WASHINGTON — The White House said Monday that 68 new companies, including Levi Strauss & Co., Nike Inc., L’Oréal USA and Target Corp, have pledged to take expanded steps toward sustainability and addressing climate change as part of the administration’s “American Business Act on Climate Pledge” launched in July.
The Obama administration began the program in an effort to enlist the help of the business community to reduce the carbon footprint and stave off climate change. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. was one of the original 13 companies that signed on and announced steps it was taking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The new group brings the number to 81 companies that combined employ more than 9 million people and represent $3 trillion in annual revenue with a collective market capitalization in excess of $5 trillion, according to a White House fact sheet. Other companies that have made commitments as part of the pledge include Procter & Gamble, the Walt Disney Co., Coca-Cola Co., General Motors, Microsoft Corp., Kellogg’s, McDonald’s Corp., UPS and Berkshire Hathaway.
Obama was also meeting with chief executive officers from five corporations and five suppliers as part of a White House roundtable and summit on climate change on Monday. Brian Deese, senior adviser to President Obama, said by making the pledge companies are doing two things.
“The first is endorsing and calling for a strong outcome for an international climate agreement in Paris later this year,” he said. The second is “stepping up and making their own commitments to reduce their emissions, increase the use of clean energy or engage in other conservation activities. The specific measures the companies are committed to are quite significant.”
Deese noted that in several cases, the companies are building on prior internal commitments to mitigate their impact on the environment but he stressed that they are also taking new action in the context of the pledge.
“For example, Levi Strauss is committing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020 in their office, retail and distribution locations,” Deese said. “Nike is pledging to reach 100 percent renewable energy in their owned or operated facilities by 2025. Siemens pledged to reduce net carbon emissions to zero by 2030.”
Levi’s has also pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 5 percent annually per product shipped and purchase a minimum of 20 percent of energy from renewable sources by 2020, according to the fact sheet. The brand also said it will ensure that no “forest-based” materials originating from the world’s endangered forces enter its supply chain by 2020.
Nike has committed to reducing energy consumption by 20 percent over a 10-year period in a majority of its U.S.-owned and operated facilities and will publicly share results of its progress, as part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s “Better Buildings Challenge.” The athletic sportswear and footwear brand has also pledged to find “new ideas for engaging industries, designers and consumers in valuing, demanding and adopting low-impact materials,” through a collaboration with MIT Climate CoLab.
Target said it has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 9 percent since 2010 and eliminated 550,00 metric tons of carbon dioxide. It has pledged to achieve Energy Star certification in 80 percent of its buildings by 2020, eliminate 9,000 metric tons of the emissions at its stores and reduce energy intensity per-square-foot by 10 percent by 2020.
The retailer said it will increase the number of solar rooftops by 2,000 percent (using a baseline of 2010) to 500 stores and distribution centers by 2020. The company said it will also reduce water use by 10 percent per square foot by 2020 in its stores and divert 70 percent of its retail waste from landfills through reuse or recycled programs by 2020.
Todd Brady, global environmental director at Intel, said on a press call that the White House leadership role on the issue has given companies the confidence to expand existing plans to address climate change.
“We, as other companies have, have taken action for a number of years, deeming that climate change is a real issue, a serious issue that needed to be addressed. We are moving down that path,” Brady said. “With the leadership the administration is showing, it caused us to take a step back and take a look at the actions that we are taking and say, ‘Should we do more?’ Our pledge is a combination of both action we are continuing as well as new steps we are willing to commit to and sign up for moving forward.”
Last November, Obama made an ambitious commitment of reducing greenhouse gas emissions economywide by 26 to 28 percent by 2025. Fully implemented, the White House has said the Climate Action Plan will cut nearly 6 billion tons of carbon pollution through 2030, an amount “equivalent to taking all the cars in the United States off the road for more than four years.”