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Companies pledge to become net zero by 2040

Posted on August 31st, 2021 by in Chemistry

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) just released a special report on the impacts of climate change, and the findings suggest a very concerning picture of the future if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate. The drastic changes in the weather, driving everything from wildfires to drought, are already giving us a preview of an increasingly turbulent future – and the knock-on effects can be seen in resulting crises like the large-scale loss of crops and homes.

The life sciences community must contend with a variety of health issues aggravated by climate change, such as heightened risk of respiratory illnesses and cancers due to emissions. Defrosting pathogens could potentially bring about an increase in infectious diseases, as could the expansion of tropical zones that are already grappling with certain diseases.  

To confront the many challenges presented by climate change, it is clear that, across the globe, the public and private sectors must both make ambitious commitments to climate action and clean energy.

The Paris Climate Agreement is one way that governments have sought to establish international accountability. On the business front, The Climate Pledge is similarly a call-to-action for companies and organizations to work together in taking serious steps to deal with the climate crisis. Signatories of this pledge declare their intention to be net zero carbon across their businesses by 2040.

Specifically, they commit to these three principal areas of action:

1. Regular Reporting – Measure and report greenhouse gas emissions on a regular basis

2. Carbon Elimination – Implement decarbonization strategies in line with the Paris Agreement through real business changes and innovations, including efficiency improvements, renewable energy, materials reductions, and other carbon emission elimination strategies

3. Credible Offsets – Neutralize any remaining emissions with additional, quantifiable, real, permanent, and socially-beneficial offsets to achieve net zero annual carbon emissions by 2040

There are currently 114 signatories to The Climate Pledge, representing numerous industries. Both small and large businesses have signed on, including major names like Amazon, Verizon, Siemens, Uber, Best Buy, Visa, Alaska Airlines, PepsiCo, Philips, IBM, Microsoft and Unilever.

Elsevier and its parent company RELX recently joined them in signing the pledge. “The scientific consensus is clear, climate change is happening and we all have the responsibility to make the future sustainable for our planet,” said Kumsal Bayazit, Elsevier CEO. “At Elsevier we are already net zero for our own direct emissions and by signing the climate pledge I am confident we can rise to the challenge and accelerate the action needed to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2040.”

To make significant, necessary change, much more than pledges and good intentions are required. In addition to the strides Elsevier has already made in addressing climate change, a number of actions to reach the goals of the pledge were outlined at the time of signing. They include:

  • Set a target to reduce carbon emissions resulting from business travel by 50% before 2025
  • Establish a program focused on sizing and reducing indirect emissions from suppliers
  • Form a Climate Advisory Board of research experts to help identify the challenges, explore best practices and initiatives that will accelerate progress in climate change research
  • Leverage Elsevier’s data analytics capabilities to map the net zero pathways in renewable energy
  • Focus on leadership in publishing content on sustainability science and by launching interdisciplinary journals covering climate science (e.g. One Earth, The Lancet Planetary Health)
  • Create an employee-driven resource group to further embed sustainable principles and practices throughout the company

You can read more about Elsevier’s commitment to The Climate Pledge here.

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