Joe Biden can be the president for a sustainable private sector

February 15, 2021 by  
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Joe Biden can be the president for a sustainable private sector Lisa Woll Mon, 02/15/2021 – 01:00 Like no president in recent times, Joe Biden assumed office facing multiple interlocking crises. His ability to achieve his agenda will require action from key sectors across the country, including the investment and business community. Biden already has rejoined the Paris Agreement, committed to advocating for environmental justice and rolled out a government-wide focus on racial justice. He is advocating for a higher minimum wage, among other policies to address economic inequality. To accomplish this ambitious agenda, we believe the time is right for the president to establish a White House Office of Sustainable Finance and Business. It would create a focal point to engage the private sector to contribute to current and future priorities and to further accelerate the private sector’s focus on sustainability. The Office of Sustainable Finance and Business would develop a national strategy for U.S. leadership in sustainable finance and business. Here’s how it could work: The Office of Sustainable Finance and Business would develop a national strategy for U.S. leadership in sustainable finance and business through collaboration with the fast-growing network of businesses and organizations promoting such goals. Here’s why it can’t wait: The magnitude of the challenges facing the United States requires that the new administration leverage all sectors of society. Biden needs the private sector to help move this important work forward. This new office would significantly strengthen the administration’s government-wide approach to tackling urgent social and environmental issues. The sustainable investment community already is engaged in this effort, channeling dollars to companies with better environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices. One in every three professionally managed dollars in the United States — $17 trillion — is invested with an ESG focus. Sustainable investors were among the early voices urging companies to take action on climate change. They engage with companies to improve policies on issues ranging from human rights to diversity and water use. They also have been long-term investors in community banks and credit unions that are addressing economic and racial inequality in urban, rural and Indigenous communities. In parallel, more companies are embracing the shift to sustainable business practices that deliver important societal benefits as well as a strategic advantage. This includes committing to net-zero climate targets and changing their business models, products and services to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy. In the last year, leading companies have made new commitments to diversity, equity and inclusion. Today, 90 percent of S&P 500 companies publish sustainability reports, up from 20 percent in 2011. Companies are being urged to transition from a shareholder primacy model to one focused on multiple stakeholders, including employees, customers, communities, the environment and shareholders. This is often referred to as stakeholder capitalism. In a July speech, Biden noted that “it’s way past time to put an end to shareholder capitalism.” We agree that this shift is overdue. A new White House Office of Sustainable Finance and Business would accelerate the growth of sustainable investment and catalyze the shift to stakeholder capitalism, both of which are critical contributions to Biden’s pledge to “build back better.” Advancing policies that support the growth of a sustainable American economy also supports U.S. economic competitiveness and our broader national interest. The office, in fact, could serve as an important tool for the restoration of American “soft power,” decimated by the past administration. Such an office also would reflect the priorities of an increasing number of Americans, particularly millennials and members of Gen Z, who expect that the places at which they shop and invest will be focused on positive outcomes for society and the environment. A White House office also will allow sustainable investors and companies to partner with the administration to achieve a more sustainable and equitable economy. By highlighting the critical role of the private sector, Biden can further drive alignment of investment capital and corporate actions with his administration’s policy priorities. Pull Quote The Office of Sustainable Finance and Business would develop a national strategy for U.S. leadership in sustainable finance and business. Contributors Aron Cramer Topics Policy & Politics Collective Insight BSR Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz photocollage

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Community investments pay dividends

February 15, 2021 by  
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Community investments pay dividends John Davies Mon, 02/15/2021 – 00:00 This article originally appeared in the State of Green Business 2021. You can download the entire report here . Corporate community investment historically has been the realm of philanthropy and volunteerism departments, but there are a growing number of examples where direct investment by businesses benefits operations as well as the communities in which they serve. In 2019, the Business Roundtable redefined the purpose of a U.S. corporation as being “to promote an economy that serves all Americans.” In a survey of 2,511 registered U.S. voters by Real Clear Opinion Research, 77 percent of respondents agreed: “The purpose of a corporation is to maximize financial returns for its shareholders, but also to deliver value to customers, invest in employees, deal ethically with suppliers and support the communities where they work.” When it comes to investing in employees, Tyson Foods faces the challenge of its plants being predominantly in rural areas with limited labor pools, and with many of its front-line team members recent immigrants. To address this labor shortage, the company launched the Upward Academy , offering free and accessible classes in English as a Second Language, High School Equivalency, U.S. citizenship, financial literacy and digital literacy. The program is still in its early stages but all signs point to the investment paying off in terms of employee engagement and retention, and leading to a stronger local community. Purchasing and sourcing strategies are also getting realigned to support local communities as well as smallholder farmers around the globe. Supply experts at Sodexo, a French foodservice and facilities management company, have worked with the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council to target local and seasonal produce, working with local farmers and producers around each of its client sites. This approach evaluates environmental, social and economic impacts on the community and helps local businesses to thrive, which in turn benefits the company’s clients. Corporate sourcing decisions can drive change for communities around the world. Companies such as Mars and Griffith Foods have established sustainable sourcing programs that seek to create societal value while generating business benefit. As noted in its 2020 annual report, Griffith receives high-quality raw materials from trusted partners while farmers receive on-farm and in-community support from a consistent buyer. The alignment of capabilities and community is a growing business trend as companies move away from pure checkbook philanthropy. In these and other examples, community investments typically start with nonprofit engagement, aligning with on-the-ground resources that provide local knowledge and connections. The alignment of capabilities and community is a growing business trend as companies move away from pure checkbook philanthropy. Companies such as HSBC and PwC have shifted to a more strategic approach by integrating their giving and volunteering. HSBC envisions a Venn diagram of urgent needs and financial literacy, where the overlap identifies opportunities to help the underserved develop soft skills to boost employability and financial capability. PwC took a similar approach to combining philanthropy with volunteering, providing employees paid time to support educational initiatives in entrepreneurship and financial literacy, leveraging their consulting skills to better the community. AT&T has reinvented its philanthropic approach so that it looks more like its store franchise model. AT&T Believes is a localized effort to create positive change in the communities where it operates, letting local employees determine how to best have an impact. Wells Fargo has launched pitch competitions to fund breakthrough ideas that promise new ways to create urgently needed affordable housing nationwide. Such initiatives are part and parcel of recent efforts to measure the social contribution of business. There are currently few standards to guide and measure community investment and other social impacts.  Danone, Patagonia and others have been certified as B Corporations , identifying them as businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Lab, the organization behind the voluntary standard, offers an assessment tool that can start companies on their journey toward strategic community investment. Pull Quote The alignment of capabilities and community is a growing business trend as companies move away from pure checkbook philanthropy. Topics State of Green Business Report Corporate Social Responsibility Social Justice Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Image: Shutterstock/Rawpixel

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A tidal wave of new carbon emissions data soon will be upon us

February 9, 2021 by  
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A tidal wave of new carbon emissions data soon will be upon us Ian Kearns Tue, 02/09/2021 – 02:00 A radical increase in available carbon emissions data may be just around the corner. Should it happen within a matter of months as proponents hope, its effects will spread around the world to dramatic effect. Cities failing to measure and publish their emissions data will find themselves under renewed and intense scrutiny. Slow-to-change investors and greenwashers in the business community will lose their cover to continue propping up the fossil fuel economy. And citizens and consumers will have the kind of granular information they need to more effectively target the decision-makers and brands standing in the way of a sustainable future. Central to this shift is likely to be is a collaborative endeavor called Climate TRACE . Climate TRACE (Tracking Real-Time Atmospheric Carbon Emissions) is a project to use satellite image processing, remote sensing technologies, machine learning and artificial intelligence to monitor worldwide human-made greenhouse gas emissions in real time. Unlike other approaches to monitoring emissions, it plans to attribute emissions to specific sources, whether these be individual factories, ships, power plants or a range of other facilities and all its data will be placed in the public domain. The initiative is the product of a nine-organization collaboration that has the backing of climate campaigner and former U.S. Vice President Al Gore. Among those involved are nonprofits including Carbon Tracker, CarbonPlan, Hudson Carbon, OceanCarbon, RMI, WattTime and the Earthrise Alliance, and tech companies Bluesky Analytics and Hypervine. Each partner brings a relevant monitoring technology to the table and expertise or a track record working in a key industry such as transport, agriculture or the energy sector. Ultimately, all these impacts from increased transparency will have to be accommodated. If successfully on stream by summer 2021 as its designers hope, the service should drive not only increased transparency but also increased accountability. For the unprepared, the damage could be severe. The kind of Reddit-coordinated collective action by retail investors that disrupted stock prices recently soon may be copied by ethical investors armed with highly specific real-time emissions data to achieve similar effects. Some previously untargeted companies, brands, institutional investors and geographies will be thrust into the limelight as central problems in the battle against climate change. Their asset values and prospects will be damaged by sudden negative shifts in both consumer and investor sentiment as a result.   Those that up to now have been talking a good game on environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting while failing to deliver in practice are likely to be exposed as greenwashers, sometimes brutally and at high speed. And data sets currently used to track a company’s ESG performance also will need to be radically overhauled. As a result, we can expect to see personal, political and business incentives tilt in favor of more action to combat climate change. Faster private- and public-sector innovation to get emissions down should follow. Sustainable investments should grow as divestment from carbon-intensive industries intensifies. And the newly available data should make it easier for governments to enforce environmental laws and for climate change mitigation measures and aid flows to be more efficiently financed and targeted at the areas of greatest beneficial impact. More controversially, forensically targeted climate activism may spill over more frequently into legally contentious areas and in some jurisdictions, the authorities may double down on their already evident efforts to badge environmental activists as security threats . Climate-centered legal disputes will proliferate as climate-impacted regions, entities and communities increasingly turn to the law to sue carbon-emitting ones. Even the COP26 climate talks, scheduled for November in Glasgow, Scotland, may be made harder as transparency on emissions puts whole countries in the dock for not meeting emissions targets, triggering fresh contention over which countries need to do more and which need to pay more for a faster transition to net zero. Ultimately, all these impacts from increased transparency will have to be accommodated. The technologies to acquire and share new sources of real-time data on environmental conditions are advancing and proliferating at speed. Satellite image processing systems and the billions of remote sensing and monitoring devices making up the internet of things (IoT) are one reason. But many foresee an internet of citizens (IoC) playing an important role in the not-too-distant future, too. A “Digital Technology and the Planet” report from the Royal Society in London recently suggested citizens soon could be use their mobile devices to capture and share emissions data in real time. This “citizen science,” the report argued, would “give everyone an active role and empower citizens to contribute to building data-driven systems for the planet.” The age of radically transparent and democratised carbon emissions data is coming. The only remaining questions relate to how soon, and which leaders and organizations will be ready. Pull Quote Ultimately, all these impacts from increased transparency will have to be accommodated. Topics Finance & Investing Reporting Carbon Removal ESG Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Local communities want Trump’s border wall torn down

January 29, 2021 by  
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On his first day in office, President Joe Biden ordered construction to halt on Trump’s infamous border wall. But environmentalists and communities living along the border want him to go much further, tearing it down and reversing the wall’s damage. Donald Trump set aside $15 billion for his “big beautiful wall” between the southern border of the U.S. and Mexico. About 455 miles had been constructed out of a planned 738 miles by the time Trump left office. The former president got his hands on the money by declaring a national emergency in 2019 and diverting tax dollars that would have otherwise gone to defense or counter-drug programs. But he didn’t spend a lot of time assessing the environmental and cultural impact. Hundreds of miles of land have been blasted and bulldozed, including protected public land and sites sacred to Native Americans. Related: Trump administration disregards border wall’s environmental impact “It’s a disaster, a mess, the suspended laws must be put back on the books to give border communities equal protection, and every section looked at carefully so that it can be torn down in a coordinated and responsible way, and the damage addressed immediately,” said Dan Mills, the Sierra Club’s borderlands program manager, as reported by The Guardian . Community leaders are asking Biden to cancel outstanding wall-building contracts, send experts to assess damage, tear down the wall whenever possible and clean up all the metal, barbed wire and concrete. They also urge the president to rescind waivers suspending 84 federal laws pertaining to public lands, endangered species , clean air and water and Native American rights. They’ve asked him to withdraw lawsuits against private landowners lodged to seize their land by declaring eminent domain. “It was a complete waste of money and poorly thought out, and is a constant unsightly reminder of Trump’s ugly approach to Latin America,” said retired professor Sylvia Ramirez. “The wall should never have gone up, we tried to fight it, and now it will be very difficult to undo.” Ramirez has relatives buried in historic cemeteries which are now cut off between the international border and Trump’s 30-foot wall. Next month, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case brought by the ACLU, Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Commission about the legality of diverting billions from the Department of Defense without Congress’ okay. Via The Guardian Image via White House Archive

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Biden to issue new directives on climate change

January 27, 2021 by  
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President Joe Biden is expected to issue additional executive orders by end of the day today that will kickstart the process of combating climate change . Part of the directives will be an executive order requiring federal agencies to determine how expansive a ban on new oil and gas leasing on federal land should be. Others include preserving 30% of federal lands and waters and making the climate crisis an issue of national security. President Biden campaigned on the promise of turning around the climate situation in the country. The directives to be issued today will mark the beginning of the process. However, even as the president and his team implement measures to combat climate change, experts say that executive orders can only do so much. Related: Biden signs executive order to rejoin Paris Agreement According to Jonathan H. Adler , a law professor at the Case Western Reserve University, the administration will need the goodwill of Congress to get any significant environmental policies in motion. The president has previously said that he has a $2 trillion climate change agenda , which he intends to implement over his tenure. At the moment, Congress is only slightly tilted toward Democrats; however, some of the issues within his agenda may still prove hard to pass. Tim Profeta, director of the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University, was among the group that delivered Biden’s climate policy blueprint. Profeta said, “The Biden administration can do quite a bit to start to put the country on the right trajectory with its own authorities.” On his first day in office, President Biden signed several executive orders, including ending the Keystone XL pipeline project based on environmental concerns. The new executive directives will now call on agencies to consider how much federal land and waters should be reserved from mining and other economic activities. The president is also expected to sign an order to preserve 30% of federal land by 2030. He could also create a task force focused on reducing emissions nationally, and he is likely to sign an order to make climate change an issue of national security. Via The New York Times Image via Will Myers

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Amazon aims to clean up aviation

January 27, 2021 by  
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Amazon aims to clean up aviation Katie Fehrenbacher Wed, 01/27/2021 – 02:00 The aviation sector in a pandemic has 99 problems. And climate change remains a big one.  The industry aims to build back better, aware that it’s one of the few sectors that hasn’t yet embraced electrification. The key solutions today are biofuels, only displacing a mere fraction of fossil fuels-based jet fuel, and offsets. But in reality, with revenues and ticket sales way down, there’s only so much commercial airlines actually will do to meet decarbonization goals. And if you look at the aviation industry’s historical pledges to add in bio-based jet fuels, before the pandemic, it’s fallen woefully short. Enter air cargo. More specifically, Amazon’s air shipping business, which along with its entire global logistics supply chain juggernaut is booming.  A startup called Infinium announced it has raised a round of funding including backing from Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund. Infinium makes biofuel by taking hydrogen made with clean power and electrolysis, combining it with carbon dioxide and running it through two thermochemical processes — turning it into a replacement fuel for airplanes, ships and large trucks. Infinium, spun out of another company called Greyrock Energy , says because the biofuel (dubbed an “electrofuel”) is made with clean energy and CO2, it’s a “net-zero carbon” fuel. The fuel isn’t yet being made commercially just yet, and it’ll take at least three years to build a factory and start making it at any kind of scale. Economic production at scale is the key metric for biofuel makers.  Still, Amazon’s support is the latest indicator that the logistics giant is eyeing ways to clean up aviation. Amazon Vice President of Worldwide Sustainability Kara Hurst released a statement about the investment: Amazon created The Climate Pledge Fund to support the development of technologies and services that will enable Amazon and other companies to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement 10 years early — achieving net-zero carbon by 2040. Infinium’s electrofuels solution has real potential to help decarbonize transport that carries heavier loads and travels long distances, including air and freight, as well as heavy trucks. This isn’t Amazon’s first investment in biofuels. Last summer Amazon announced that it plans to buy 6 million gallons of bio-jet fuel via a division of Shell and produced by World Energy, a big biodiesel producer. The companies said the jet fuel will be made from agricultural waste fats and oils (such as used cooking oil and inedible fats from beef processing). The world of bio-jet fuel is just getting started. Shell is emerging as a player, but so is Neste, a Finnish company that also makes a renewable diesel product for trucking. Last year, Neste delivered its first batch of sustainable aviation fuel via pipeline for airlines refueling at San Francisco International Airport to use. DHL Express is using Neste’s sustainable aviation fuel at SFO.  Amazon is worried about the carbon intensity of the fossil fuel-based jet fuel it uses because it’s trying to get to zero carbon by 2040. Air shipping, a growing sector, is the most carbon-intensive way to ship a product. As Amazon Air Director Raoul Sreenivasan said at our VERGE 20 online conference in October: “The world is watching what we do. And we believe we have a responsibility to use our scale for good and make the appropriate investments to achieve this goal.” Because bio-jet fuel is at such an early stage, Amazon can’t just go out and switch over its entire air fleet to the stuff. But there are a couple of things Amazon can do as the industry is still maturing. Amazon is already electrifying the ground air equipment at its airport facilities. It’s also putting solar up on buildings at the airports. Most important, Amazon can use its heft to help move the sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) industry forward. As Sreenivasan said about SAF at VERGE 20: “Our hope is that by making an investment and a commitment that others will partner with us and cause somewhat of a ripple effect in the industry that will drive demand and supply.” Essentially, if Amazon’s moving in, hopefully the rest of aviation will follow. With more supply deals and investments in new players, we’ll see if the logistics world leader can green up one of the hardest-to-abate sectors: aviation.  Want more great analysis of electric and sustainable transport? Sign up for Transport Weekly , our free email newsletter. Topics Transportation & Mobility Supply Chain Aviation Logisitics Featured Column Driving Change Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Biden and the future of clean energy politics

January 22, 2021 by  
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Biden and the future of clean energy politics Sarah Golden Fri, 01/22/2021 – 01:00 Have you heard about the clean energy triangle?  The theory goes that in order to rapidly deploy clean energy, you need three elements: technology; policy; and finance. When these components are integrated, we’re able to thoughtfully accelerate the speed and scale of clean technologies. The technology is there and is getting better. The finance is following as investors see there’s money to be made. The only missing piece, before this week, has been policy.  The inauguration of Joe Biden as president is the dawn of a new political era; for the first time, the stars are aligning for the clean energy sector to unleash its full potential.  Biden’s position on clean energy is as diametrically opposed to his predecessor as this analyst can fathom. On his first day, the new president signed executive orders killing the controversial Keystone XL pipeline and recommitting the United States to the Paris climate accord. As a candidate, Biden called for 100 percent clean energy in the U.S. by 2035. He’s integrating climate experts across all departments in “the largest team ever assembled inside the White House to tackle global warming.” The political sea change is larger than the whims of a single politician. It’s a reflection of the growing, influential force of the clean energy sector itself that will be difficult for serious politicians to ignore forevermore.  How clean energy pros helped POTUS land his new job Biden didn’t always make clean energy his issue. He responded to the public’s growing concerns about climate change and listened to experts about its immense economic potential.  That didn’t happen by accident. The clean energy sector has been growing and maturing for years, and in this election cycle, it helped Biden land his dream job thanks in part to the all-volunteer organization Clean Energy for Biden (CE4B) .  “I’m not just hopeful, I’m pretty convinced [clean energy professionals were politically influential],” Dan Reicher, CE4B co-chair and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Energy, told me in a phone conversation. “They’ve shown themselves to be very capable in President Biden’s victory and made a real difference.” CE4B brought together more than 13,000 individuals in all 50 states, including 40 regional affinity groups in key locations across the county. It raised $3.2 million through more than 100 fundraisers and held hundreds of phone banks to get out the vote. The effort brought together impressive, diverse and passionate professionals  excited about leaders who understand clean energy. (Full disclosure: I’m a volunteer for CE4B.) The success of the CE4B’s organizing and campaign efforts inspired organizers to spin out a newly formed nonprofit, Clean Energy for America, which will support candidates and policies that will accelerate the clean energy transition at the state and national levels.  “Clean Energy for America is a recognition that the transformation that we need to address our clean energy challenges and opportunities needs to happen up and down the ballot,” Reicher said. “It’s not enough to work on a presidential campaign and then close up shop. We’ve got to continue on a variety of races on the national level, but we have to get really focused on state and local races as well.” It’s also a recognition that clean energy professionals are realizing their power and are here to stay. As clean energy continues to disrupt dirty energy incumbents, the sector will grow in numbers and power. It also means those in power today will decide the policy levers that shape our energy future; who benefits and in what way.  Clean Energy for America is continuing with the key tenets of CE4B, organizing around the principles of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion to ensure that the clean energy transition is a just transition for all. The long road to Clean Energy for America  Before Clean Energy for Biden, there was CleanTech for Hillary. Before that, there was CleanTech for Obama.  The evolution of the name — from cleantech to clean energy — is a reflection of the industry itself.  “We treated it as a technology play, not ready for prime time,” said Reicher, who was involved in each organization. “We now call it clean energy. We had decided we had become mainstream; we were no longer a large tech sector backed by venture capital communities. It is a large, mainstream energy sector backed by large investment firms around the U.S. and world.” Today, millions work in clean energy (about  3.4 million before the start of the pandemic), and those numbers translated into a larger network.  “We still marvel today at how fast [CE4B] grew to 13,000 people,” Reicher said. “We never saw that level of growth in the other organizations.” With the birth of Clean Energy for America, the group is poised to continue to mobilize in races quickly. That, combined with the virtuous cycle that promises millions more Americans will be employed by clean energy in the coming decades, plants a clean energy flag in the sand.  Topics Renewable Energy Energy & Climate Jobs & Careers Wind Power Solar Featured Column Power Points Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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20 C-suite sustainability champions for 2021

January 11, 2021 by  
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20 C-suite sustainability champions for 2021 Elsa Wenzel Mon, 01/11/2021 – 02:15 The big stories of 2020 were not just about a pandemic, a reckoning on racial justice, an economic calamity and the ever-imminent rise of climate change impacts. If a crisis is the ultimate test of leadership, last year provided ample narratives about leaders stepping up. These 20 C-suite executives have steered their companies forward through much disruption, providing inspiration for the possibilities of advancing sustainability, social responsibility and circular business models — sometimes all at once. Often working from home themselves, they empathized with employees and other stakeholders, some refusing to issue layoffs. They sparked uncomfortable conversations about diversity and discrimination, some pledging many millions of dollars to address lingering inequities internally and in society at large. Many celebrated with their CSOs on meeting ambitious corporate targets for 2020, while setting audacious new goals for 2025, 2030 and 2050. Each of these individuals is playing the long game and is in a strong position to move their companies and industries into what could be a more hopeful period of reconciliation, recovery and repair. Many “firsts” are on the list, especially in terms of the number of women cracking the glass ceiling in their roles. Many leaders in this cohort happen to have climbed the ranks at one company for decades. Most support science-based targets and sit on multiple boards, collaborations and advocacy groups to further industry-level sustainability goals. Mary Barra, Chairman and CEO, General Motors; Detroit LinkedIn | Company profile Raised in Detroit, as a teen Mary Barra worked as a co-op student at Pontiac Motor, where her father was a die maker. In 2014, the electrical engineer and MBA became the first woman to lead a U.S. automaker. As electric vehicles drive toward the mainstream, General Motors has come full circle as well. It mass-produced the first electric car in the 1990s, then literally crushed most of them in 2003. Now, in its eventual internal-combustion phaseout, GM can’t seem to make EVs fast enough, and 30 new models are lined up for the market for 2025. In November, the company said it will spend $7 billion more than initially planned on electric and self-driving vehicles through 2025, a total of $27 billion. Barra’s vision for General Motors includes bringing emissions, crashes and congestion down to zero while becoming the “most inclusive company in the world.” The automaker’s sustainability goals include sourcing energy only from renewable sources and getting at least half the materials in its vehicles from recycled, bio-based or renewable origins — by 2030 in the U.S. and globally by 2040. The company touts advancing responsibility for sourcing raw ingredients, such as cobalt, within its supply chain. Nearby in Flint, where at least 100,000 residents suffered exposure to lead-poisoned tap water, GM turned millions of water bottles into filler for coats for homeless people. To prevent additional layoffs as the pandemic dented sales, Barra took a temporary pay cut, and GM pivoted with partners to build ventilators and masks. Less advertised around that time, the company unveiled details about its new modular vehicle platform and Ultium batteries , designed to lower EV prices and allow a 400-mile range fully charged. Christophe Beck, CEO, Ecolab; St. Paul, Minnesota LinkedIn | Company profile Christophe Beck is brand-new as Ecolab CEO this month, taking over from retiring Doug Baker , an established advocate of the “virtuous cycles” of sustainability and profitability. In Beck’s mind, too , forwarding-thinking companies should look at natural resources not just as consumables but as recyclable goods, and then design systems and products in a way that eliminates waste. Nearly a century ago, Ecolab sold dishwasher soap with a dispenser described as its first effort to reduce waste. The next frontier is “connected chemistry,” extending the internet of things to “the internet of natural resources,” Beck said in 2019. The leader in water, hygiene and energy services sells to a diverse collection of institutions such as hospitals, food and beverage providers, as well as heavy industry including power plants and plastic manufacturers. Ecolab says it helped its customers save enough water in 2018 equivalent to the needs of 600 million people. The company, an early partner with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, has positioned water and carbon emissions as equally critical in the climate crisis. Last year, Ecolab set a goal for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, getting halfway there by 2030. Beck, trained in mechanical engineering and aerodynamics, worked at one time for the European Space Agency. Spending the past year as Ecolab’s president and COO, he joined as an executive vice president in 2008 after capping off 15 years as Nestlé’s head of corporate sales in Europe. Rosalind ‘Roz’ Brewer, COO and Group President, Starbucks Company profile Rosalind Brewer is the first African-American and woman to steer the company’s Americas operations as well its global supply chain, product and store development. Yet about six months in as president and COO at Starbucks, she was terrified in 2018 to hear that two Black men had been arrested needlessly at one of its Philadelphia stores. “This could happen to my son any day of the week,” she said. “I felt like it happened under my watch.” Starbucks ramped up its anti-bias training, closing 8,000 stores one day to do so — a prelude in 2018 to its response to the interconnected crises of 2020. In October, Starbucks announced it would ramp up hiring of people of color to at least 30 percent of the corporate workforce and 40 percent of retail and manufacturing by 2025. It’s also investing in professional mentorship for minorities and backing communities through $6.5 million in Neighborhood Grants. A chemist with a knack for analytics, Brewer has spoken of bringing her head and her heart to leadership. She was known for promoting diversity and inclusion while CEO and president of Walmart Sam’s Club. At Starbucks, that expanded focus also blends with its climate leadership initiatives. In 2019, it issued a $1 billion sustainability bond , the first corporation to do so. After learning of the outsize impact of dairy in its supply chain, it added more plant-based items to its menu. “I can’t even explain to you how much richer the conversations are when you have a diverse group of people in the room challenged against one problem, and how quickly you get to solutions,” she said in 2018. No doubt those conversations will be at play in Starbucks’ 50th year. As it expands by 800 stores annually, it also will strive toward a science-based, “resource positive” framework of halving carbon emissions, landfill waste and waste usage by 2030. Patrick Collison, CEO and co-founder, Stripe; San Francisco LinkedIn | Personal website It’s a prototypical Silicon Valley tale: Irish-bred Patrick Collison sold his first tech company for millions as a teen with brother John. Their next big project, payment service provider Stripe, has ballooned in its 10th year to a $36 billion valuation, just behind Elon Musk’s SpaceX among a few privately held unicorns. CEO Collison (John is president) has his eye on making an outsized climate impact by accelerating negative-carbon solutions. In May, Stripe named four young CO2-sequestration efforts it’s bankrolling with a combined $1 million, including Project Vestas (green-rock beaches) and CarbonCure (concrete). Natural carbon sinks, carbon mineralization and direct-air capture are early focus areas for Stripe’s 2019 Negative Emissions Commitment , which aims to spend at least double in these areas compared with what it pays for carbon offsets. Stripe Climate, launched in October, is an attempt to address a chicken-egg problem by driving up adoption for CO2-removal services that are, for now, prohibitively expensive for other companies. Online merchants can divert a portion of each sale toward carbon sequestration, and show that off to downstream shoppers at the point of purchase. Unlike with offsets, there’s no tit-for-tat estimate of how many GHG tons may be involved, which is intentional. The billionaire bibliophile has a side publishing effort, Stripe Press , which tries to further “ideas that we think can be broadly useful” toward shaping “the world of tomorrow.” João Paulo Ferreira, CEO, Natura &Co Latin America; São Paulo LinkedIn | Company profile From its cosmetics direct-sales origins in 1969, Natura &Co has matured to swallow up Avon, the Body Shop and Aesop. The Brazilian company, listed on the New York Stock Exchange one year ago, sells beauty and biodiversity as intertwined. Its mission: to offer products that “promote the harmonious relationship of the individual with oneself, with others and with nature.” Working under group CEO Roberto Marquez, João Paulo Ferreira’s Latin America CEO position has overseen the heart of the original business since 2016. The electronic engineer and MBA spent 19 years as a supply chain vice president at Unilever before joining Natura in 2009. In 2019, Ferreira urged Brazilian leaders to protect the fire-scarred Amazon rainforest, from which so much megadiversity — and Natura’s product base — derives. Ucuuba berries used in a moisturizer, for example, are more lucrative for local residents to collect and sell to Natura than chopping down the trees for timber. “But you have to do this in an orderly way that conserves the local culture, including traditional know-how, and adds value to the communities involved,” Ferreira has said. In the past decade, Natura has planted several hundred million dollars toward rainforest protection and sustainable development. Full traceability for palm oil, mica, paper, alcohol, soy and cotton is due in 2025. The company’s “Commitment to Life” vision for 2030 includes net-zero GHG emissions by 2030, and raising by 7.4 million acres the 4.4 million acres it protects in the Amazon. Natura, which issues a regular environmental profit-and-loss statement , went carbon-neutral in 2007 and became the first public B Corporation in 2014. Furthering fair wages and closing the gender gap is another goal, as is embracing circular principles. It’s throwing $100 million toward biotech solutions for repurposing waste and improving plastics; regenerative agriculture in deforested zones; and building up markets for biological ingredients. Beth Ford; President & CEO; Land O’Lakes; Arden Hills, Minnesota LinkedIn | Company profile Best known for its butter — and the Native American logo it retired last year — Land O’Lakes is also a 21st-century force in technology. Beth Ford is cultivating agtech at scale to optimize yields sustainably across the 150 million acres it touches in every state. Farmers are “the original environmentalists,” she said in July. “The way we think about sustainability is data-enhanced decisions.” Land O’Lakes is a cooperative owned by some 300,000 farmers, who were already struggling before COVID-19 upended supply chains. Toward its bid to accelerate regenerative agriculture and aid farmers, one acre and data point at a time, the company recently partnered with Microsoft on a multi-year effort to hasten innovation and boost rural broadband. Microsoft’s cloud architecture eventually will house Land O’Lakes’ data tools including Truterra , which tracks impacts on soil , air and water from no-till, cover crops and fertilizer management practices, as well as WinField United r7 software that uses satellite imagery and geolocated data. Raised in Iowa, Ford became the only openly gay Fortune 500 CEO in 2018. She came to the co-op from International Flavors & Fragrances in 2012 as supply chain and operations executive vice president and became COO several years later. Ford’s resume spans industries, including time at Mobil Oil, PepsiCo and Scholastic. Ford is on the board of directors at the Business Roundtable, Consumer Goods Forum and U.S. Global Leadership Coalition. Logan Green, Co-founder and CEO, Lyft; San Francisco LinkedIn Logan Green has cited growing up with Southern California traffic and carpooling as a student in Zimbabwe for inspiring the launch of Zimride in 2007. He was fresh out of a business economics bachelor’s program in Santa Barbara and a stint as the youngest director on the local Metro Transit District board. Zimride merged into Lyft in 2013, its vehicles announced by a fuzzy pink “grill-stache.” By 2019, the company counted more than a billion total rides, with 2 million annual drivers in more than 650 U.S. and Canadian cities. In June, Lyft set a course to move toward 100 percent electric or other emission-free vehicles by 2030. That’s in the vehicles that Lyft drivers own, as well as the company’s Express Drive rentals for drivers and its eventual Level 5 self-driving fleets. The ride-sharing brand positions this as a radical shift that will benefit communities, partly by reducing pollution. Working with the Environmental Defense Fund, Lyft predicts it will prevent the release of tens of millions of metric tons of GHG emissions and avert the consumption of a billion tons of gasoline. Lyft’s IPO filing in 2019 exposed contradictions between its goals to “redesign our cities around people, not cars,” and the traffic congestion its rides have caused. Among other challenges, Lyft’s scooter rentals mostly have flopped, but the company isn’t giving up on micromobility. And its LyftUp effort seeks to meet transportation needs in underserved urban communities. Ridesharing demand crashed with COVID-19, and Lyft became part of the frontline delivery and medical access infrastructure. With holes in the gig economy torn open, Lyft tried to keep some drivers working by partnering with Amazon, and paid some time off due to virus exposure. Although they laid off nearly 1,000 employees, Green and co-founder John Zimmer declined their own pay. The company has played the self-described “woke” foil to market leader Uber. “We care” is what sets Lyft apart, Green has said. Lyft’s first ESG report reaffirmed as much in July, also showing that working conditions for its diverse driver base top the list of stakeholder concerns, alongside community safety and emissions. Mauricio Gutierrez, CEO, NRG; Houston LinkedIn | Company profile After the contentious exit of David Crane , who was leaning hard into the disruptive power of renewables, COO Gutierrez became CEO overnight in 2015. The company has since whipsawed between its wholesale-energy legacy of fossil fuels and greener horizons. To mollify shareholders, NRG shed its renewables business and EVGo vehicle-charging infrastructure. However, like Crane before him, Gutierrez is wise to the macro trends that favor clean energy, and has called sustainability “the glue that keeps all of our stakeholders working together toward a common goal with purpose.” In 2019, Gutierrez issued a new goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, expecting to reach it halfway by 2025. NRG in December issued a $900 million sustainability-linked bond, which it called a first for a North American company. Motivated to decarbonize, digitize and customize, Gutierrez has been advancing an integrated-power strategy to bring generation and retail together. Rather than invest capital directly in renewable-energy projects, he wants NRG to provide long-term contracts that improve their financeability. Gutierrez joined NRG from Dynegy in 2004 as an energy portfolio director. The engineer holds master’s degrees in mineral economics and petroleum economics. An outspoken advocate for racial justice, Gutierrez has urged companies to take action on social issues that matter to stakeholders, and to be honest that the playing field is not level. “We cannot create equity value if we do not take care of our employees or if we don’t serve our customers and their communities,” he said in June. Helena Helmersson, COO, H&M Group; Stockholm LinkedIn | Company profile Helena Helmersson may be the first former CSO to ascend to the top job at a major corporation, signaling H&M’s designs to further stitch sustainability and equity into operations. She’s also the first woman, succeeding longtime CEO Karl-Johan Persson one year ago. Joining H&M in 1997 in the buying department, Helmersson wound her way through the company, moving from Dhaka, Bangladesh, to Hong Kong to Stockholm. A vocal advocate for purpose in retail, she oversees 126,000 employees and 5,000 storefronts in 74 countries, with a complex supply chain network. The H&M model embodies some big contradictions. It helped define fast fashion, yet is in the vanguard of circular innovations in apparel. It strives to improve conditions for garment workers and improve transparency, yet still attracts activist ire. H&M seeks by 2030 to become fully circular, eliminating waste and adopting sustainable and recycled materials , and has partnered with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation since 2018. Helmersson views engaging consumers as the key, and the company is working on the Higg Index with the Sustainable Apparel Coalition to improve industry labeling. H&M is among the first apparel giants to enable product take-back for any garment and to prioritize reducing toxic chemicals in manufacturing. In 2019, customers returned 29,000 tonnes of worn clothes in exchange for 15 percent discounts, beating company expectations. Pure cotton and polyester can be downcycled into insulation and other things. H&M forged a five-year partnership in November with RenewCell to produce millions of pieces of clothing from Circulose, a pulp made from used cotton fabric. The H&M Foundation and CO:LAB venture capital arm share a focus on advancing textile recycling. More broadly, the company is moving toward a “climate positive” value chain by 2040, embracing science-based targets. It is already at 96 percent renewable energy toward the 2030 goal of 100 percent. Ilham Kadri, CEO, Solvay; Brussels LinkedIn | Company profile The first woman to lead a major European chemical company, Ilham Kadri has called chemistry “the mother of all industries.” Directing operations in 64 countries from the EU capital, she seeks to catalyze circular models and take Solvay far past its 1863 roots as a soda ash producer. “Without industry there is no reinvention and without reinvention there is no future,” the chemical engineer and physics-chemistry Ph.D. said in December . Kadri launched Solvay’s One Planet sustainability framework of “climate, resources and better life” last year, 11 months after becoming CEO. With some $12 billion annual sales, the company’s eclectic mix of products includes coatings, solvents and binders for electric car batteries; lightweight composites for airplanes; recycled polyamide for apparel and sustainable vanillin for chocolate. Solvay seeks to double revenues from renewable or recycled solutions and count 65 percent of its products as sustainable by 2030 — also closing the loop on energy and resources in its plants; extending life cycles and optimizing consumption within its supply chains. It uses blockchain to trace sourcing in India for guar, used in shampoos. The company is an Ellen MacArthur Foundation partner, including in a collaboration with Veolia to close the loop on lithium-ion EV batteries. Other circular approaches include making vanilla flavoring from discarded rice husks and reusing hydrogen peroxide for paper production. Solvay repurposes wastewater from dairy production in the United Arab Emirates to cool cows in arid fields. Kadri, raised in Casablanca, was previously CEO of hygiene tech company Diversey and counts management experience at Sealed Air, Dow and Shell. She brings an international perspective and an embrace of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and has worked in the U.S., UAE, Switzerland and France. Mark Mason, CFO, Citi; New York City LinkedIn | Company profile In May, Mark Mason flung open a door that’s rarely unlatched on Wall Street by publishing a wrenching company blog post against systemic racism. Its first words, 10 times repeated, were the last spoken by police brutality victim George Floyd: “I can’t breathe.” Unusual for a finance chief, the message is one that Mason felt necessary for Citi’s 204,000 employees and the world at large. Yet “words are not enough.” So Citi threw its heft behind a $1 billion, three-year Action for Racial Equity initiative supporting Black homeownership, entrepreneurship and professional development. Mason, who was raised in Queens, is one of the few senior Black executives in banking, at Citi since 2001 in a slate of leadership roles including CEO of Citi Private Bank. He also leads Citi Ventures Initiatives, which invests in efforts to “help people, businesses, and communities thrive.” Citi Impact Fund investments include waste-to-fuel company, smart water management and 3D printing companies. Startups in the area of “access to capital and economic opportunity,” for which $50 million has been earmarked, are “coming soon” on the website. Citi positions environmental sustainability and racial justice as intertwined, seeking to be the finance leader in low-carbon solutions, and Mason holds the purse strings. In 2019, it followed an inaugural €1 billion bond with a $1.5 billion U.S. bond. The bank recently added circular economy and sustainable agriculture focus areas for its $250 billion Environmental Finance Goal, which it expanded from the original $100 billion goal that it met four years early. Lisa McKnight; Senior Vice President, Global Head of Barbie; Mattel; El Segundo, California LinkedIn | Company profile The cultural impact of the Barbie doll is hard to overestimate. Whether seen as innocent or insidious, she’s a prism through which generations of girls have shaped their self-image and aspirations. About six years ago, Lisa McKnight’s team found the blonde bombshell falling out of favor with parents. She set out to redirect and reposition Barbie as “the original empowerment brand,” touching on the icon’s origins as the invention of a 1959 mompreneur. As a result, today’s kaleidoscope of Barbies includes 176 dolls with 94 hairstyles, 35 skin tones and nine body types. She is a chicken farmer, a zoo doctor, a firefighter, a polar marine biologist, a park ranger and a political candidate. One in five is Black. Barbie is Rosa Parks, David Bowie and Susan B. Anthony. Barbie may have a wheelchair, no hair or vitiligo. On social media, she describes baking banana bread during quarantine and ponders why women overuse the word “sorry.” Barbie annual sales are soaring beyond $1 billion. What does this have to do with sustainability? When the world’s second-biggest toy maker plants the seeds for more inclusive play, the fruit may feed SDG No. 5 on gender equality. Empowering girls and women offers a multitude of carbon-reduction benefits. McKnight, at Mattel for 22 years after leading marketing at Gap, is working within the 91-year-old company’s greater shift to environmental sustainability. Mattel seeks for all products and packaging to comprise recycled or recyclable materials by 2030, and in June it brought sugarcane-plastic toddler stacking rings to market. Most of Mattel’s paper-based packaging is Forest Stewardship Council-certified. The toymaker seeks to cut normalized carbon emissions in half by 2028. Vasant Narasimhan, CEO, Novartis; Basel, Switzerland LinkedIn | Company profile “Vas” Narasimhan views this moment as the best to be alive, partly because science promises to advance health by unlocking genetic mysteries that have built up over 3.7 billion years of evolution. No wonder he keeps an ammonite fossil in his bag. Addressing health equity is a special focus area for Narasimhan, who cut his teeth as a public health doctor addressing malaria and HIV in developing nations. With 103,000 employees and 800 million people using its products, Novartis is at the forefront of exploring genetic and cell therapies for human health. A subsidiary is involved in an early-stage, gene-based vaccine for the novel coronavirus. “We all have to speak up in defense of really rigorous, well-defined science,” Narasimhan said in December. “If we lose that battle, the world will give up a lot of the gains that we’ve had and perhaps many we could have in areas like environment and climate change.” With erudite Narasimhan in charge, Novartis is buckling down to embed ESG into operations. In September, the company issued healthcare’s first sustainability bond, priced at $2.26 billion. In November it became the first European pharmaceutical company to meet 100 percent renewables through virtual power purchase agreements. The Swiss firm aims to reach neutrality in carbon, water and plastic by 2030 across its supply chain, and phase out polyvinyl chloride (PVC) in medical packaging by 2025. The charismatic “unboss,” as he has called his role, has been at Novartis since 2007, with a stint at Sandoz. Raised in Pittsburgh and one of the youngest multinational leaders, Narasimhan is fond of sharing books that inspire him on Twitter. He serves on the National Academy of Medicine and on boards including African Parks. Patti Poppe, CEO, PG&E; San Francisco LinkedIn | Company profile Patti Poppe has a grounded, straight-talking style, an inclination to see opportunities in crisis, and an embrace of innovation to enrich the triple bottom line. It’s easy to see why Pacific Gas & Electric snapped her up in November from Consumers Energy in Michigan, where she was on track to fold its coal and nuclear operations by 2040. “There are ways to make this clean energy transition that are additive, that are extraordinary,” she said in 2019. “We’ve got work to do; there’s no time to stand on the sidelines and hope and holler and think that somebody’s gonna do something about this.” As the California utility crawls out of a bankruptcy and restructuring, the human and environmental toll left by the epic wildfires it caused remain incalculable. Can PG&E earn back the trust of its 16 million consumers? A clue may be found in Poppe’s approach to a crisis. Rather than asking if something is possible, she advocates for asking, “What has to be true to bring it to fruition?” Consumers Energy CEO since 2016, she was praised for preventing a bigger emergency two subzero Januarys ago, after a fire at a natural gas compressor threatened energy transmission. The company texted residents to turn down their thermostats, they responded, and nobody lost heat. As for the slower-moving climate crisis, Poppe grabbed the opportunity of a generation to replace fossil fuels and phase in “modular” renewables. The industrial engineer even made energy efficiency enticing at Consumers, in May teaming up with Google to give away Nest smart thermostats to 100,000 customers. Poppe said she won’t abandon her coworkers or their communities during the energy transition, describing how career employees at a shuttered coal plant stayed at the company. Before working in energy, the Michigander spent 15 years in plant management at General Motors. She’s the first woman to move from one Fortune 500 CEO office to another. Linda Rendle, CEO, Clorox; Oakland, California LinkedIn | Company profile One million Clorox wipes, prized during the pandemic, were rolling off the company’s assembly lines each day in 2020. The company cleaned up in sales, and it’s going on an advertising offense. It’s up to new CEO Linda Rendle how aggressively Clorox will lead its 8,800 employees on sustainability. Joining the America Is All In pledge supporting the Paris Agreement in December is an early indicator. One of Rendle’s tasks for 2021 will be to complete a 100 percent renewable electricity goal for Clorox’s U.S. and Canadian operations. Rendle is the first woman in the job as of September, and the 38th female CEO on the Fortune 500. Promoted from president, she has risen steadily over 18 years through a series of vice president titles in supply chain and operations. Rendle has shunned social media. Visa cited her strategy- and brand-building experience when it welcomed her to its board in November. In August, the 98-year-old company joined the U.S. Plastics Pact, and it aligned in 2019 with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastic Economy commitment. Clorox seeks to prevent plastic waste and pollution in packaging, pledging to halve its use of virgin plastic and fiber by 2030 while doubling PCR recycled plastic. By 2025, it wants to achieve 100 percent recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging. (None of that addresses closing the loop on the synthetic wipes themselves.) The bleach and Brita filter maker is also phasing out PVC and supporting emerging refill models. Its recyclable Glad food bags and Hidden Valley Ranch dressing are available through the innovative Loop reusable packaging service. Clorox reportedly seeks to build on its legacy of “natural” products, burnished when it bought Burt’s Bees in 2008, and in its own formulation of the Green Works line of household cleaners. Chuck Robbins, Chairman and CEO, Cisco Systems LinkedIn | Company profile As CEO since 2015, Chuck Robbins has earned accolades for taking Cisco’s corporate responsibility to new heights while keeping the enterprise hardware brand nimble in the cloud computing era. In 2016, he issued an edict to positively affect 1 billion people by 2025. Last year, he set a new corporate purpose: “To power an inclusive future for all.” The company and its foundation have pledged more than half a billion dollars toward coronavirus relief. Cisco pledged $50 million in 2018 to address Silicon Valley homelessness and sponsors numerous programs and competitions to bridge digital divides and reward planet-positive technology innovations. Because Cisco’s technologies underpin many of the world’s “webscale” data centers, its advances enable a more energy-efficient, less emissions-intense internet. Its efficient $1 billion Silicon One architecture, for instance, squeezes more bandwidth out of routers. Since 2007, Cisco has reduced its GHG emissions by 55 percent since 2007. It has almost reached the goals for 2022 of 85 percent renewable electricity globally and 87 percent energy efficiency for its rack-mounted hardware. Robbins, who joined the company in 1997, also has led a top-down shift calling on the 75,000 employees to embrace circular principles such as modular designs in all products by 2025, building on Cisco’s seasoned product takeback and remanufacturing programs. He serves on the board of Ford Foundation, is a Business Roundtable member and has called himself “the ultimate optimist.” “OK, how is it that a kid who lived on a dirt road in Georgia has become CEO of a major tech company?” he said in 2019. “And I just realized that we have to run a good business, but there’s more to it. We need to take advantage of the power we’ve been given.” Ulf Mark Schneider, CEO, Nestlé; Vevey, Switzerland Company profile In 2020, Nestlé’s Haagen Dazs ice cream, Nescafé and Purina pet food flew off store shelves. The world’s biggest food company also created vegan “tuna” and tweaked its plant-based Sensational burger. In September, the Coffee mate maker opened an R&D test kitchen for sustainable dairy products and vegan “meats.” Ulf Mark Schneider, CEO since 2017, likes to boost markets in areas he’d like to accelerate. The German-American MBA sees the bottom-line benefit for “Creating Shared Value” and improving livelihoods across 2,000 brands in 189 countries. Last month, Nestlé announced it will sweeten its climate-mitigation efforts with $3.6 billion toward regenerative agriculture into 2025. Working with farmers supports the company’s goals to eliminate its environmental impact and slash emissions in half by 2030, reaching net-zero by 2050. “This is a time when people increasingly look towards business as a force for good and making something happen, so this is our part and we are fully committed to playing that part,” Schneider said in September. As for closing the loop, Schneider is leading Nestlé toward 100-percent recyclable or reusable packaging by 2025. The CPG giant in 2019 created its Institute of Packaging Sciences and joined the New Plastics Economy as a core partner. Nestlé last year released Nespresso pods with 80 percent recycled aluminum. The bottled water seller knows that whether an item actually gets recycled is at the mercy of regional infrastructure, so it’s funding efforts to improve recycling technologies for vexing materials such as films, bags and bubble wrap, including a pilot effort with a curbside-pickup recycling plant in Pennsylvania. Here too, Schneider seeks to nurture an early market, buying 2 million metric tons of food-grade recycled plastics at a premium of close to $2 billion. Harmit Singh, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Levi Strauss & Co. LinkedIn | Company profile Long an influencer in style and sustainability, Levi Strauss pioneered low-water techniques to finish and weather jeans, and its Screened Chemistry program led to removing hazardous chemicals from its supply chain. Then it open-sourced these innovations for the benefit of wider industry. “At Levi’s, it’s not only important what we make but how we make it,” Harmit Singh told GreenBiz in 2017, describing how sustainability was first embraced to mitigate risk and since has become core to the fabric of Levi Strauss’ values. After joining Levi’s in 2013, Singh visited its factories in Turkey and India. “How companies conduct themselves — if they are committed to clean water, if they treat workers well, if they are good stewards of natural resources — means a great deal to those communities,” he said in 2019. “The visit cemented my sense of how important this work is.” Thirty years after Levi’s launched its supply chain code of conduct to support apparel workers’ well-being, the company is moving toward circular models across design, sourcing, manufacturing, use and reuse. The new, recyclable fabrics it has developed include single-fiber nylon and recyclable denim for its Wellthread line of jeans. From the New York Stock Exchange podium, Singh cheered on the company as it went public in March 2019 for the second time. Espousing Levi’s tagline of “profit through principles,” he helped to establish the U.S. chapter of Accounting for Sustainability. Singh joined the denim maker after driving growth as CFO at Hyatt Hotels in Chicago and Yum! Brands and Pizza Hut in Dallas, with previous work in Singapore and Delhi. Bob Swan, CEO, Intel; San Jose, California LinkedIn | Company profile Bob Swan describes 2020 as the most important year yet in Intel’s history, as COVID-19 drove a “digital transformation on steroids.” In May, he issued three sweeping global challenges for technology to meet, which require outside collaboration and come with measurable benchmarks: revolutionizing health and safety; boosting social inclusivity; and making computing carbon-neutral. The more people analyze, capture and process data, the more the company must advance transistor density — a fitting challenge, given that Moore’s law began in the mind of Intel co-founder Gordon Moore. Intel seeks to build the world’s most efficient computer, neutral in carbon, water and waste. It has boosted manufacturing waste recovery and reuse by 275 percent over the past three years. “It’s very important for us that purpose isn’t something that goes on the wall and social responsibility isn’t something that goes in a report; so they’re one and the same,” Swan said in December, entering his third year as CEO. Bringing his ample CFO experience from Intel, eBay, GE Lighting and even Webvan, Swan underscores how integrating sustainability and carbon neutrality benefits customers, investors and communities. Intel’s RISE acronym covers responsibility, inclusion and sustainability — the “e” being its enabling technologies. The company met most of its 2020 goals along those lines, reaching global pay equity, keeping a workforce whose gender and minority makeup reflects that of the greater labor market and raising spending with diverse suppliers to $1 billion. Next up: doubling the number of women and minorities among its leadership by 2030. Applying artificial intelligence and cloud technologies, Intel is establishing a Global Inclusion Index open standard for hiring across industries. Intel AI for Youth seeks to bridge the digital divide in STEM education. Also ahead: Intel seeks to become net-positive in water by 2030, also achieving 100-percent renewable power, zero waste to landfill and net-positive water. Carol Tomé, CEO, UPS; Atlanta LinkedIn | Company profile Imagine leaving retirement just in time to guide UPS through a pandemic. Carol Tomé became her industry’s first female CEO on March 12. Nine months later, she oversaw the company’s first shipments of the earliest Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines, which must be pampered at close to negative 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Tomé’s talk of putting people first jibes with the UPS position of linking sustainability with social responsibility. (Its foundation backed nonprofits with several million dollars following spring’s racial justice crisis.) Tomé spent 24 years as Home Depot CFO, sometimes working the night shift in the retail stores, and continued to give store workers bonuses during the 2008 Great Recession. “To impact people, help them get to their highest potential,” Tomé told Fortune in October. “I view that as job No. 1. Job No. 2 is to get the stock price moving.” Under her guidance, UPS is moving forward on an ambitious partnership with London-based Arrival for 10,000 purpose-built modular electric vehicles — a sharp turn from UPS’s fleet history that began with a used Model T. The companies, which already had worked together in Europe on a pilot project, soon will be sited only several hours apart. UPS Ventures also made a minority investment in the Arrival, which seeks to build micro-factories to speed production.UPS has aligned with other sustainability innovations recently, such as its exclusive partnership on the 2019 launch of Loop , the zero-waste service for goods delivering groceries and other packaged goods. Topics Leadership Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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20 C-suite sustainability champions for 2021

Latest COVID-19 relief includes legislation on climate change

December 22, 2020 by  
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A $35 billion investment in clean power and other climate initiatives hitched a ride on the latest COVID-19 relief package. Backed by Senate Republicans as well as Democrats, the legislation will be the first significant climate change law in more than a decade — if it gets past President Trump’s desk this week. “This agreement protects both American consumers and American businesses,” said Republican Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, as reported by The New York Times . “We can have clean air without damaging our economy.” Related: Biden promises US-led climate summit in 2021 One of the most important parts of this new legislation is a requirement for manufacturers to phase out coolants called hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). While HFCs are a small percentage of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, they have a disproportionate effect. HFCs have 1,000 times the ability to trap heat compared to carbon dioxide. In 2016, 197 nations agreed that HFCs had to go. They signed what’s called the Kigali agreement because it was signed in Kigali, Rwanda. Scientists say that if all nations complied with phasing out HFCs, it could prevent an atmospheric temperature increase of almost 1°F. An atmospheric temperature increase of 3.6°F would be catastrophic, so ending HFCs could be of great help in avoiding this. Trump never ratified the Kigali agreement, instead opposing efforts to curb HFCs. This new legislation requires companies to decrease HFC production and consumption to about 15% of the 2012 levels by 2036. The EPA will oversee this phase-out. U.S. chemical companies strongly support phasing out HFCs, and most have already turned to climate-friendlier alternatives. If nobody could use HFCs, those who have already made the responsible choice will be at a more financially competitive advantage. Stephen Yurek was in Kigali in 2016, and, as chief executive of the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute, has been lobbying lawmakers since. “U.S. companies are already the leaders with the technology that has been developed to replace the less environmentally friendly refrigerants,” he said. “This bill is a victory for the manufacturers of all these products — not just the refrigerants; the equipment and component manufacturers.” Now the legislation’s proponents are crossing their fingers that Trump won’t stall it. Yurek said he didn’t even want to use the word “climate” when discussing the bill. “We didn’t want to give him any excuse to not sign it.” Via The New York Times Image via Tim Hüfner

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Latest COVID-19 relief includes legislation on climate change

What Biden could do about plastics

December 14, 2020 by  
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What Biden could do about plastics Lauren Phipps Mon, 12/14/2020 – 01:00 Most environmentally oriented eyes on the Biden administration are focused — appropriately — on mitigating climate change, creating jobs and transitioning to a clean energy future. Count me among them. So, I’m not holding out hope for a federal circular economy policy any time soon (I’ll let the EU take the lead on that front). However, I will pay close attention next year to the administration’s stance on everyone’s favorite entry point into the circular economy: plastics. More specifically, the potential to weave together or harmonize our current patchwork of city- and state-level regulations into a coordinated federal effort to chip away at the U.S.’s outsized plastics footprint . The most ambitious bill that could come across Biden’s desk is the Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act , introduced earlier this year by Sen. Tom Udall (D-New Mexico) and Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-California). The sweeping legislation would establish a nationwide container deposit system (a.k.a. extended producer responsibility); set post-consumer recycled content minimums for plastic packaging that gradually would increase to 80 percent in 2040; and ban a number of single-use items including plastic bags, polystyrene foodservice containers and disposable utensils and straws. It’s controversial, to say the least, with predictable divisions between industry lobbying for voluntary commitments and activist groups demanding regulatory action and accountability.  This week, a coalition of 550 environmental groups, including many of the bill’s supporters, released the Presidential Plastics Action Plan , a proposed framework for the president-elect to reduce plastics entering the waste stream and regulate their management — with or without the support of Congress. Here’s what makes me optimistic: Plastic pollution has become a bipartisan issue. Although Biden’s emphasis on infrastructure, climate and environmental justice feels perfectly poised for an intersectional challenge such as plastic pollution, I’m not feeling confident that this is where Biden will spend his political capital with executive action, at least any time soon. But I’m hoping to be surprised. On the international stage, I’ll be tracking two major opportunities for the Biden administration: a global treaty on plastics pollution and the Basel Convention, a United Nations treaty that regulates the transboundary movement and disposal of hazardous waste, amended in 2019 to regulate the global plastic waste trade.  More than two-thirds of United Nations member states have declared they are open to a new agreement to tackle plastic waste and harmonize policy efforts among signatories, akin to a Paris Agreement for plastics. And while the U.S. has remained predictably silent on the treaty, WWF, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and Boston Consulting Group recently released a manifesto calling for businesses to support such a treaty, garnering early support from major global brands including Coca-Cola, Nestlé and PepsiCo, among other top global plastic polluters , signaling potential for broader support to enter into negotiations.  Although the U.S. is not a party to the Basel Convention, come next month, many shipments of plastic waste from the U.S. to other countries will be prohibited or complicated , increasing the strain on domestic recycling markets.  I’m not wildly optimistic that the Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act will become the law of the land while the president’s ambition for environmental action is tempered by Republican control of the Senate. I’m also not filled with confidence that the U.S. quickly will become a global leader in the fight against plastics pollution.  But here’s what makes me optimistic: Plastic pollution has become a bipartisan issue.  If the historic influx of recycling legislation in Congress over the past few years tells us anything, it’s that recycling and materials management are on the national agenda. The education-focused RECYCLE Act and infrastructure-oriented RECOVER Act both received some bipartisan support before stalling amid the pandemic. And President Donald Trump signed the updated Save Our Seas 2.0 Act recently passed by both chambers of Congress. Among other things, it will provide $55 million in funding each year through 2025 to improve “local post-consumer materials management,” including municipal recycling programs (which could use the additional support these days). That’s a pittance compared to what’s needed, but we’ll take it. Indeed, when it comes to solving the plastics waste problem, these bills are woefully inadequate. They underscore the key distinction between tackling plastic pollution and addressing the problem at its root: Are we turning off the plastics tap, or bailing out the bathtub with a thimble? However insufficient, some federal action is certainly better than none.  Pull Quote Here’s what makes me optimistic: Plastic pollution has become a bipartisan issue. Topics Circular Economy Recycling Plastic Waste Plastic Featured Column In the Loop Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Person searches through plastic trash in a waterway near the Las Vegas Strip.  Shutterstock John Dvorak Close Authorship

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What Biden could do about plastics

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