Better Late Than Never? Big Companies Scramble To Make Lofty Climate Promises

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A growing number of companies have announced plans to tackle climate change and it is not just companies with eco-friendly reputations. Npr's Camilla Domino reports that. These companies are responding to pressure on multiple fronts. Helping the planet is good for business. That's what Elizabeth Sirkin. The Environmental Defense Fund has been telling corporate leaders. We can't exist as people and we can exist as businesses without clean air clean water a stable climate. She started delivering that message. Twenty years ago it was so fundamentally obvious to me. I really felt like business would just get this. She figured CEO's would cut emissions governments would set new climate policies and she didn't need to get a new job. I never thought that this many years later I would still be doing. This turns out helping. The planet did not seem like the obvious move too many. Ceo's but there are signs of a shift. More companies are now promising to cut more carbon and to do it more quickly. And there's an acceleration in the number of companies setting so-called science based targets in line with the global agreement. The Paris Accord Kevin. Moss runs the Center for Business Sustainability at the World Resources Institute. It's a small fraction of the overall proportion of businesses. But it's lodge impactful companies like Guo. Mott's Light Target Light Hilton Hotels. So what changed while the effects of climate change are becoming clearer not as a future risk but something happening right now at the same time solar and wind energy keep getting cheaper and there's more pressure from investors and from customers from some governments. There might be some more surprising sources of pressure to like kids. Here's Elizabeth Sirkin again. I hear from business leaders all the time today that you know their kids come home and say what are you doing dad? This makes a difference. Employees are increasingly influential to Cam. Kim runs an APP. Called Blind. Tech workers can talk to each other about their workplaces and he says they're increasingly discussing issues like climate change. People talk a lot of compensation of course and the work culture but I think this is a whole new segment in a survey half. His users said companies climate policy affects whether or not they want to work their employees investors customers science. All of that played a role in Microsoft's recent decision to go beyond carbon neutral and pol more carbon dioxide out of the air then. The company admits but chief Sustainability Officer. Lucas Java says there's another factor too. He says it's helped to frame this as an accounting problem. And that really is what I see. Flip executives mindsets around is to just talk about this in terms that they understand talking about a carbon budget quantifying. Exactly how much companies emit and how much they'll need to cut at the end of the day. What companies are really good at doing is making decisions based on numbers of course setting carbon budget is one thing sticking to it is another and some experts say there could be a danger in relying on big corporations to drive the fight against climate change. Chilanga Baker is a professor at Northeastern University who studies the social justice dimensions of transition away from fossil fuels she says communities especially vulnerable and marginalized communities should have a say in the fight against climate change and feel the benefits of a switch to green energy. I'm just not sure if I have the faith given that you know. Corporations are very concerned about expenses and profits that they would really think about something that may add cost but that may be more just Baker says commitments from companies can definitely be powerful but she says government policy can make sure. Vulnerable populations are protected. She's not the only one who looks at these voluntary commitments and sees a need for regulation after all some companies taking action is nowhere near enough to stop climate change Elizabeth's Durkan who spent two decades urging companies to act. She's asking them to do more than just cut their own emissions. It's really critical to engage. The policymakers corporations from BP to Pepsico say they support a price on carbon sturgeon says companies. That really want to lead on climate need to put money towards advancing those policies Camille Domino ASCII NPR news.

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