US Businesses Knee-Deep in Getting Emissions Down

A few weeks ago we wrote that the world’s biggest companies are already seeing negative impacts on their business from climate change, according to a survey by CDP (formerly Climate Disclosure Project).

Now CDP has released a report that shows how businesses are responding on a state-by-state basis. While they certainly view climate change impacts as an increasing cost, they are well along in turning it into a competitive advantage. CDP surveyed 172 companies in 9 states: California, Colorado, Texas, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina.

How Companies are Responding

Innovating on Sustainable Products: finally, leading companies are focused on eliminating emissions from their manufacturing lifecycle, which means producing the products we’ve asked for over decades – cutting energy, waste and material use – from green IT products to laundry detergent, from building insulation to tires for vehicles.  They are producing new energy efficiency products to meet rising demand.

Using Renewable Energy: another way companies are reducing emissions and keeping energy costs down in a time of rising prices, is to use and often invest in renewable energy.

Anticipate Carbon Regulations: rather than viewing the inevitable controls as a problem for their business, they see a carbon tax and EPA’s power plant regulations, for example, as a way to level the playing field for leaders that are acting now and a way to cut costs over the long-term. In fact, the lack of regulation and uncertainty over when it’s coming is impeding their ability to plan and invest further in a low carbon economy.

Google’s extensive green roof is a big investment, but will keep energy costs down over the long-run:

Google green roof

San Diego utility, Sempra Energy says: "As compared to other energy companies with portfolios that include higher-emissions generating sources, such as coal, and which are just beginning to employ energy efficiency measures, we are well positioned to deal with regulatory and other low-carbon initiatives. Because we are focused on natural gas and renewable sources of energy, our emissions rate (CO² per MW-hour) is well below the US national average."

Levi Strauss says: "If the US Congress passes climate change legislation we will benefit from increased business certainty about energy prices and a leveled playing field for efforts to reduce emissions. We can do more, faster and cheaper with federal legislation that incentivizes utilities to work with us to capture efficiencies and invest in renewable energy." 

Investing in Resilience: businesses in every state are investing in measures that make them more resilient to help offset risks and disruptions from climate change, such as interrupted sales and instability in their supply chains.  

Supplier Sustainability

Suppliers
can account for up to 86% of a company’s carbon footprint
and they are getting much more attention. Last year, Hewlett-Packard was the first IT company to set emissions reduction targets for suppliers. 

Many corporations now audit suppliers especially in countries where regulations and enforcement are weak, such as China. Suppliers that excel tend to receive preferential treatment and more business.  

As the dominant food supplier in the US, almost half of Walmart’s supply chain emissions come from fertilizer use in farming, much of which leaches into waterways.  In partnership with Environmental Defense Fund, they are working with farmers to decrease and optimize the amount of fertilizer used.  

Here is CDP’s report: 

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