Last week, Porter Novelli asked if COP26 was a cop-out and provided key takeaways for the business community. This week we’re diving into the scrutiny (earned or not) brands face when they make net-zero promises. While our research has found that 83 percent of Americans said they feel better about companies making bold environmental commitments, another 39 percent said they had researched a company’s support of social and environmental issues. But it’s not just the consumer taking a magnifying glass to green pledges. There are increasing pressures from investors to governmental regulations and independent ranking and rating organizations.
Companies are facing increased investigations into their strategies, plans, and commitments to reduce their GHG emissions – not just get to net-zero, which can be overly reliant on carbon offsets. Stakeholders are looking for details and plans that show how progress will be made now, not just backloading progress into the final years of a timebound commitment. The difference between companies that get called out and companies that do it right is how they communicate their plans. Today we examine a few companies laying it all out on the table with transparent reporting from the top down.
- Last year, Coca-Cola HBC released its plan to achieve net-zero emissions across their whole supply chain by 2040. The company goes into great detail for the program, including spending $250 million on emission reduction projects, switching to renewable electricity, using lower-carbon packaging, providing access to environmentally-friendly coolers to customers, lessening agricultural emissions, and investing in a “Green Fleet.” Zoran Bogdanovic, CEO of Coca-Cola HBC, transparently puts a point on these goals by saying, “Although we don’t yet have all the answers, our plan, track record, and partnership approach give us confidence that we will deliver.”
- In its annual sustainability report, Ford publicized its target to become carbon neutral by 2050. Ford will focus on three sectors that account for around 95 percent of its CO2 emissions to meet its goal: vehicle use, supply base, and company facilities. Not only is the automobile company investing $22 billion in electric vehicles through 2025, but Ford is also being explicit in the challenge of its supply chain. Ford said it would engage with suppliers to understand their collective environmental footprint, assist chosen suppliers in reducing emissions through its Partnership for A Cleaner Environment initiative, and continue to interact with automotive industry partners to minimize supplier emissions.
- PwC is also setting global objectives for reaching net-zero by 2030 and stressing the need to “build trust with stakeholders” and deliver sustained outcomes.” Like Ford, in its effort to affect change outside of the organization, PwC will be supporting its clients to help reduce their emissions as well. Bob Moritz, Global Chairman of the PwC network, stated that “The business community has a responsibility to act, and we are determined to play our part, not just in our own operations and supply chain, but also in the way we advise and support our clients to create a sustainable world for future generations.”
In the last 24 months, we’ve seen almost every company with a sustainability/ESG program releasing a Net-Zero goal. But this has now become table stakes for companies’ climate strategies. These commitments have affected corporate communications and marketing departments by increasing pressure to expand messaging frameworks to include both specific data as well as anecdotal stories that bring climate progress to life. As well as help brands get credit for the good work they are doing.