For the first time in history, last year’s renewable energy investments reached a higher number than investments in fossil fuels. The money invested in renewables brought the total amount invested since the early 2000s to over 1 trillion dollars. Surprisingly, a good chunk of this activity is driven by the sustainability goals of large corporations.
According to a new report, over two-thirds (68%) of the companies on the Global 100 list have set targets to lower emissions or purchase clean energy. 58% of companies on the Fortune 100 list have set similar goals. As Stephen Lacey has pointed out on ThinkProgress, it is refreshing to see solid goals put into place that don’t involve purchasing renewable energy credits – a common move many corporations have taken to enhance green marketing in the past.
The report analysis, done by Ceres, WWF, and Calvert Investments has pointed out that this is a significant shift in corporate culture, and that many companies with a history of purchasing credits are beginning to favor on-site investments that will improve long-term sustainability goals. In a survey of 400 large global companies by the Carbon Disclosure Project back in September, 37% said they are seeing the impacts of climate change on business, compared to only 10% in 2010.
Many companies have set targets for 2015 and 2020, which is encouraging to hear since there are no c global targets from nations to reduce greenhouse gases. It’s large corporations that are the biggest emitters, so this is one small yet signigicant step toward tackling the Earth’s temperature rise on a global scale.
As positive as all this sounds, moves like this do not come without skepticism. WalMart recently announced it would cut packaging and increase the efficiency of its operations with renewables, but that doesn’t overshadow the fact that WalMart makes its fortune by selling cheap, unsustainable products in stores operated by low-paid employees.
The bottom line is that corporate sustainability is a long process, so even if a company doesn’t completely revolutionize its entire business model, the baby steps taken are a great method of short-term success that will (hopefully) encourage even further action. I’d say two-thirds of large global businesses making even just a little effort is an encouraging number to hear.
Image CC licensed by h080: Rooftop solar array.