“The scientific evidence is unequivocal: climate change is a threat to human well-being and the health of the planet. Any further delay in concerted global action will miss the brief, rapidly closing window to secure a livable future.”
We’ve heard the warnings for decades but in this year’s global report Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, scientists from around the world made it clear that any window of opportunity to save the planet is rapidly closing. Now is the time to invest the future of our planet.
Inspired by Earth Day 2022’s Invest in our Planet message, we looked at ways that businesses, countries, cities, entrepreneurs, and individuals are investing in our planet’s future.
Global corporations play a pivotal role in battling the climate crisis, and it’s clear that businesses that invest in sustainability not only help the planet, but also their shareholders. The 100 companies on Barron’s America’s Most Sustainable Companies list returned an average of 34.4% in 2021, beating the S&P Index’s 28.7%.
More than one-third of the world’s 2000 largest corporations have made “net zero” pledges and are designing strategies to get there, up from one-fifth just a year ago. Climate experts are tracking their progress to achieving their goals. Over 300 companies of all sizes have signed The Climate Pledge, committing to measure and report greenhouse gas emissions regularly, implement decarbonization strategies through real business changes and neutralize any remaining emissions with credible offsets.
American automakers General Motors and Ford have announced plans to become carbon neutral in products and operations, demonstrating their investment in the transformation of the US auto industry. And since transportation contributes to over a quarter of global emissions, this investment has significant potential for impact.
Enterprises are not only investing in sustainability in their own operations but also extending across their supply chains. Salesforce has achieved net zero across its full value chain and has achieved 100% renewable energy for its operations. IKEA has pledged to become climate positive by reducing more greenhouse gas emissions than the IKEA value chain emits.
Consumers are demanding that companies be sustainable. In a global survey, 87% of consumers said companies should integrate more environmental considerations into their products, services, and operations. Apple is already carbon neutral across its global operations, and by 2030, every Apple device sold will have a net-zero climate impact.
And Patagonia has embedded sustainability into its business since the beginning: “We are in business to save our home planet”. For the last 35 years, they have pledged 1% of sales to the preservation and restoration of the natural environment.
National governments are also stepping forward to invest in sustainability goals. Finland leads larger nations with its goal to become net zero by 2035. In Europe, Iceland and Austria are looking to reach net zero by 2040, with Germany and Sweden pushing the date for carbon neutrality to 2045.
Yale’s Environmental Performance Index (EPI) takes a wider view than net zero emissions and measures nations across 32 performance indicators from climate change mitigation to air quality. The EPI shows that investments have impact. High-level sustainability efforts—political commitment, media coverage, regulations—can deliver results. Scandinavian countries like Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Norway show strong results across measurements.
Cities are also an important place for sustainability investments as more than half of the world’s population lives in cities. There are many opportunities to invest in reducing emissions and adapting to our changing climate. For example, Chicago just completed the largest wireless smart streetlight program in the US with new fixtures that are reported to use 50-75% less electricity.
Individuals can make a difference too. We can all take steps to lower our carbon footprints with these simple steps. And young people are joining together through activism, education, and innovation to fight the climate crisis.
We are all in this together. Every investment, no matter what size, can collectively make a difference to help restore and rebuild a healthy planet for the next generation.
Learn more @ Earth Day 2022