In September 2015, Siemens announced they were cutting their carbon emissions — which totaled 2.2 million metric tons per year — in half by 2020. They hope to be carbon neutral by 2030. But there’s a big question you’re probably asking: How will they reduce their carbon footprint that quickly?
Siemens’ Half Measure
Siemens’ plan is far-reaching and sounds deceptively simple: They’ll invest more than $100 million in building distributed energy systems at their 300-plus factories. They’ve already started transitioning their 100,000 company vehicles to low-emission models. They’re also moving toward a cleaner power mix in their factories tapping mostly natural gas and wind power, which emit little to no carbon dioxide.
Our planet is facing a CO2 emissions problem: Rates of CO2 increased by 7.4 percent between 1990 and 2013, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, with no signs of slowing down. Traffic emissions and industry account for almost 60 percent of those extra CO2 fumes. That’s why large companies like Siemens are chasing down these new carbon emissions goals, hoping to erase their large carbon footprint and aid in our planet’s recovery. But there are additional benefits to chasing sustainability as well: creating more sustainable systems can reduce spending for large companies (at Siemens, for example, they say sustainability efforts could slash costs by $20 million per year). Some experts also note that increased sustainability efforts can improve recruiting, adding to employees’ sense of contributing to a better world.
Ford’s Efficient Engine
The Ford Motor Company is also in the carbon-reduction game. The automotive industry produces approximately 14 percent of global GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions, so Ford has developed an EcoBoost engine which improves fuel efficiency in their vehicles by up to 20 percent. They’ve also invested $4.5 billion in electrified vehicles and plan to offer 13 new models by 2020 in the U.S. and Canada.
They have partnerships with clean energy companies, as well — they’ve even installed wind sail and solar PV systems at Ford Dealerships across the U.S. to power buildings and EV charging stations.
Dell Shortens the Straw
Dell is reducing their carbon footprint, too: They’ve recently changed their packaging to wheat straw, which requires 40 percent less energy to produce and 90 percent less water. Dell has also invested heavily in big data and analytics to track and reduce the energy consumption in their facilities.
Nestlé Fueled by Caffeine
Nestlé is an “older hand” in the charge to reduce carbon emissions — they’ve been working toward a smaller carbon footprint for years, and have been ranked highly on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index many times because of their extended sustainability efforts. By 2014, they’d phased out 92 percent of their industrial refrigerants, replacing them with environmentally friendly ingredients. In their Mexico-based factories, 85 percent of the electricity comes from wind farms. They also use spent coffee grounds as supplement fuel in 22 factories, among other initiatives.
Coke’s Big Rig Gig
Coca-Cola has similar goals: They hope to reduce their carbon footprint by 25 percent in 2020 by adjusting their packaging formats, delivery fleets, refrigeration equipment and ingredient sourcing. Coca-Cola’s efforts kicked off after the company discovered that their global fleet of trucks emitted approximately 3.7 million metric tons of greenhouse gases in 2014. Now, the company plans to power their trucks with a mix of alternative fuels, including biodiesel, natural gas and electric power.
Northrop Grumman’s Green Game
Northrop Grumman also has high carbon reduction goals: By 2020, the company plans to reduce their GHG emissions by 30 percent. They plan to reduce potable water use by 20 percent from 2014 levels, and to achieve a 70 percent solid-waste diversion rate.
Sustainability remains one of the most important innovation spaces in large companies — without it, the communities that live around major industry headquarters may be adversely affected. Without working to reduce our carbon footprints, our planet might not be habitable for as long as we hope. That’s why thinking broadly, investing in sustainable systems and programs, and teaching employees how to live more sustainably, is more than just important: It’s the way of the future.