Climate change is one of the most significant and urgent issues facing business and society today. At HP, we hold the conviction that the science is clear, the impacts are serious and the need to act is essential. We all—country, industry, company, community and individual—have a shared responsibility to understand our impacts and to take action to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius.
As a global company present in more than 170 countries, serving 430 of the world’s Fortune 500 businesses, we recognize the immense responsibility and opportunity we have to help mitigate climate change. I’m proud to be part of a company that has a long history of environmental stewardship, and embeds sustainability into the core of its business. We were the first global IT company to publish a full carbon footprint and the first to set bold carbon reduction goals across our entire value chain. It’s a commitment we honor as HP Inc., and one we continuously challenge ourselves to elevate.
I’m encouraged to see a growing number of businesses also actively engaging in this fight, both by improving their own sustainability performance and actively advocating for stronger climate action from world leaders and others—such as in supporting the Paris Agreement. According to a study by the We Mean Business coalition, business has committed to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 3.7 billion metric tons a year by 2030—that’s more than 60 percent of the total emissions cuts pledged by countries as part of the Paris Agreement. The private sector has a unique opportunity to make a powerful and lasting impact by driving a low-carbon economy.
Why HP and other businesses back the Paris Agreement
One action that HP is taking is partnering with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to amplify our impact. For years, HP has worked with WWF’s Climate Savers, a global program to engage business and industry on climate and energy, and we just renewed our commitment. Since the initiative began in 1999, the partners, which include 30 top companies from diverse sectors, have come together to collectively reduce GHG emissions by over 100 million tons. This is the same as taking more than 20 million cars off the road.
“Business is the force that can demonstrate leadership on climate,” said Matt Banks, manager of Climate and Business at WWF, recently told me. “If you look back at COP21 in Paris, business gave the leadership at that meeting cover to show that a lot of the solutions, which can be implemented throughout the private sector, are time-tested, they work, and are delivering real reductions.”
This includes such solutions as improved energy efficiency through behavioral or management changes, energy efficiency through technology improvements and deployment of low-carbon energy, particularly solar and wind power.
One of the chief aims of the Paris Agreement—keeping a global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius this century, and driving efforts to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels—not only would help avoid some of the worst impacts of climate change, but also could produce billions of dollars in business benefits. If U.S. businesses act now to reduce GHG emissions by an average of 3 percent annually—on track for the 2 degree pathway—they could save up to $190 billion by 2020 alone, or $780 billion over 10 years, according to a 2013 report by WWF, CDP and McKinsey & Company. This also would result in a 1.2 gigaton reduction in carbon emissions by 2020, the same as shutting down more than 300 coal-fired power plants in one year.
Why science-based targets?
One of the most effective ways for companies to align their corporate goals with the Paris Agreement is by establishing science-based targets. More than 200 companies have committed to set them, including HP.
Targets adopted by companies to reduce GHG emissions are considered “science-based” if they are in line with the level of decarbonization required to keep global temperature increase below 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial temperatures. The methods enable each industry and each company to determine their own necessary reductions.
In other words: Instead of setting a goal that seems to ‘feel right’ for the company or is only connected to internal metrics, we’re now connecting goals to the context of the problem, and to the path we need to take to solve it.
Like a growing number of businesses today, HP views sustainability not just as a responsibility, but an opportunity to strengthen our business for the future. Science-based targets help ensure that our business is resilient to potential impacts associated with climate change, as well as being well-prepared to adapt to the changing regulatory and business environment. Sustainability leadership is a key part of reinvention at HP, and setting science-based targets helps inform how we challenge norms, innovate, and create new markets and opportunities.
HP accelerates action on climate action
For years, we have been setting goals to cut GHGs and reporting on the actions we have taken. In doing so, we at HP have sent a clear message to companies, governments and other organizations that we must all take action to address the root causes of climate change. While HP previously announced carbon-reduction targets for our products, we now are announcing our latest reduction targets for our operations.
With our new science-based target, we’re committing to reduce the GHG emissions from our global operations by 25 percent by 2025, compared to 2015. These are direct emissions (Scope 1) and indirect emissions (Scope 2) from sources HP owns or controls.
To achieve this target, we’ve set a three-phase approach to reduce our climate impacts across our facilities and transportation fleet worldwide. The first phase is optimizing energy efficiency in our operations and buildings, which includes implementing IT-based energy savings systems that integrate digital lighting control, diagnostic sensors and software and mobile user apps with building automation systems. The other two phases focus on shifting toward less GHG-intensive energy sources, including increased use of on-site renewable power, and utilizing acquired or generated off-site renewable power to offset brown power emissions.
And in 2016, we joined RE100 in setting a goal to achieve 100 percent renewable electricity usage in global operations, with an interim target of 40 percent by 2020.
While this operations goal is science-based, it only addresses Scope 1 and Scope 2. Since about 90 percent of our carbon footprint is Scope 3—indirect emissions that occur up- and downstream in the value chain—we have set a GHG emissions reduction goal for our product portfolio and are working on also setting an ambitious and measurable reduction target for the emissions of our suppliers, which will enable us to fulfill our Science Based Target Initiative commitment.
Customers, investors demand our leadership on climate
Increasingly, our customers and investors are demanding climate leadership from us, and we’re encouraged to see that our customers also are driving climate action. In fact, more than 35 of our largest customers have signed onto the Science Based Target Initiative commitment, and that number will no doubt continue to grow.
And we continue to see more businesses step up to lead on climate. Late last year, HP was one of the first to join with other forward-thinking companies to sign on to the Business Backs Low Carbon USA, which reaffirms business support for the Paris Agreement and the need to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy at home and around the world. What started with 365 companies in November 2016 has since grown to nearly 1,000—a strong signal that business doesn’t find climate action and economic growth to be mutually exclusive.
Indeed, embracing sustainability and a low-carbon economy is the best way to secure prosperity for all today, and in the future.