Nov 19, 2019 - 9:00am

Conquering Carbon: How Businesses are Leading the Charge on Climate Change

Climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing society today. And the business community is taking action to address this challenge in ways that improve environmental performance, strengthen their businesses, and meet the expectations of the communities where they operate.

An initial analysis of SEC financial filings (10-Ks) of Fortune 100 companies found that 60 mentioned climate risk in 2017 and/or 2018

For example:

  • Alphabet, parent of Google, stated, “The effects of climate change, such as sea level rise, drought, flooding, wildfires, and increased storm severity,” make its systems “vulnerable to damage or interruption.”
  • MetLife noted, “Changing climate conditions, primarily rising global temperatures, may increase the frequency and severity of natural catastrophes such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods.”

The business community sees both the challenges and opportunities presented by climate change and is taking a leadership role to identify and implement real, practical solutions.

Companies have stepped up to the challenge of reducing carbon emissions and are making real progress. They are developing innovative technologies to help communities worldwide address this global challenge.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce engaged leading businesses from across the country to highlight examples of companies taking action. This collection shows some of the themes and trends emerging and demonstrates the business community’s leadership and impact related to climate.

Climate Leadership Summaries

These summaries were provided by the companies and catalog the ambitions, investments, and innovations being made to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and fight climate change.

  • Ambitions: Companies have set out how they will address GHG emissions and are making significant progress in meeting these goals.
  • Investments: Companies are investing hundreds of billions of dollars in technologies to reduce emissions in their current operations and in clean and renewable energy.
  • Innovations: Businesses are improving their product offerings to reflect these investments and support new business models that are catalyzing innovation and climate actions.
  • Other actions: Additional activities include providing voluntary disclosures, increasing energy efficiency, reducing energy intensity, establishing internal carbon pricing, and influencing emissions reductions from supply chains.

Ambitions

Nearly every company surveyed has established a metric they wish to achieve and the most effective ways of reaching it. Some examples include:

  • AT&T’s goal enables GHG savings 10 times the footprint of its operations by 2025.
  • BlackRock aims for powering its operations with 100% renewable energy by the end of 2020. It has already achieved this target in the U.S.
  • Chevron’s goal is to lower upstream methane emissions intensity 20% to 25% and reduce flaring intensity 25% to 30% by 2023.
  • Duke Energy is committed to reducing GHG emissions from electricity generation at least 50% by 2030 and reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
  • GM aims to power its global operations with 100% renewable energy by 2050, and it’s 20% of the way toward that goal already.
  • Pfizer is on track to reducing GHG emissions 20% by 2020, enabling the company to stay on a trajectory to reduce emissions 60% to 80% by 2050.

Investments

Companies are making important investments to combat climate change. Some examples include:

  • BHP announced a five-year, $400 million Climate Investment Program in 2019 to develop technologies to reduce emissions from its own operations, as well as those generated from the use of its resources.
  • Facebook contracted over 4.5 GW of renewable energy, which accounted for approximately 20% of the global corporate renewable energy volume in 2018.
  • J.P. Morgan Chase committed and arranged over $21 billion in tax equity financing for wind, solar, and geothermal energy projects in the U.S. from 2003 to 2018.
  • MetLife invested more than $1.1 billion in green initiatives in 2018, bringing total green investments to $16.6 billion.
  • Tata Group plans to invest $21.2 million to build its first industrial-scale carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) demonstration plant to trap emissions for use in sodium carbonate manufacturing in England.
  • United Airlines invested $30 million in a company producing lower carbon jet fuel.
  • BlackRock offers its asset owner clients a range of environmentally focused investment solutions, representing over $50 billion in assets under management, in clean energy funds and ETFs, green bonds, infrastructure funds, and environmentally aware money market funds.

Innovation

Innovation is key to reducing GHG emissions and mitigating the effects of climate change. Businesses are best positioned to experiment with different innovative solutions – big or small – and help determine which are most effective. Some examples include:

  • Allstate allows customers to replace damaged or destroyed appliances or equipment with more energy efficient items.
  • BP is creating more than 20 carbon neutral products and services through the use of advanced technology.
  • Dow developed a renewable energy-made polyethylene that has 13.8% fewer GHG emissions than the average polyethylene.
  • Google built services using Google Maps data and machine data to help people evaluate whether rooftop solar is right for them.
  • IBM has applied its expertise to develop technology to recycle plastics more efficiently; use AI for water, renewable energy, and farming productivity; and utilize the Internet of Things and cognitive cloud computing to identify methane leaks.

In short, businesses are leading the way.

Climate change is a critical global challenge requiring global solutions. To meet this challenge, the business community is developing, financing, building, and operating the solutions needed to power economic growth worldwide, mitigate GHG emissions, and build resilient, low carbon infrastructure.

Let’s continue the dialogue.

The Chamber will continue to serve as a platform for dialogue across the business community and among government leaders at all levels on challenging climate policy questions. We believe that progress is possible through advancing innovation, engagement, and bipartisan policies.

For more information, visit https://www.uschamber.com/addressing-climate-change, or contact Chuck Chaitovitz, vice president for environmental affairs and sustainability, at cchaitovitz@uschamber.com.

Climate Leadership Summaries