Kevin Rabinovitch, Mars: Climate change is both a “problem that can be solved” and “opportunity we can deliver against”

Author:
Ilario D'Amato
25 November 2015

Kevin Rabinovitch, Global Director of Sustainability for Mars, Inc

NEW YORK: Global food manufacturer Mars is “taking a climate leadership role: we are fully convinced of the science behind climate change, and the direction is pretty unambiguous,” says Kevin RabinovitchGlobal Director of Sustainability for Mars, in The Climate Group’s latest Climate TV interview.

Mars is one of 43 leading companies that are part of The Climate Group’s campaign in partnership with CDP, RE100, which is helping businesses deliver their commitment to go 100% renewable. “The reason why we became part of RE100 is that there is a real problem,” confirms Kevin Rabinovitch, “and we’re pretty clear on what the cause of the problem is – greenhouse gas emissions.”

BUSINESS CLIMATE ACTION

The company is reducing emissions in its own operations, while gradually increasing renewable energy supply to its sites worldwide. The ultimate goal is to achieve 100% fossil-fuel free energy consumption by 2040. As a first step, Mars has set a target of a 25% carbon emission reduction by 2015.

“One of the first and more important things we can do, based on the sort of business we are, is to shift our factories’ energy sources from fossil to renewable and low carbon energy sources,” underlines Kevin Rabinovitch.

Mars is run by five principles: quality, responsibility, mutuality, efficiency and freedom. “Sustainability – andrenewable energy as a subset of that – really plays across several of these principles,” says the Director.

“The efficiency principle is an obvious one, which we accomplish by using resources at their full and wasting nothing,” expressed in the company’s focus on energy efficiency. Renewable energy, he says, “speaks to a couple of other principles, particularly mutuality, which is to do what is right not only for ourselves but for our business partners and our extended supply chains.”

SUSTAINABLE BUSINESSES

On why a global company such as Mars decided to invest so much in tackling climate change, Kevin Rabinovitch explains: “We have two fundamental choices. Either we can prepare for a low carbon economy, or we can prepare for the consequences of a high carbon economy.

“Our view is the things we can be doing now to move toward a low carbon economy are not only easier and less costly, but frankly they are more fun than some of the consequences of not taking action.”

Joining RE100, the company has signaled the will for collaborative climate action among forward-thinking businesses: “We just need to change the momentum, the trajectory,” explains Kevin Rabinovitch, “not just of the leading businesses and the leading states and regions, but of everybody. The challenge is not sufficient, if we are the only one doing it.”

Explaining why so many companies are getting into climate action, he says: “They are seeing more and more examples of others doing it, and it’s helping people mentally break through the feasibility barriers.”

CORPORATE BENEFITS

As showcased during Climate Week NYC 2015, which convenes leading businesses and governments on a common platform to spur climate action, companies are increasingly recognizing the economic benefits of going green. “Sustainability is really one of the big reasons we’ve started to talk more vocally,” confirms Kevin Rabinovitch, “and our work on climate is a great example of that.

RE100 is a great platform for us to amplify that message, and to help provide that sense of comfort for other companies and other entities that this is a problem that can be solvedan opportunity we can deliver against.”

With the crucial international climate talks starting in less than a week in Paris, corporates have a critical role to play in showing how business can influence the international dialogue around climate change. Today for example, 277 companies with US$6 trillion in revenue and 144 investors with US$20 trillion in assets under management, called for a clear, ambitious climate deal at COP21.

“At some level, policymakers are maybe hesitant about making commitments consistent with the science,” says Kevin Rabinowitch, “either because they don’t believe there is economic feasibility and a rational behind some of those policies, or even if they believe there is economic rationality they are worried about constituents not feeling the same way.

“The more we as corporations, and ultimately we as citizens, can send the message to the policymakers that actually we welcome these changes, the more this can strengthen the role of RE100 and all the other commitments.”

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