The Next Round of Corporate GHG Reductions

Katie Ware | February 14,2013

By: Katie Ware, EDF and Ryan Schuchard, BSR

"For the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change," said President Barack Obama at his State of The Union address Tuesday night, pointing to renewed vigor in U.S. efforts to tackle climate change. What does that mean for corporations?

Most companies are already managing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in their operations and want to do more. But for many, progress slows as the low-hanging fruit is picked. The really big opportunities sometimes require a larger investment, but budgets remain tight and energy projects compete for attention with other sustainability issues.

However, as climate policy moves back on the national agenda, companies are finding that renewed attention from stakeholders will push them to go further. As they do, they should be looking at two areas:

  • Advanced efficiency initiatives
    Many companies already have teams in place to manage energy efficiency. They have installed lighting occupancy sensors and raised temperature set points to save energy. However, there is value in looking further – to new financing mechanisms for efficiency investments, employee engagement initiatives and more efficient industrial operations. To find these opportunities, many companies—including Google, Boeing, Verizon and Pfizer—work with EDF Climate Corps, which has found an average of $1 million in savings for each participating organization.
  • "Scope 3" supplier engagement:
    One of the biggest levers for GHG reduction is in companies’ supply chains, where they can influence dozens to hundreds of organizations to reduce emissions through a single program. As the recent Carbon Disclosure Project supply chain report shows, this is becoming more common, and expected, as companies begin to use the Scope 3 value chain framework in earnest. Companies can start by conducting a hotspot assessment of GHG impacts in their value chain, and those who already have can work with suppliers to help them develop action plans. BSR’s Supplier Carbon Performance initiative offers a turnkey approach for helping companies do so in China.

How can companies prioritize between advanced efficiency and supplier engagement initiatives?

Many companies should be doing both, since the two drive value in different parts of the organization. But most important is that companies move forward in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions however they can. They’re sure to find the effort pays off – for the bottom line and for the planet.

How to get involved

EDF Climate Corps
EDF Climate Corps taps the talent of tomorrow’s leaders to save energy, money and the environment. The program places specially-trained fellows in companies to identify and implement energy efficiency projects over the course of a 10-week summer fellowship. Each fellow’s work plan is tailored to the company’s specific needs and opportunities, which is why even the most advanced companies continue to participate year after year. Applications for summer 2013 are due by February 28, so sign up now. Check out this short video to see what Google, Yahoo!, REI and others have to say about the program.

For more information about EDF Climate Corps, contact Scott Wood at swood@edf.org.

BSR’s Supplier Carbon Performance (SCP) Initiative
The Supplier Carbon Performance initiative leads companies from asking suppliers for information about emissions to helping suppliers actually reduce them in practice. Building on the two-year Energy Efficiency Partnership (EEP) pilot project, BSR is launching the SCP initiative to help China-based suppliers develop skills for technical energy management and acquaint them with GHG emissions practices. SCP also adds several resources that suppliers articulated needs for during EEP, all local to China: on-site factory consulting, group trainings organized by common sectors and situations, and a diagnostic tool for quickly evaluating efficiency improvement opportunities at the outset.

For more information, contact Ryan Schuchard at scp@bsr.org.