better understand where that product comes from, how it's made and the impact that product has on the world around us. The massive shift in demand of the conscious consumer to products that are visibly sustainable is only accelerating this shift, validating our position that putting planet ahead of profits is the best thing for everyone. Consumers will continue to demand brands shift to more sustainable practices even if these practices aren't required by legislation.
Lastly, Timberland, a globally-recognized outdoor brand and retailer with a significant footprint of shops and merchandise throughout the US, also signed the pledge. Jim Pisani, the company’s global brand president, says business has to be a part of the answer: “Timberland believes business has the power – and responsibility – to create long-lasting positive impact in the world.”
How do you do that?
At Timberland, we are Earthkeepers, meaning we strive to make responsible products, protect and restore the outdoors, and serve the communities around the world where we operate. For us, corporate social responsibility and sustainability are not considered “add-on” functions but are embedded into the company’s business model. Every member of the leadership team at Timberland has sustainability goals in their strategies – whether it’s related to increasing our use of sustainable materials, hitting community service targets, or reducing the environmental impact of our facilities and operations. These goals then cascade down into their organizations, such that every Timberland employee has some sustainability metric within their annual performance plan.
What specific initiatives have you been doing at Timberland to show support -- beyond signing the pledge?
At Timberland, we pull on our boots every day to stand up for what we believe in. Our employees and consumers around the globe care deeply about the impacts of climate change, as do we. That is why Timberland has reduced our GHG emission by 53% over the past 10 years, and we procure over 32% of our energy from renewable sources. Looking to the future, we will continue to reduce our energy consumption, striving for 50% of our energy needs to be supported by renewable energy by the year 2020. Our actions support VF Corporation, our parent company, and its goal of powering all owned and operated facilities with 100% renewable energy by 2025.
Why do you feel that businesses need to be more vocal about these topics?
Today’s consumers, especially the younger generation, want to feel good about the companies and brands they do business with. It’s not enough to simply put out a great product – consumers want to know more. Where did the materials come from? How was it made? Were workers treated fairly? What kind of an impact does it have on the environment? Consumers are increasingly demanding transparency and expect brands to have a voice and a point of view.