Climate Pledge: 20 businesses including IBM and Iceland Foods join Amazon’s net-zero commitment

Many of the new signatories already have targets to reach - or go beyond - net-zero

The new signatories take the number of corporates signed up to the Pledge to 53. They are ACCIONA, Colis Prive, Cranswick plc, Daabon, FREE NOW, Generation Investment Management, Green Britain Group, Hotelbeds, IBM, Iceland Foods, Interface, Johnson Controls, MiiR, Orsted, Prosegur Cash, Prosegur Compañia de Seguridad, Slalom, S4Capital, UPM, and Vanderlande. 

Amazon co-created the Climate Pledge with Global Optimism in 2019, following mounting pressure from consumers, investors and its own staff to firm up its environmental ambitions and actions in line with its scale.

The Pledge is headlined by a requirement for signatories to reach net-zero emissions across all scopes by 2040 at the latest. To ensure that signatories are not over-reliant on offsetting, there is also a requirement for businesses to prioritise energy efficiency, renewable energy and creating a closed-loop for materials. Signatories are also encouraged to collaborate on key focus areas relating to clean energy, energy efficiency and the circular economy.

Many of the new signatories already had net-zero targets for 2040 or sooner. Interface, for example, is aiming to sequester more carbon than it emits by 2040, after meeting its 2020 climate goals ahead of schedule. Ørsted has already committed to reaching carbon-neutral energy generation and operations by 2025.

Several of the other new sign-ups have committed to going further and faster than the Pledge’s minimum requirements. IBM has announced a new ambition to reach net-zero emissions across Scope 1 (direct) and Scope 2 (power-related) sources by 2030. It plans to scale up investment in energy efficiency and clean energy procurement to meet this new goal, with an aim to source 90% of electricity from renewable sources within the decade, without using unbundled renewable energy certificates. Such certificates ‘offset’ non-renewable energy consumption by businesses by funding equivalent renewable generation elsewhere.

In terms of absolute emissions, IBM believes its approach will deliver a 65% reduction by 2025, against a 2010 baseline. It will tackle residual emissions by investing in what it calls “feasible technologies” including carbon capture.

Spotlight on the UK food sector

New Climate Pledge signatories sticking to the 2040 net-zero deadline include major UK food industry players Iceland Foods and Cranswick.

Iceland is widely regarded as the leader on sustainable packaging in the supermarket space. It has pledged to remove all plastics from own-label product packaging by 2023 and publicised that it now uses 29% less plastics in these applications than it did in 2018.

But it has also made significant progress in reducing its climate impact. The business recorded a 74% reduction in its absolute Scope 1 and 2 emissions between 2011 and 2020. In making a time-bound net-zero pledge, Iceland joins the likes of Sainsbury’s and Tesco, which are targeting net-zero by 2040 and 2035 in the UK respectively.

“At Iceland Foods, we believe that every business has a moral responsibility to take ambitious action to address these major and urgent sustainability issues; it is also a commercial imperative for any business that hopes to have a future,” Iceland’s managing director Richard Walker said.

As for Cranswick, the firm’s overarching ‘Second Nature’ sustainability strategy has driven the company to switch to 100% renewable grid-supplied electricity and make major strides in reducing food waste and plastics. Its 2040 net-zero commitment covers emissions from the supply chain as well as operations. Cranswick is one of the largest food producers in the UK and works across the food value chain, from farming and sourcing to processing.

“We want to be part of the solution to climate change and help inspire positive change across the broader value chain,” Cranswick’s chief executive Adam Crouch said. “We believe joining The Climate Pledge reinforces our commitment to sustainability and will have a critical role in enabling us to be that positive influence.”

Sarah George

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