Street in Geneva Switzerland
Decorative illustration of Mountains
Decorative illustration of Trees
Business as a Platform for Change

How Businesses Can Get a Grip on Their Carbon Footprint

The One Trillion Trees initiative aims to conserve, restore, and plant one trillion trees globally by 2030.

Nat Keohane, senior vice president at the Environmental Defense Fund noted, “climate and clean energy should be at the center of economic stimulus and [COVID-19] recovery efforts, so that as we emerge from the crisis we accelerate the shift to a low-carbon future.” 

It’s on us

Keohane builds on the knowledge that emissions were decoupled from economic growth years ago. Now scholars point to the fact that reductions in global warming will save trillions of dollars by the end of the century, while dismantling inequity in our global community. Still in the near term — and in the absence of a carbon tax in the U.S.  — there’s more onus on individuals and organizations to be accountable for environmental impact.

That’s where Salesforce’s recent environmental efforts can help. Here, we’ll share more about Sustainability Cloud, which helps organizations monitor, analyze, and ultimately reduce their carbon footprint, and the One Trillion Trees initiative, which aims to conserve, restore, and plant one trillion trees globally by 2030.

How corporations can get visibility into emissions data

First, Climate Week 2020 coincides with the one-year anniversary of Sustainability Cloud, which started as an internal tool to help us track and control our own emissions. We now sell it broadly so any organization can understand its impact and take action.  The tool enables a deeper look at everything from business travel to raw materials transport and electricity consumption — all of which are crunched into emissions data and reported in a pre-built dashboard on the Salesforce Platform. This makes it easier for companies to streamline the process of tracking and measuring carbon emissions output derived from energy usage and employee travel.

As a business maneuver, this is also increasingly important because consumers are seeking out products and brands that align with their personal values. The environment tops that list.

At the same time, it’s now common practice for companies to share sustainability information with customers, partners, regulators, and investors. Eight-six percent of companies in the S&P 500 Index published sustainability/responsibility reports in 2018, up from just 20% that did so in 2011.

Louis Coppola, executive vice president and co-founder of the Governance and Accountability Institute, which manages an annual analysis of sustainability reporting, wrote: “many more institutional and retail investors are expecting and even demanding greater corporate ESG (environmental, social, governance) disclosure today. The pressure is on!”

Boy and man planting tree

Plant trees — save the planet

Now more on One Trillion Trees, an initiative Salesforce is doubling down on with the launch this week of the Digital Tree Tracker. Built using the Salesforce platform, it tracks progress, highlights our reforestation partners, enables donations, and lays out other ways individuals and organizations can assist in the effort to slow Earth’s rising temperatures, stimulate biodiversity, and restore some global ecosystems.

Salesforce was an original sponsor of the tree-planting plan when it was announced earlier this year at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos. We contributed our technology in the form of WEF’s UpLink, a platform to connect stakeholders to address the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. We also set a goal to support and mobilize the conservation and restoration of 100 million trees over the next ten years. The Digital Tree Tracker holds us accountable to this commitment and transparently tracks our progress.

In today’s world, the role and raison d’etre of corporations has profoundly changed. It’s interesting to note that almost exactly 50 years ago, famed economist Milton Friedman penned an essay (a fascinating read given the current context) called “The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits.”

Writing in Fortune on the 50th anniversary of that landmark declaration, three academics say Milton’s shareholder doctrine is dead. “It is clear that this narrow, stockholder-centered view of corporations has cost society severely,” they wrote. “Well before the COVID-19 pandemic, the single-minded focus of business on profits was criticized for causing the degradation of nature and biodiversity, contributing to global warming, stagnating wages, and exacerbating economic inequality.”

Times have changed. Businesses and individuals have a key role to play in reducing environmental impact and improving the state of the world. Thankfully there are steps we can take today to improve our collective situation.

Learn more about Sustainability Cloud and how you can reduce your carbon footprint while working from home

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