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Posts tagged 'sustainable economy'

IKEA plans to produce more renewable energy than they consume by 2020

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IKEA Sustainability Strategy

IKEA plans to produce more renewable energy than they consume by 2020 which is great news but what are the details? And could they do more?

More and more companies are setting ambitious targets to resolve environmental issues – IKEA is one of them. They want to produce as much renewable energy as they consume by 2020, and they have set interim targets such as 70% by 2015.

Other specific targets include:

·      Become 20% more energy efficient in own operations by the end of FY15, and encourage and enable direct suppliers to achieve the same by 2017

·      By 2015, reduce carbon emissions from own operations by 50% and those of suppliers by 20%

This initiative demonstrates real leadership but for many sustainability experts the key test is whether they will look at the full life cycle, or not. Most of the impacts of IKEA are in the supply chain (for physical products) and in customer’s homes (energy use).

Energy use:

·      Energy consuming products will be, on average, at least 50% more efficient than the 2008 range. (would be good to know whether efficiency is calculated on absolute basis or per unit of function).

·      By 2016, all electric hobs will be energy efficient induction hobs.

·      By 2016, entire lighting range will switch to LED offered at the lowest prices.

·      By 2017, offer the most energy efficient home appliances at the lowest prices (A+++?, how this is defined will be critical)

When it comes to physical products, there are some aspects to challenge – What are the raw materials with the highest environmental footprint and what are their substitutes? How will they shift consumers purchasing behaviours?

Are these targets more defensive and risk oriented than game-changing?:

·      100% of the wood used is sourced in compliance with forestry requirements.

·      By 2017 all of the leather will be fully traceable and produced according to standards that help protect forests and respect animal welfare (leather has a huge footprint, no substitute?).

·      By 2020, all palm oil currently used, in e.g. candles or as food ingredient, will either come from verified sustainable sources or be replaced by more sustainable raw materials.

·      By 2015, all cotton used in IKEA products is produced in line with the Better Cotton Initiative and we will continuously investigate complimentary fibres with improved sustainability performance relative to cotton (the second part is extremely interesting though, if they find a low impact substitute for cotton this would be huge).

·      Ensure full supply chain control (chain-of-custody) for all critical materials and processes, and have an IT system providing clear overview internally by 2015 (this might be defensive but it is critical and shows real thirst for accountability across the supply chain).

Personally I’m missing the mention of Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) and Environmental Product Declaration (EPD), possibly expecting more from a Swedish company. You know when a company is really facing the elephant in the room when they tackle all impacts of all products, across all lifecycle stages.

Having an LCA for the various products, or at least for their various raw materials they use would be very welcome. This would give them a full understanding of where the real embedded carbon is, and would truly guide the prioritisation of material substitution.

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Paul King from The UK Building Council Talks Sustainability

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Here is an interview with Paul King, Chief Executive of the UK Green Building Council.

Paul King UK Building CouncilPaul became the first CEO of the UK Green Building Council in May 2007. Previously he worked for WWF-UK where he was Director of Campaigns, and formerly Campaign Director for WWF’s One Million Sustainable Homes campaign and co-founder of One Planet Living. Paul is Chairman of the Zero Carbon Hub and is a member of the Zero Carbon Homes 2016 Task Force. He is Chair of the Green Construction Board Buildings Group, and member of the Government’s Green Deal Providers Forum, Retail Energy Efficiency Taskforce and the Igloo Regeneration Sustainability Committee. He was previously a member of the Low Carbon Construction IGT, Sustainable Buildings Task Group, Code for Sustainable Homes Steering Group and the Egan Review of Skills for Sustainable Communities. On an international level he is a Board member of the World Green Building Council and Chairs the WorldGBC Europe Network.

Follow Paul on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.

What is your definition of sustainability in one sentence?

Meeting people’s needs in the future.

Who is your sustainability hero and why? 

Yvette Cooper, because as Housing Minister in 2006 she dared to set the target for all new homes to be zero carbon from 2016. It was a leap of faith and it has transformed the industry’s mindset.

If you were running a powerful environmental NGO, which issue would be the focus of your first campaign?

I am! It’s powerful because of the breadth and depth of our industry supporters, who are campaigning for a sustainable built environment.

What’s the worst sustainability claim you ever heard?

That an air conditioned beach was part of a sustainable development in the Middle East.

What will get us out of this mess? Miraculous technology, tough regulation or self-flagellation?

Making it meaningful to people personally. To paraphrase David Cameron (of all people!), if the fire brigade told you there was a 95 per cent likelihood your house was going to burn down and your children were inside, you would probably do something about it. The scientific consensus on climate change is the same.

If you could approve a law related to sustainability which would be your first?

I’d require operational energy labelling on all buildings, to raise awareness of how much energy and money we’re wasting.

“Sustainable brand” – admirable ambition or ad-man spin? 

Sustainable living can be easy, affordable and attractive. That needs communicating and marketing like anything else we might aspire to.

What is your message to the Fortune 500 CEOs?

If you’re not thinking very seriously about sustainability, you’re not thinking about what your customers will want and need in the future. And you will go out of business.

What is your favourite sustainability website?

Pinpoint (http://pinpoint.ukgbc.org/). It’s Google meets Trip Advisor for green buildings.

And… what is your dirty unsustainable secret.

Watching Top Gear with my two boys. I justify it by claiming it gives them a counter-balance to my green brainwashing, but I think I enjoy it as much as they do.

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sustainable energy for all by 2030?

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What will it take for us to reach global sustainable energy for all by 2030?

Here is an infographic from the The World Bank visualising the goals that need to be met to offer sustainable energy worldwide.

Sustainable Energy For All

Report Highlights

* Business as usual will not remotely suffice to achieve the goals of Sustainable Energy for ALL (SE4ALL) initiative.

* Twenty high-impact countries in Asia and Africa account for about two-thirds those without access to electricity, and three-quarters of those who use solid fuels—wood, charcoal, animal and crop waste, and coal—to cook or heat their homes.

* Renewable energy accounted for 18% of the global energy mix in 2010. The improvement rate of energy efficiency, described by a compound annual growth rate of energy intensity (CAGR), was -1.3% between 1990 and 2010. Both need to double.

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Find Partners With Your Level Of ‘Values Driven’ Commitment

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To achieve Mission Zero, we strive to only work with partners who have that same level of commitment to building a restorative loop.

Our trusted yarn supplier and partner, Aquafil, has pioneered ways to supply Interface with recycled nylon fibers since 2011 re-purposing waste nylon from many sources, including yarn reclaimed through our own ReEntry® program and end of life fishing nets recovered from the fishing industry supply chain.

With at least 660 million people around the globe relying on the ocean for their livelihoods, and many living on the poverty line, Miriam Turner, Interface‘s Assistant VP, Co-Innovation, saw an opportunity. Inspired by Aquafil‘s recycling strides, she asked “Could we take this down to the community level and benefit some of the poorest people in the world?

What if we could build a truly inclusive business model buying discarded nets from local fishermen giving them extra income and cleaning up the beaches and oceans at the same time?”

Scoping a project of this magnitude requires a lot of hands, hearts and minds so in 2011 the Co-innovation Team began assembling an army of collaborators, including the Zoological Society of LondonTM and marine biologist, Dr. Nick Hill. After intensive research and planning, they decided to focus the Net-Works pilot program within the 7,000 Philippine islands, on the Danajon Bank in one of only six double reefs in the world.

And thus, Net-Works was born. The effects of clearing the beaches of nets isn’t just aesthetic. “In an eco-system as delicate as the Danajon Bank,” Hill states, “discarded nets are incredibly destructive. The nets take centuries to degrade, and with a nylon density greater than that of water, the nets lie on the ocean floor where they do untold damage to marine life.”

Along with helping the villagers clean, sort and sell back the waste nets, Interface and the Net-Works partners have established community banking systems for the residents supporting and strengthening the local, developing economy, and providing new financial opportunities for residents. Community banking empowers village members to establish forms of micro-insurance, savings and loans for the benefit of both individuals and the community.

It means building new models of materials sourcing to ensure the health and safety of our environment. It means beautifully designed products, crafted with care and purpose.

And it means another step closer to achieving Mission Zero

 

660 Million People

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Sustainability is not part of a company’s DNA until it is embedded in its products

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Many CEOs claim that sustainability is part of their company’s DNA.

What a cliché, what an easy thing to say, impossible to prove or dispute. But how can sustainability be in a company’s DNA until the core product or service of the company has significantly less impact?

The real DNA of companies are their products or services, what they offer to customers, what they sell. The first thing is to understand the true impact of your products.

Product sustainability questions get you to that elephant in the room.

We discovered that around 70% of the overall environmental impacts of their carpet tiles were related to the raw materials used to make them.

Of these, the oil-based nylon yarn, just one single raw material, had the single biggest environmental impact. In fact, nylon production accounts for almost half of the impacts across the full lifecycle of a carpet tile, a hard pill to swallow for a carpet manufacturer (the fibre is what makes carpet a carpet).

Rather than neglecting the elephant in the room, Interface re-focused its efforts where it could make the biggest difference: reducing the amount of yarn used, finding ways to recycle old yarn into new, and looking for bio-based alternatives to nylon. Today the company has products made out of 100% recycled nylon using half the amount of yarn, cutting the overall environmental impact by half.

As a side note, some other carpet manufacturers were marketing wool carpet as a natural and sustainable option but wool has between four and six times more embodied carbon than virgin nylon.

For more on this subject, read ‘Full Product Transparency‘. This book outlines a path towards a more practical era for ‘corporate responsibility’, where companies make real environmental gains based on hard facts, using lifecycle assessment (LCA) and environmental product declarations (EPDs). 

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How to revolutionise other industry sectors through a magic metric

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A practical guide for policy-makers. So how do we get beyond the car sector?

Below is a brief guide to creating transformational change within a sector or product category based on the concept of FPT.

1. Do an LCA in order to understand the main environmental impact of that sector or product category (e.g. food, buildings, chemicals, electricity, etc.).

2. Develop a common metric based on the full lifecycle impact or at least on the main impact area.

3. Establish a long-term goal stating what performance is required by when. This can be a fixed value or variable in order to increase competition.

4. Establish minimum performance required and ban underperform- ing products (you might get some World Trade Organization issues but there are always ways around it).

5. Create a system where industries pay penalties for underachieving and/or tax credits for overachieving. That encourages industries to compete and innovate. 6. Mandate visibility of the common metric on all promotional materials.

7. Enable and encourage national taxes, whereby the products with more environmental impact pay more and products with less impact pay less (variable product tax).

8. Enable local regulation that gives ‘incentives’ to products with less impact (e.g. what free parking and free congestion charge is doing for the cars).

9. Support and enable data intermediaries to be creative and do their job to help consumers make sense of the data.

10. Release the power of public procurement and buy only products that achieve certain performance levels.

11. Encourage equally the power of corporate procurement.

12. Award with the EU Ecolabel those products that demonstrate more than 50% impact reductions over the average product.

13. Sit and relax – the market usually delivers (but you need to tell the market what you want).

 

Let’s look at the building sector and try to apply this thinking (in a very simplistic way):

a) Magic metrics could be kWh/m2 and kg of embodied CO2/m2 (I will focus on the first one).

b) Set up a minimum European standard of, let’s say, 100 kWh/m2 for new buildings in 2020.

c) Give the EU Ecolabel to new buildings under, let’s say, 50 kWh/m2.

d) Give tax discounts to new buildings under, let’s say, 50 kWh/m2.

e) Facilitate licences/permits to the super-performing buildings (e.g. fast track or no permit required).

f) Existing houses pay variable rate of stamp duty and local council tax according to their energy rating (would encourage retrofit more radically than green deal type of approaches).

g) Government would commit to the strongest standard for new buildings and would retrofit existing government buildings to a minimum standard.

h) Mandatory energy ratings displayed in every public and private building including offices, retail, etc.

This is a back of the envelope approach that does not take into account the fine details such as the differences in building types such as domestic, office or retail, but it gives an idea of what the magic metric approach can deliver.

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PEF Policy Conference – 29-30 April – Berlin

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Join us at the PEF Policy Conference where they will release details on the upcoming pilot phase on the development and testing of Product and Organisational Environmental Footprinting Category Rules, benchmarks and communication vehicles.

Rana Pant from the European Commission Joint Research Center will be available to assist Michele Galatola from DG Environment on the technical aspects of the pilot phase. An updated programme for the event will be posted tomorrow here.

The PEF Policy Conference will be held on 29-30 April 2013 in Berlin. Objectives include; developing an early understanding of open questions, next steps and perspectives from different stakeholders on the future use of the detailed product environmental footprinting methodology and respective policy options. All participants are invited to actively contribute to the open dialogue to sharpen the common understanding of the road ahead.

Please click on the image below to find out all about the PCF World Forum including the program of events for this coming week.

Product Environmental  Footprinting (PEF)

Registration is still available via online or Fax Form

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Helping companies and consumers navigate the green maze

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The European Commission has released a fantastic initiative around the subject of ‘Building the Single Market for Green Products’. Helping companies and consumers navigate the green maze.

What is the problem for companies?

A company wishing to market its product as green in several Member State markets faces a confusing range of methods and initiatives. Let alone the hundreds of certification sharks, private labels and incumbent national systems that make a huge amount of money from this.

What is the problem for ‘Mum’ in the supermarket?

Consumers are also confused by the stream of incomparable and diverse environmental information: according to a recent Eurobarometer, 48 % of European consumers are confused by the stream of environmental information they receive. This also affects their readiness to make green purchases.

In the words of Commissioner Potocnik

“To boost sustainable growth, we need to make sure that the most resource-efficient and environmentally-friendly products on the market are known and recognisable. By giving people reliable and comparable information about the environmental impacts and credentials of products and organisations, we enable them to choose. And by helping companies to align their methods we cut their costs and administrative burdens.”

The commission has issued strong guidance on product footprinting as well as organisation footprinting. I will be commenting on these documents in the future.

The EC is launching a three-year pilot phase. Their objectives:

* Set up and validate the process of the development of product group-specific rules (Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules – PEFCRs), including the development of performance benchmarks. Where product group-specific rules already exist and are used by stakeholders, the Commission will use these as a basis for the development of the PEFCRs;

* Make the application of the environmental footprint methods easier, especially for SMEs, by testing innovative ways of managing the process and through the development of tools;

* Test different compliance and verification systems, in order to set up and validate proportionate, effective and efficient compliance and verification systems;

* Test different business-to-business and business-to-consumer communication vehicles for PEF information in collaboration with stakeholders.

I hope businesses will jump at these pilots to achieve our dream of open standards and push for full product transparency in the market without delay.

 

Links

Original press release

Draft Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council: Building the Single Market for Green Products – Facilitating better information on the environmental performance of products and organisations (April 2013)

Draft Commission Recommendation on The use of common methods to measure and communicate the life cycle environmental performance of products and organisations (April 2013)

Annex II of the Recommendation: Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) Guide (April 2013)

Annex III of the Recommendation: Organisation Environmental Footprint (OEF) Guide (April 2013)

For more information contact: 

Joe Hennon (+32 2 295 35 93) and Monica Westeren (+32 2 299 18 30)

 

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The magic metric that changed the car industry

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What has happened to the car industry using g CO2/km as a metric is a very good example of the depth of transformation that product transparency can deliver. This fascinating metric has enabled European regulators to mandate top-down targets for car companies, enabled customers to have a comparable reference for the car footprint and provide national and local legislators the means to tax what is higher impact and support what is lower.

This transparent metric has also created competition in the car sector with the focus being upon their biggest environmental impact, ‘in life use’, which in turn has created a huge level of innovation in the car industry and supply chain. A decade ago the car industry had no incentive to design cars that would consume any less petrol. It really wasn’t at the core of car manufacturers’ strategy.

The industry used to design cars that were affordable to build but not necessarily always affordable to run. Yet according to European Union (EU) research, passenger cars make up 12% of total EU CO2 emissions. And yet, according to the European Environmental Agency, around 77% of the impact of a passenger car is in the ‘use’ phase with a further 13% directly linked to the production of the fuel consumed in the ‘use’ phase.

Environmental impacts during the lifecycle of a car

SOURCEShttp://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/figures/life-cycle-analysis-of-passenger-cars and http://ec.europa.eu/environment/ipp/pdf/jrc_report.pdf

For this transformational change to take place an overall regulatory framework at EU, national and local level was needed. Furthermore, and crucially, a common industry metric was required that could be used in the car industry. That magic metric was to be tail-pipe (exhaust) emissions measured as grams of CO2 per kilometre driven (g CO2/km). Although incomplete, because it didn’t take into account whole-life CO2 emissions and environmental impacts, this partial transparency at least focused on the biggest issue and has transformed the industry. g CO2/ km has given a purpose to policy-making, often bureaucratic, expensive, ineffective and siloed. Below is an overview of some of the key regulatory interventions this common standardised metric has enabled.

First, the bottom-up approach.

The EU Car Labelling directive was enacted to ensure that a label on fuel economy and CO2 emissions is attached to a car or displayed in a clearly visible manner near each new passenger car model at the point of sale. This bottom-up approach was based on driving transparent competition, which in turn enabled the customer to make an informed decision taking into account the biggest environmental impact of the product. Most customers might still choose a car mainly by the design or the brand but at least they have the right to know the impact of their decisions. What has been the main result of this transparency? It has cut off all the ‘greenwash’. No manufacturer today is doing green marketing on the little things they are doing in their factories or their recyclable seats. Why? Because this wonderful metric is allowing customers to say, ‘please cut the fluff and just tell me the g CO2/km for this car’.

Sustainability commoditized as it should be, like money: terrible news for marketing agencies, great news for the world. The beauty of such a metric goes beyond ‘point of sale’ to ‘all promotional materials’. Thanks to the same directive, today all car advertising must include the g CO2/km for that specific car being advertised. That has created consistency and transparency whilst simultaneously empowering the customer to not only become accustomed to the metric but make critical buying decisions based on this metric. My mother today knows that 160g CO2/km is too much and 100 g CO2/km is acceptable. Many Londoners know cars under 100 g CO2/km don’t pay the congestion charge. Consistent transparency creates customer literacy and awareness which leads to change.

Second, the old-school, top-down approach.

This key metric allowed an EU-wide regulation that came into law in 2009, requiring each manufacturer to decrease their average portfolio of emissions to 130 g CO2/km by 2015 and 95 g CO2/km by 2020. In 2008, the average g CO2/km for car emissions in the UK was 158.0 g CO2/km. In 2009 that figure was 149.5 g CO2/km so the change because of legislation is huge. Look at how effective those ugly technocrats from Brussels have been! How ironic that the UK Climate Change Committee highlights cars as one of the few successes of carbon reductions in the UK. This legislation came about because the EU ran out of patience with industry voluntary agreements.

Yes, those voluntary agreements so loved by politicians because they don’t have to impose any difficult decisions. In 1998, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), JAMA, and KAMA agreed to reduce average CO2 emissions from new cars sold to 140 g/km by 2008. That was a 25% reduction, quite considerable. But predictably when there is no stick or carrot on the table, the car manufacturers’ commitment achieved a mere 2.2% reduction between 1998 and 2006. What would you expect? So the EU set up a mandatory target and crucially gave a sensible period of time (2020) to allow companies to invest, innovate and so make the necessary widespread changes required to meet the targets of this regulatory framework.

It also came with sticks in the form of financial penalties.

Surprise, surprise, it’s working! CO2 emissions from new passenger cars have started decreasing substantially: 1.6% in 2007, 3.2% in 2008 and 5.4% in 2009. That’s the beauty of the market: tell it what you want to achieve and it will find a way to do it. The problem is that on many occasions we don’t tell the market, our supplier, what we want, or worse, we don’t have the metrics. These two combined policies, of setting agreed, clearly measurable targets and making this information clearly visible to the end customer are completely changing the playing field of competition within the car industry. And this competition through innovation will compel manufactures to meet the EU-wide target of 95 g CO2/km by 2020. Car manufacturers are doing what they are best at – designing cars – as opposed to inventing labels, patronising customers with green marketing, ‘engaging’ employees, sustainability reporting and other semi-useless stuff. But our beloved metric goes much further. It can transform national and local policy-making aimed at changing behaviours and purchasing decisions. One example at national level is the French Bonus/Malus scheme. Simply put, customers choosing to buy a heavy polluting car will pay extra tax on the price of the car, whereas customers choosing to buy a more fuel efficient car will receive a reduction in the price of the car. The tax penalty ranges from €200–2600 per car.

The incentive reductions range from €200 to €5000 and higher for even cleaner cars.

Around 31% of new vehicles will be eligible for the bonus, 25% for the malus. There are around 44% of new vehicles currently emitting between 130 and 160 g CO2/km that are not affected by the new measure. Furthermore, the bonus will be deducted from the price paid to the dealer and must be identified and visible on the bill. These facts will also provide incentives to dealers to sell cleaner cars. Another example is UK company cars.

In the UK you pay more tax for your company car if your car produces more CO2. For example, for a car of less than 75 g CO2/km the tax rate for petrol cars is 5%. For a car of 150 g it is 19% and for a car of 235 g it is 35%. This is a good example of variable tax on a clean or dirty product. The more you pollute the more tax you pay. But our magic metric is also very useful at the local level.

In London, cars which emit 100 g/km or less of CO2 and meet the Euro 5 standard for air quality qualify for zero congestion charge. A 100% exemption from congestion charge also applies to electric vehicles. In many towns in the UK such as York, Salford or Milton Keynes and Richmond, one can have discounted residents’ parking if you have a low carbon vehicle and free parking if you have an electric car.

Guess what? Customers are paying attention to the environment! Such a crazy bunch of tree-huggers…

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“Twenty years on, corporate sustainability still lacking”

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Robert Kropp wrote this article which was published on SocialFunds and then GreenBiz earlier this month. It’s a fascinating read and I’ve included the oekom research report below.

” After 20 years of rating corporate sustainability efforts, German-based oekom research has found that global giants have not been doing nearly enough in their commitments to sustainability. In its most recent annual report, oekom found that only one in six — 16.7 percent — of the companies rated has a “good” level of commitment.

That so few companies are performing at all well — none has been accorded oekom’s highest rating — is especially sobering given that 62 percent of companies now report that they pursue sustainability strategies, and almost two-thirds of those that do state that doing so has been profitable for them.

The industry sector with the highest sustainability performance rating was paper and forest, but that sector’s rating was only 47.7 out of a possible 100.

“The very industry which, more than any other, stands for sustainable management has thus failed to achieve even half of the maximum possible score,” Matthias Bönning of oekom said in a statement.

The only other sectors achieving even a rating of 40 were household products and automobile. The worst performing sectors were real estate and oil and gas — “sectors which have a key role to play in overcoming the major challenges of sustainability,” the report states. Insurance and commercial banks, both of which will play important financial roles in achieving sustainability, performed poorly as well. Not one of the 20 companies designated as best performers in the industry sectors is headquartered in the U.S. Seven are based in the U.K. and the vast majority of the rest are elsewhere in Europe. ”The quality of sustainability management in North America and Asia is significantly lower” than in Europe, the report found.

Paramount importance

Observing that addressing climate change is of “paramount importance,” the report concludes, “The time remaining for taking decisive political, economic and social action in order to prevent the worst from happening is already running out.”

However, “the ideas, concepts and technical capabilities needed to meet the challenges successfully already exist,” oekom continued. “Environmental and social commitment are not the product of economic success, but rather its root cause. Only those who manage energy and raw materials efficiently, treat their own employees and those of their suppliers fairly and offer products that are tailored to changing market requirements will also be economically successful in the long run. In this sense, sustainability is also described as long-term economics.”

oekom research was founded a year after the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. On behalf of the sustainable investors that comprise its clientele, oekom analyzes and rates both companies and nations on their sustainability performance. For several years, oekom has published an annual Corporate Responsibility Review, which rates the world’s largest companies according to their performance in the seven areas of climate protection, biodiversity, water, forestry, poverty, demographic changes and corruption.

Despite the shortfalls in this year’s report, the report isn’t all doom and gloom. In oekom CEO Robert Haßler’s foreword to this year’s edition, he described the shifting corporate response to the agency’s measurement of sustainability performance in the early years.

“At the time, many companies viewed this as a monstrous imposition,” he wrote. “Managers were not used to having outsiders systematically and comprehensively scrutinizing their social, environmental and ethical behavior.”

Click on the image to open the report

oekom report

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