How To Stay The Course Toward A Low Carbon Future: Three Effective Corporate Strategies

Holly Emerson
July 31, 2017
Despite contemporary obstacles on the road to climate action, companies, non-profits and cities recognize addressing climate change is important and are continuing their work to achieve climate success. For example, companies have steadily increased emissions reduction activities in recent years and proclaimed support through internal and external commitments. In fact, almost half of the S&P 500 have an emissions reduction target, according to CDP.

Setting long-term and/or science -based goals to reduce your carbon footprint is just one of many strategies that companies use today. Taking advantage of various and far-reaching strategies can allow your company to continue making strides on new and existing carbon reduction initiatives. Based on my experience, here are three effective strategies to consider to help reduce your carbon footprint:

#1: Establish a long-term commitment or goal:

Greenhouse gas or energy reduction goals are commonly accepted and practiced climate strategies, especially among large-sized companies. However, not as many organizations may be aware of the benefits related to deploying a science-based target. Supported by the Science-Based Targets Initiative, these types of targets are in line with the levels of carbon reductions required to keep global temperature increase below 2 degrees Celsius, a limit outlined by the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

By securing a science-based target, organizations can rest assured that they are not only tracking against an accurate and aggressive internal goal, but also that they are doing their part and taking responsibility for emissions reductions on a long-term, global scale. Outlined in our Climate Commitment, Ingersoll Rand's goal to reduce its Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 35 percent by 2020 was approved by this initiative as a science-based target.

#2: Consider your customers:

Just as important as reducing one's internal carbon footprint, organizations should consider outward looking climate strategies. Think about how enablement - empowering others to reduce their environmental and carbon footprints - can be a part of your climate journey.

For many industry members, this question is obvious and comes frequently, as we see customer expectations changing faster than ever before - including demands for efficiency and sustainability. And as a global provider of products that heat, cool and automate homes and buildings, we know our industry has an important role in reducing global emissions.

Across all industries and sectors, there are opportunities to drive carbon reductions through products and services. In turn, organizations may uncover benefits to their bottom line and businesses that they may have not realized otherwise.

#3: Drive authentic employee engagement:

It's no secret that engaged employees are often happy employees. But what if your employees could take advantage of their personal passions at work while at the same time helping their organizations achieve operational goals?

That's the idea behind Ingersoll Rand's global Green Teams. Through this program, we've seen first-hand the value that personal buy-in from employees brings to our company's sustainability efforts. Authenticity is truly key to buy-in, and one way to achieve it is by empowering those who have a natural ability and interest in the initiatives. Consider individuals who don't necessarily have environmental or sustainability in their title - and allow them to become "champions" by providing them with the tools they need to showcase their strengths and achieve shared goals.

Last, but not least, find ways to keep employees and colleagues motivated. Often this is difficult to navigate, but consider a more "loose" structured program that allows champions to really take ownership and tailor efforts to those of the local culture or region without providing exact "how-to" instructions.

Forging the path ahead

Organizations can find comfort in knowing these strategies can drive efficiencies and create opportunities inside and outside organizations. Climate action plans which connect employees, customer, and supply chains with long-term goals will drive continued success in addressing climate change.

Let's strive to each have a climate "champion" mindset - and remember that the path to the greatest success will only be possible if we keep telling ourselves there's more work to be done.

To learn more about corporate climate change strategies join Holly Emerson at NAEM's 2017 Sustainability Management Conference, August 1-2 in Chicago, IL.


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About the Author

Holly Emerson
Ingersoll-Rand plc
Holly Emerson focuses on long-term strategy development and execution; materiality and risk management; and defining and implementing metrics for operating and innovating in the green space. Her efforts help guide Ingersoll Rand product development and product stewardship. She also collaborates with the Global Integrated Supply Chain group to integrate sustainability into supplier quality and compliance programs. Emerson’s external reporting expertise and knowledge has helped the company achieve listing on the Dow Jones Sustainability World and North America Indices and the CDP Climate Change Disclosure Leadership Index.

Emerson began her career as product engineer in the pump industry with Ingersoll-Dresser Pumps. She joined Ingersoll Rand in 2002 as a market development manager for the renewable markets in the company’s microturbine business. She has also been involved in enterprise sales and marketing where she benchmarked sustainability best practices among peer companies and helped launch the company’s first sales initiative for green products.

She is a member of the GreenBiz Executive Network and Charlotte U.S. Green Building Council and is LEED accredited professional. Emerson has served on the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board Advisory Council and the National Science Foundation’s Industry/University Collaborative Research Center’s Sustainably Integrated Buildings and Sites Industry Advisory Board, on which she was the inaugural chair. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Pennsylvania.

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