While the globe still reels from the continued impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, other threats loom on the horizon. Indeed, some pundits are reminding us not to lose sight of other crises – including climate change. In the words of Harvard Business School professor Rebecca Henderson in a recent Porter Novelli Purpose Summit session, “The pandemic is the pop quiz, climate change is the final exam.” This week, one company announced a major milestone in its climate journey – even while grappling with the current health and economic crisis.
Outdoor retailer, REI, has announced it has met its carbon neutrality goal – a 14-year commitment first conceptualized in 2006. The goal, to become carbon neutral in its operations by 2020, resulted in REI becoming one of the first retailers to measure and report its greenhouse gas emissions. Other initiatives that helped REI achieve its commitment included green building certifications, investments in clean energy, as well as $100 million towards “stewarding outdoor spaces that support recreation but also can provide critical carbon sequestration.” Yet, even as the company celebrates one milestone, it has already re-upped its environmental commitments with a new goal to halve its carbon footprint by 2030 while it continues to forecast growth in size and revenue.
Even in the face of the urgent and immediate issues the pandemic has surfaced, companies must not lose sight of broader commitments. In fact, nearly two-thirds (63%) of Americans say even during the pandemic, companies should continue progress against other social and environmental issues. This mandate seems especially critical as the world moves slowly closer to the commitments laid out in the 2030 Agenda of the Sustainable Development Goals.