How can we incorporate cleaner forms of energy into our everyday lives? There's a lot to be said on the topic. But one of the most important steps towards a greener global landscape starts with large corporations.
According to research published in the journal Climatic Change, just 90 companies are responsible for two-thirds of man-made global warming emissions. This means that if global businesses took the initiative to be powered by renewable energy we could effectively prevent massive amounts of emissions from entering our atmosphere.
Do businesses have a responsibility to curb their emissions output?
Luckily, there are global companies that take this responsibility very seriously - proving that making a move towards cleaner energy sources is not just possible but extremely viable.
At the end of 2016, Google announced that the entirety of its global business would be powered by renewable energy in 2017. The milestone, announced by Senior Vice President for Technical Infrastructure Urs Hölzle, is a massive one for the company as it's been a five year journey.
In 2012, Google started making big moves away from any reliance on energy produced from fossil fuels, according to the World Economic Forum. This started with a pledge to become fully powered by renewable energy. As it stands, Google has become the biggest buyer of clean energy among Western corporates by far.
"We were one of the first corporations to create large-scale, long-term contracts to buy renewable energy directly," explains Hölzle in a company blog. "Today, we are the world's largest corporate buyer of renewable power, with commitments reaching 2.6 gigawatts (2,600 megawatts) of wind and solar energy."
This green tactic doesn't just help the environment, it helps Google's bottom line. Relying on renewable sources of energy allows Google to avoid the volatility of fluctuating oil and coal prices. Going green, according to the company, just makes good business sense.
While this is a major win for renewables and clean energy, it's only the first step for Google. A recent company whitepaper, titled "Achieving Our 100% Renewable Energy Purchasing Goal and Going Beyond," explains that the next goal is much bigger. The global company will aim to "power their operations on a region-specific, 24-7 basis with clean, zero-carbon energy."
2. AppleApple has made some ambitious commitments towards renewable energy in the past few years. The company has a comprehensive climate change plan that not only identifies the totality of their carbon footprint but lays out the steps they are taking to lower it. Their newest campus, being built in Cupertino, California, is designed to run off of 100 per cent renewables. This will be generated by what will become one of the largest corporate solar installations in the whole world, according to the Climate Reality Project.
Apple also joined the RE100 Initiative in early 2016, a global initiative made up of influential businesses with the common goal of using 100 per cent renewable electricity within their operations.
As it stands now, all of Apple's operations in the US, China, and 21 other countries are 100 per cent powered by renewables - equalling a total of 93 per cent of their business. The company continues to make moves to reach that coveted 100 per cent. The company is committed to paving the path to more sustainable practices. In fact, according to CEO Joe Kaeser: "Committing to cutting our global carbon footprint is not only prudent - it's profitable."
Siemens is a German industrial conglomerate that specialises in everything from power plants to the creation of medical imaging machines. In 2017 they took the number one spot on the annual Global 100 list of the world's most sustainable companies.
Scoring high on nearly every possible metric, the company has an extremely low carbon footprint and is currently dedicating resources internally to building environmentally friendly infrastructure such as green heating and air conditioning systems.
The company has set a goal to be carbon-neutral by 2030 and the early efforts look promising. Just one year after launching their Siemens' CO2-neutral program, the company has successfully reduced their 2014 carbon footprint by more than 20 per cent.
Moving forward, the company is set to invest around €100 million into energy efficiency projects through to 2020.
These businesses are taking a stand and demonstrating what proactive corporate social responsibility looks like on a big scale. When companies we interact with in our everyday lives become greener and cleaner, they enable us to do the same.