How are businesses fighting climate change?
Fighting climate change is a pretty big challenge. And that’s why it needs collective action, not just from individuals, but governments and businesses as well. At Earthly we believe that businesses have the power but also the responsibility to mitigate their damage to the environment. Many businesses are catching on, but not quick enough – the 2018 IPCC report on climate change suggests that we must start to reduce carbon levels before 2030, in order to avoid irreversible consequences. Brewdog, Microsoft and Patagonia are all considered leading businesses, with sustainable business intentions. They are ahead of the curve and are making change now – they can be used as inspiration for other business and individuals alike.
Recently BrewDog, the world’s largest craft beer producer, announced that it is now ‘carbon negative’ – removing twice as much carbon from the environment as it emits per year. At the same time it is ensuring that its activities as a company are moving away from carbon emissions, with the goal to eventually emit zero CO2.
In BrewDog’s recently released sustainability report, they pledge to have planted 1 million trees by 2022, forming what they call the BrewDog forest which is 2050 acres in the Scottish Highlands . As well as this, BrewDog have developed a Carbon Reduction plan: with all of the electricity used to brew their beer in the UK coming from wind power, turning by-products from their brewing processes into alternative fuels and electrifying their fleet of delivery vehicles. Overall their £30 million plan will mean that they are the first beer company, and in fact on of the first company of their size at all that can claim to be carbon negative with such confidence.
Microsoft is a huge company with influence all around the world. This makes it all the more impressive that they have committed to becoming carbon negative by the year 2030 . At the beginning of 2020 they put together an action plan of ways in which they were going to fight climate change. Within this action plan was also a pledge to become water positive by 2030 – meaning Microsoft will replenish more water than they use, alongside reducing water consumption as a company. As well as this, they are committing to becoming a zero-waste company by 2030 – another big milestone considering the fact that E-waste makes up 70% of all hazardous waste in landfills around the globe.
Additional to this practical action as a company, Microsoft also intends to use their advancements and developments within computing. They intend to do this by developing a ‘planetary computer’ – a data hub that aggregates global environmental data with the ability to be added to from all around the globe. It will also utilise machine learning and help to develop the best ways to preserve and restore nature. Central to this is the user-inputed data which is unique to each locality allowing the computer and any scientists using it to have information otherwise unavailable to it. For this year, Microsoft has committed to using a mixture of nature-based and technology-based carbon removal strategies, and to share the resultant best practices and science they develop from these. 
Patagonia is an excellent advocate of climate issues and has even gone as far as to advertise against buying their clothing in order to raise awareness about the climate impacts of high levels of consumption. The company famous released a full page advertisement in the Times on Black Friday 2019 to highlight the fact that “each piece of Patagonia clothing, whether or not it’s organic or uses recycled materials, emits several times its weight in greenhouse gases, generates at least another half garment’s worth of scrap, and draws down copious amounts of freshwater now growing scarce everywhere on the planet” . This campaign featured images of one of their jackets, accompanied by the slogan ‘Don’t Buy This Jacket”. This was also used to highlight their ‘Common Thread Initiative’ which shows a commitment to repairing Patagonia items that get damaged or worn, as well as prompting a pledge from consumers to consumer less, and get items repaired instead of buying new. Reusing Patoagonia items through second-hand stores such as eBay is also suggested to reduce waste. As well as this scheme, all of the cotton that Patagonia uses is certified organic by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) .
To mark Patagonia’s efforts in fighting the climate emergency, the UN awarded the brand with a Champions of the Earth Award in 2019 . This highlights their commitment to sustainability and their advocacy of the planet’s resources. This award was in the Entrepreneurial Vision category, and should be seen as an example to other companies, that success doesn’t necessarily need to be driven by profits but can be led by action. However, Patagonia’s efforts aren’t newfounded, but stretch back throughout the company’s history, as it has always had the outlook to act as an ethical business.. Since 1986, the company has donated at least 1% of its annual sales towards protecting and restoring the natural environment. In 2002, the founder of Patagonia – Yvon Chouinard – helped to found the 1% For the Planet scheme which helps other companies emulate this initiative .
These three brands are demonstrating that it is possible to be both positive for the planet and successful in the business world. But the best part is that it’s not a competition – these brands can be seen as inspiration for ways in which we can fight climate change. Whether on an individual basis, or as part of a forward-thinking business, these businesses fighting climate change should encourage us and be commended.
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