Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

These are the questions we hear a lot and you’ll find the answers below. But if you have others, please don’t hesitate to contact us — we’re here to help.

Salesforce’s Net Zero Emissions Status

Our 2021 announcement means that Salesforce has net zero residual emissions across our full value chain. We worked to reduce our Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions, and then compensated for emissions we can’t yet reduce by matching our energy use with 100% renewable energy1 (“Purchasing 100% Renewable Energy”) and purchasing high-quality carbon credits to cover all emissions that remain. In 2017, we achieved net zero residual emissions for Scope 1 and 2 emissions only. Now, importantly, we include Scope 3 as well, the indirect emissions in our value chain.

Achieving net zero residual emissions across our entire value chain in 2021 was an important milestone. But we recognize that maintaining net zero residual emissions and achieving our long-term sustainability goals is a continuous journey, requiring us to continue reducing emissions as quickly as possible and aligning our full value chain (Scopes 1, 2, and 3) to the global trajectory of ~50% emissions reductions by 2030, and to near-zero absolute emissions by 2040. We will continue to compensate for any remaining emissions by Purchasing 100% Renewable Energy (see here for renewable energy procurement suggestions) and purchasing high-quality carbon credits to compensate for any emissions that remain.

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100% renewable energy means procuring electricity / the claims to electricity produced from renewable energy resources equivalent to the electricity we use globally on an annual basis.

We believe that key ESG metrics should be transparent, re-performable, consistent, and verifiable. Since FY18, we have engaged Ernst & Young LLP (EY), an independent third party, to perform a limited assurance review over selected environmental metrics, including selected components of our emissions, carbon offsets, and net zero residual emissions claims. As in previous years, our Stakeholder Impact Report includes a link to EY’s report.
We are actively working to reduce our absolute emissions 50% by 2030, but the planet can’t wait for us to offset the emissions we generate today. That's why we are doing what we can to reduce our emissions across Scopes 1, 2, and 3 today, while compensating for remaining emissions with renewable energy and carbon credits, resulting in net zero residual emissions. We will continue to stay laser-focused on drastically reducing our remaining emissions, since this is the most important part of our net zero journey.

It is not. SBTi’s definition of net zero states that, in order for a company to claim it has achieved net zero, it must reduce 90% of its gross emissions before offsetting any remaining emissions with carbon removal credits only (no carbon reduction or carbon avoidance credits).

Salesforce believes that — as a planet — we must reduce our emissions by 90% and do so as quickly as possible. But, realistically, we may not achieve this milestone until 2040-50. For every company, reducing emissions by 90% will also take time, especially with goals that rightfully include all of Scope 1, 2, and 3. Under SBTi’s definition, no company can claim they are net zero for decades. We believe that companies should be able to claim they’re net zero if they’re fully committed to decarbonization and have demonstrated they’re on the path to achieving the deep emissions reductions that will put the planet on a 1.5 degree trajectory, if they’re also compensating for their remaining emissions with high-quality carbon credits to achieve net zero residual emissions across their full value chain, transitioning to using removal credits only over time.

Salesforce joined The Climate Pledge to demonstrate the power of collaboration and inspire other businesses to join us on this climate journey. Our Climate Pledge commitment aligns much more closely to SBTI's net zero definition. By 2040, we will have significantly reduced our emissions and will be using removal credits only in order to compensate for any emissions that remain. But, since the planet can't wait, every year between now and then we will continue to prioritize emissions reductions first and will compensate fully for all emissions that we can't avoid or reduce across our full value chain.

How did/do we do it?

Salesforce has been on our net zero journey for over a decade, and we’re not done. Our leadership team acknowledged the climate emergency, and we have simply chosen to move quickly to compensate for all of our Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions. Yet, we still have decades of work ahead of us to further reduce our emissions and achieve our global climate goals.
Salesforce built Net Zero Cloud (formerly called Sustainability Cloud) to simplify the process for calculating and reporting on our own carbon footprint. Being able to quickly track, analyze, and report on our environmental footprint with reliable, investor-grade data has proven essential for third-party reviews, financial filings, voluntary climate disclosures (e.g., our annual Stakeholder Impact Report and 10-K filings) and, perhaps most importantly, building trust among stakeholders and supercharging our ability to achieve our climate goals.

Our vision is to be the leading example of strategic decarbonization across an organization's entire value chain. Only when customers and suppliers prioritize data-driven climate action together will we achieve impactful change at scale.

We’ve publicly committed to working with suppliers, who represent 60% of our Scope 3 emissions, to set their own science-based reduction targets by 2024. We’ve also introduced a Sustainability Exhibit that is being integrated into our supplier contracts. This Exhibit requires that suppliers disclose their carbon emissions (Scopes 1, 2, and 3), set science-based emissions reduction targets, and move toward providing carbon-neutral products and service to Salesforce. Of course, each supplier is unique. When incorporating an Exhibit, we evaluate the sustainability goals of each supplier as well as the emissions associated with the specific products and services we use.

We are committed to working with our customers to help them develop and track their own climate targets with Net Zero Cloud. With powerful Tableau dashboards, customers can visualize their sustainability data, discover trends, leverage transparent reporting, and identify the most strategic areas for improvement.

Since 2018, Salesforce has been committed to offsetting 100% of employee commuting and business travel emissions with carbon credits. Beyond our encouragement that employees choose lower-emission transit, combine trips, or avoid travel altogether, Salesforce is an inaugural customer of JetBlue’s Sustainable Travel Partners program, which helps companies reduce their business travel emissions. Salesforce also compensates for travel emissions through the funding the purchase of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) through JetBlue and other partners.
Legally, most companies do not have to report Scope 3 emissions today, but reporting today could prevent a company from having to scramble to calculate emissions in the future as regulations and public opinion change. In addition, customers, investors, employees, and other stakeholders are paying closer attention and applying pressure on organizations to provide greater transparency on their emissions. A company’s reputation is now completely inseparable from that of its environmental impact and that of its full value chain.

In 2021, Salesforce achieved an important milestone: Purchasing 100% Renewable Energy, see definition above. Since our first renewable energy commitment in 2013, Salesforce has been working to accelerate the global transition to clean, renewable sources of electricity. To this end, we made our approach available for others to replicate and improve upon in our white paper More Than a Megawatt.

Our projects are both in the United States and international. In 2020, we entered into our first international power purchase agreement with X-ELIO’s Blue Grass solar farm in Queensland, Australia. Once online, the project will generate enough energy to power the equivalent of 80,000 homes and save more than 320,000 tons of CO2 emissions annually.

Reducing emissions is the most important part of our climate action strategy, and should be the first priority for any business embarking on their net zero journey. Salesforce is committed to deeply reducing emissions across our entire value chain (Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions) and using high-quality carbon credits to compensate for any emissions that remain, bringing our net emissions balance to zero. To reduce our emissions, we looked across our entire value chain and developed emissions reduction strategies in four key areas: Work From Anywhere, IT Infrastructure, Business Travel, and Supplier Enablement.

Salesforce takes a systemic approach to addressing the climate crisis. We acknowledge that every company must pull all the “levers” they have at their disposal, which means dedicating resources to implement diverse solutions internally as well as throughout their value chain. Salesforce prioritizes climate action from a programmatic standpoint, and has also made a significant financial commitment to achieve net zero residual emissions today. Our goal is to enable other companies to accelerate their own net zero journeys, so we will continue openly sharing our lessons learned and expanding Net Zero Cloud functionality.

How much a company would need to invest in carbon credits to reach net zero residual emissions is unique to each business. Net Zero Cloud is an award-winning platform for companies to determine their current carbon footprint. Once this baseline data is understood, companies can identify high-impact emissions reduction strategies and understand how many carbon credits are required to achieve net zero residual emissions today. 

Carbon Credits & Offsets

Critics claim that carbon credits allow polluters to "buy their way" out of accountability, or that the offset projects themselves have negative externalities. It’s true that not all carbon credits are equally beneficial. But more and more companies — including Salesforce — have rigorous standards for evaluating potential carbon credit purchases and seek out high-quality carbon credits to compensate for emissions they can’t yet reduce.

Emissions reduction is always the most important, first step in any company’s net zero journey. But carbon credits also play an important role in enabling the world to move closer to net zero. Carbon offset projects also bring capital to areas of the world most impacted by the climate crisis, and high-quality, well-designed projects provide significant positive co-benefits to affected regional communities. It will continue to be critical for Salesforce, and any other company taking bold climate action, to be transparent about how carbon offset projects are evaluated and selected.

We use a combination of avoidance and removal carbon credits. We follow a robust due diligence process to vet carbon credits before we procure them. For every potential carbon credit purchase, we apply detailed evaluation criteria that are based on global best practices. We also work with qualified independent consultants and expert brokers to help guide us.
  • Proyecto Mirador: Provides fuel-efficient cookstoves in rural homes throughout Honduras and in certain areas of Guatemala. Traditional wood-burning cookstoves are replaced with locally constructed, clean fuel-efficient ones, lowering carbon emissions and deforestation while improving family health through better indoor air quality. The organization supports 24 small businesses and employs more than 200 people. The project uses Salesforce to maintain a database of stove locations, before and after photographs, and more than 300,000 surveys of use and maintenance information to verify stoves are working correctly.
  • Sea of Change: Replants mangrove forests and provides social and technical assistance to the local population in Myanmar. Due to human activity, only 16% remains of the original coastline mangrove forest. Mangroves are important nurseries for fish and crabs, feeding grounds for migratory birds, and are a first line of defense against storm surges and floodwaters. This project is planting more than 6 million trees to restore 2,200 hectares of these forests. They are also working with the local population (60% living below the national poverty line) to create alternative sources of income, build technical skills, and adapt to more sustainable living practices.
  • Katingan-Mentaya Peatland Project: Conserving peat swamp forests, protecting orangutan habitat, and improving local livelihoods. The project protects and is rewetting much of its 350,000 acres of Indonesian peat swamp forests, a biodiverse rich ecosystem threatened by conversion to palm oil and acacia plantations. Preserving peat swamps also provides clean water, prevents devastating fires that unleash large amounts of CO2, and preserves habitat for the endangered Bornean orangutan and Proboscis monkey. In partnership with 34 villages, the project has created a culture of sustainable innovation – creating jobs, supporting small businesses, and improving education, clean water, and health for hundreds of people. It earned triple-gold certification under the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standards.
Forests are one of the best ways to combat climate change, yet the current climate crisis is increasing the size, frequency, and intensity of forest fires. We do take a risk of having a carbon project “reversal” — paying an offset project to sequester carbon, only to have the sequestered carbon flow back due to fire or other natural disasters. We at least partially mitigate this risk by:
  • Only purchasing forest carbon credits that have carbon insurance via “buffer pools,” which are regularly assessed for their ability to replace carbon credits that are accidentally reversed.
  • Only supporting projects that have specific risk assessments and risk mitigation plans.
  • Supporting projects that have in-depth understanding of specific regional climate risks and provide specific evidence they have created climate-resilient ecosystems.

Trees & Forests

To address climate change, we need to both cut emissions and draw down the carbon from the atmosphere. In terms of carbon drawdown, forests are the most effective tool we've got at the moment. Trees provide additional benefits every day by providing shade, blocking wind, improving biodiversity, purifying our air, preventing soil erosion, cleaning our water, and adding natural beauty to our homes and communities.

On a local level, trees provide powerful green infrastructure that fights climate change, advances equity, and creates tangible benefits for all people in a community. Salesforce’s tree equity and urban reforestation initiative aims to mobilize and engage ecopreneurs, local organizations, and volunteers (including Salesforce employees).

Because trees and forests are critical to address the climate crisis and biodiversity collapse, 1t.org is working to conserve, restore, and grow one trillion trees by 2030. 1t.org is part of the World Economic Forum. In order to meet the low end estimate of carbon removal from the IPCC report, 100 gigatons (GT) is the amount of carbon we as a planet need to remove from the atmosphere by 2100. No single business or entity can accomplish this on their own, but we need big goals that inspire progress and solutions with visible and credible impact.

Most recently, Salesforce contributed $100 million to accelerate 1t.org’s work, and Marc and Lynne Benioff contributed $200 million. Additionally in 2020, Salesforce set a goal to support and mobilize the conservation and restoration of 100 million trees over the next decade, and within two years already have funded more than 43 million tress.

Salesforce also contributes our technology in the form of UpLink, a new digital platform to bring together stakeholders of all sizes to solve the UN Sustainable Development Goals, including how to address climate change.

We also provide 1t.org with our strategic input and guidance around how to engage corporations and drive reforestation and tree-planting efforts.

Sustainability at Salesforce

Salesforce has been on this sustainability transformation journey for over a decade. Our core values — Trust, Customer Success, Innovation, Equality, and Sustainability — are inextricably linked to how we think and what we do around climate action. To build a climate strategy, we asked ourselves:

  • What do we do? And why? (our products & services, mission)
  • How do we do it? (our operating model and value chain)
  • Who do we influence? (our employees, customers, society)

The result was our Climate Action Plan, which outlines six sustainability business priorities that we believe every company can adopt to help accelerate our collective journey to net zero emissions:

  • Emissions Reduction
  • Carbon Removal
  • Trillion Trees & Ecosystem Restoration
  • Education & Mobilization
  • Innovation
  • Regulation & Policy
The climate crisis is the biggest challenge humanity has ever faced. Everyone has a role to play, and each person and every company should use their unique superpower to take action in the ways that will have the biggest impact. For Salesforce, our superpower is software and customer success, which is why we created Net Zero Cloud to help each of our customers tackle their carbon footprints and get to net zero emissions themselves.
Salesforce has publicly supported the climate provisions in the Build Back Better Act, and Marc Benioff was at the White House with President Biden in early FY23 to demonstrate our support for the legislation. We have a strong history of supporting climate action at the policy level, such as including climate as a part of our public policy platform. But, we need to continue taking bold action, collaborating, and inspiring everyone to step up and contribute to making change.
Salesforce Equality Groups are employee-led and organized groups centered around common life experiences or backgrounds and their allies. Earthforce is a group of Salesforce employees dedicated to promoting and celebrating environmental responsibility both at Salesforce and in the communities we serve. Earthforce believes in being better people for the planet and creating a better planet for the people. Every employee's V2MOM now includes sustainability. The V2MOM is our annual business planning and goal-setting process at Salesforce. Its main purpose is to keep all employees aligned and focused on the company’s primary objectives, and moving forward together faster. The V2MOM helps us prioritize what’s most important to achieve our vision, and holds us accountable for delivering on the goals we set for the year.

There are so many things we can do to leave a smaller footprint! Initiatives can be started by anyone and in any region. The Sustainability team works with stakeholders to help scale programs across our business, and Earthforce champions play a critical role.

For lanyard recycling specifically, we aim to recycle them whenever possible, but some regions have facility limitations. Plastic pollution and waste are a global issue. Because we’re a cloud company, 90% of our emissions actually come from our electricity consumption, but that doesn't mean we won't make shifts in our offices to reduce plastic where possible.

The Real Estate and Workplace Services team is also doing a fantastic job: installing reusable dishes where possible, ordering in bulk, and shifting snack options. Unfortunately, sometimes these shifts are hard to make, whether it's a health and safety issue, accessibility concern, or it might not make sense. Asking questions and proposing solutions is a great way to start a conversation and make change happen.

We also know there’s tremendous impact when each employee bring sustainability into their home and personal lives. That’s why we published the Sustainability at Home Guide to share some best practices.

We work with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on a range of issues, including privacy, digital trade, immigration, cybersecurity, and other critical matters to global businesses. Specifically on climate, we have signed a Climate Solutions Working Group (CSWG) letter advocating to better align the Chamber’s position with greater action on climate. 

Individual Action

We love Cool Effect but there are many platforms where you can purchase offsets. Project Mirador, available at Cool Effect, actually uses Salesforce throughout their organization, including GPS to track and monitor each of the clean-cook stoves they deploy.

Advocacy is a key way for everyone to have impact outside of Salesforce. And, educating yourself as well as those in your family and friend circles has a viral effect! Be creative and use your individual skills to make a difference.

 
 

Still have questions? Let’s talk.