Amy Davidsen, Executive Director, North America at The Climate Group was joined by Elysa Hammond, SVP of Environmental Stewardship Clif Bar & Company; Kevin Rabinovitch, Global VP Sustainability, Mars; and Karol Gobczynski, Head of Climate & Energy, Ingka Group (IKEA) who provided insights from their experience in implementing climate-friendly systems in each of their companies.
With just under 200 virtual attendees, including representatives from The Estee Lauder Company, H&M Group, McKinsey & Company, Mahindra Group, Nike, and Global Citizen, we are strengthened in the knowledge that we can still move forward on climate action during this uncertain and difficult time.
Here is what we’ve learned:
As made clear by the panelists, while the COVID-19 pandemic has a significant impact on people, communities, and businesses around the world, companies remain committed to climate action as part of a long-term business strategy.
Karol Gobczynski said: “When it comes to climate, we know that we cannot slow down and we need to think long term. Especially during this recovery package time, it is important to put in climate action to create a more fair and inclusive society and think long term when we are making decisions about the recovery.”
Kevin Rabinovitch shared: “We are all doing all kinds of things that we thought were unimaginable. I think this idea of recalibrating what is possible, although we have unfortunately been forced into it by a tragedy, the opportunity is to take it as a bit of a wakeup call that we don’t necessarily have to make slow, creeping, incremental progress on things that we care about and we know climate is something that we all could and should care about.”
One of the biggest takeaways from the discussion was the reminder that collaboration and cooperation is not just helpful in addressing the climate crisis, but critical as climate consequences pose as a global threat.
Elysa Hammond said: “When I first heard about [The Climate Group’s programs], I thought we’re a small company relative to big companies, what value would we bring to RE100 or EV100? But when I talked to The Climate Group team and also thought about our mission being to build the movement, I’ve been so happy that we have joined. It has provided an international platform and community to be part of. We’re learning from companies like IKEA and some of the amazing members. I feel like this is a very tangible way to be a part of the movement.”
Karol Gobczynski shared how IKEA approaches collaboration, “For us, working together with others is a crucial part of moving this agenda further to create much more inclusive and helpful regulations that are enabling more people to be part of this transition.”
Companies must shift mindsets in order to truly meet the demands of climate science.
Kevin Rabinovitch was consistently helpful in articulating this: “The ‘RE’ part [of RE100] is great but the ‘100’ is the more powerful part. When you’re challenged to deliver 100%, that kicks you out of an incremental mindset. It makes you say, ‘I need a different strategy.’ The fact that our targets are calling on 100% renewable energy, that meant we had to go offsite and if not for that 100% target, we never would have thought about doing 200MW wind farms in Texas and things like that. There is real power in that 100.”
As for next steps in the climate action agenda:
Karol Gobczynski expressed: “Where we see a unique opportunity is about this onsite renewable energy generation. Where we can turn many buildings, homes, offices into renewable energy power stations which can mobilize significant investment into the renewable energy sector if there are regulations which are enabling and powering individuals to become renewable energy consumers. Business at the end is ‘find the need, fuel the need.”
Kevin Rabinovitch said: “Areas we’re looking at next, we’ve done many if not all of the countries where we have a large footprint. We’re looking into working with consortiums with some of our suppliers where we work together with them and collectively have enough volume to get the best economics on a deal.”
What we learned from this dynamic discussion was summed up by Elysa Hammond: “[Climate action] is staying on everyone’s to-do list, some things might slow down but we’re committed for the long term and connecting the dots between clean air, climate action, and people’s health really sparks a new way of thinking. And I think what people realize is we need to think in a transformative way, incremental is not going to do the job.”