Everyone has a role to play in the fight against climate change, but individual actions are a drop in the bucket compared to what large institutions and companies can accomplish by altering their business practices.
A 2017 report found that just 100 companies are responsible for most of the world's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Achieving the goals set out in the Paris climate agreement — the international pact to limit global warming below 2 degrees Celsius (ideally 1.5 degrees Celsius) compared to pre-industrial levels — will require the private sector to shift away from unsustainable habits.
Thankfully, some key players have risen to the challenge.
From carbon offsetting programs to waste reduction and clean energy initiatives, here are four companies paving the way for a more sustainable future.
1. Formula 1®
The automotive industry has always been a key contributor to climate change, but Formula 1 is firmly committed to moving beyond this bleak track record.
As part of a new strategy designed to become carbon-neutral by 2030, the racing giant has made significant strides toward reducing its carbon footprint and introducing sustainably fueled hybrid engines within the next four years.
In Canada, F1 has also implemented a series of green initiatives, including solar panels, which store enough solar energy in one year to offset the GHGs brought about by the Montreal Grand Prix race, the company states.
Other installations, such as recycling bins, have been introduced to facilitate waste management during events. Meanwhile, F1 requires fans and guests to travel to racing circuits through public transit and carpooling.
F1 and Global Citizen have announced a new partnership with a three-pillar approach to protect the planet, deliver equity for all through systemic change, and ensure more young people can access education following the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
You may know Ikea as the world’s largest furniture retailer, but its recent sustainability record is just as worthy of your attention.
The Swedish company has supported various conservation initiatives, including the purchase of acres of forest land in the US and Europe in an effort to prevent land fragmentation and protect endangered species.
Last fall, Ikea offered to buy back furniture from its consumers as part of a scheme launched across 27 countries. A series of similar commitments followed, the most recent of which is a pledge to sell spare furniture parts.
The company has also promised to rely exclusively on recycled and renewable materials by 2030.
“In a world of limited resources, we want to move away from the linear model of ‘take, make, waste,’” Lena Pripp-Kovac, head of sustainability at the Inter Ikea Group, said in a statement. “Our ambition is to inspire and enable our customers to live better everyday lives, within the limits of the planet, so the materials we use are a key aspect of this.”
In 2019, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) recognized US clothing brand Patagonia as a Champion of the Earth for its unwavering commitment to sustainability.
The company, which was founded by world-renowned environmentalist Yvon Chouinard, has made environmental protection a key component of its entire business model.
This includes using recycled materials in 70% of products, a share that could climb to 100% by 2025, according to UNEP.
Since 1985, the company also donates 1% of its sales revenue each year to conservation and environmental protection programs.
These efforts were consolidated through the creation of the 1% for the Planet initiative, which encourages other companies to follow suit.
In a world where fast fashion thrives on exploitative and environmentally destructive practices, global luxury group Kering leads the way toward a paradigm shift.
In 2017, the company unveiled its 2025 Sustainability Strategy to align its practices with the United Nations’ Global Goals. The plan includes a 50% reduction in carbon emissions, the implementation of sustainable material sourcing solutions, and the introduction of a “supplied index of sustainability” to ensure compliance with animal welfare and traceability standards.
Kering has also launched a one-of-a-kind, open-access course on sustainable luxury fashion in collaboration with the London College of Fashion.
The company continues to rank among the world’s top 10 sustainable companies, positioning itself as a true leader in the fashion industry.