Silicon Valley renewables investment, employees lack CSR awareness and weak deforestation policies for world’s largest companies
Google ahead in Silicon Valley sustainability
FEWER THAN one in three (29%) Silicon Valley companies reports on its sustainability impacts, while around four in 10 (39%) do not have a full-time sustainability manager. The findings are part of an in-depth analysis by the Centre for Sustainability Excellence of social and environmental practices of 100 companies in the tech centre of the US. Only 21% of the companies studied have activities in the six core areas assessed: community, environment, employee, ethics, supply chain and philanthropy. Listed in this top quintile is tech giant Google, which this week announced plans to become 100% reliant on renewable energy within the next 12 months. The iconic Silicon Valley firm is the world’s largest purchaser of renewable energy. It currently has 20 separate agreements with wind and solar power producers, totaling 2.6 gigawatts of renewable energy. The company has committed $2.5bn for renewable projects, which will bring its combined purchasing capacity up to $3.7bn in 2017. Google’s Silicon Valley neighbor, Apple, which doesn’t make it into the top quintile, sources 93% of its energy needs from zero-carbon sources. The electronics firm is currently investing in renewable projects capable of producing 4GW of clean energy, which it predicts will help avoid more than 30m metric tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2020.
Workers frustrated by employers’ choice of charity
MORE THAN half (53%) of UK working adults are never asked by their employers which charitable causes to support, while a similar proportion (50%) of 35-54 year olds say they have no awareness of their employer’s philanthropic work. The findings, revealed in a survey by online donation platform Givey, indicate that a lack of employee engagement is holding back workplace-giving to the tune of £5.4m. More than a fifth of the 2,000 or so working adults surveyed say they would donate on average 20% more through company-led giving schemes if the causes supported mattered to them personally. Younger employees are most aggravated, with over one third claiming to be frustrated by the lack of scope in their employers’ choice of charitable causes. The survey follows last week’s Giving Tuesday, which ran in 98 countries from Burundi to Uruguay. The international initiative generated a total of 1.56m donations in all and raised around $168m for charity.
End to deforestation unlikely by 2030
DEFORESTATION GOALS set by some of the world’s largest companies for 2020 and 2030 are unlikely to be met, according to a new review by the Global Canopy Programme. In 2010, the Consumer Goods Forum, which includes 400 retailers, manufacturers and service providers with combined annual sales of over €3.5tr, pledged to achieve zero net deforestation by 2020. The New York Declaration on Forests, meanwhile, which includes 57 among its 190 signatories, commits to end natural deforestation by 2030 (with a 50% reduction by 2020). Of the 500 companies in the Global Canopy Programme’s survey, however, more than half either have weak deforestation policies or no policy whatsoever. Only 11% of the Forest 500 companies have established new deforestation policies or improved existing ones over the last year. Cattle raising is deemed one of the biggest drivers of deforestation, yet worryingly only a quarter of companies with exposure to cattle products (beef and leather) have a policy to address the industry’s environmental impacts. One way of provoking action would be to raise the cost of capital or to withdraw finance to non-compliant companies in the commodities sector. Yet 75% of financial institutions with deforestation policies have made loans over the last 12 months (totaling $64m) to commodity producers, processors or traders that have weak forest policies or none at all. According to a new assessment by the conveners of the New York Declaration on Forests, net deforestation amounted to 6.65 million hectares in 2015.