The Fight for Climate Optimism
By Suzanne DiBianca, Chief Impact Officer and EVP of Corporate Relations, Salesforce
“This is not a climate negotiation summit. You don’t negotiate with nature. This is a climate action summit,” proclaimed the United Nations Secretary-General in his opening speech at the UN Climate Action Summit.
This sentiment deeply resonated throughout the week as world leaders, CEOs, government officials, business leaders, global investors, and young entrepreneurs gathered in NYC for the United Nations General Assembly and Climate Week NYC 2019 to declare commitments to sustainability and climate action and call for climate optimism. The kind of optimism that turns righteous anger and impatience into action.
If we’re going to beat the worst consequences of a changing climate, we need to move from words to action and take a multi-stakeholder approach— businesses alongside government and nonprofit agencies have to work together.
The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have created a nonpartisan, non-political blueprint that allows all sectors to collaborate with each other in a focused way. At Salesforce, our global strategy is guided in large part by the SDGs and will help us create a positive impact on our communities and the planet.
BUSINESS AS A PLATFORM FOR CHANGE
Now more than ever, it is of vital importance for businesses to become climate advocates. We’re facing down irreparable harm to our planet, so we need all businesses to use not only their influence but also their core competencies and rapid innovation to create solutions that will tackle climate change.
At Salesforce, the environment is a key stakeholder. We are focused on creating a sustainable, low-carbon future as we drive towards our Step Up Declaration commitments, deliver a carbon-neutral cloud for all customers and aim to reach 100 percent renewable energy by 2022 through The Climate Group’s RE100 initiative.
Last month, we launched Salesforce Sustainability Cloud—a new carbon accounting product for businesses to drive climate action that will accelerate the world’s efforts towards carbon neutrality. Our goal is to bring the full power of the Salesforce platform to create technology that drives positive impact, and propels forward the SDGs.
And while the pressure builds on all businesses to become more sustainable -- to adapt their supply chains to address carbon emission goals, manufacture with sustainable products or meet fair labor practices, technology innovations like blockchain and artificial intelligence can help power this work further and faster. Blockchain is a game-changer for transparency and responsibility in the supply chain, and AI can help companies address environmental issues more intelligently and act more quickly.
These technologies, along with all of our involvement, are part of the solution we need.
DRIVING CHANGE TOGETHER
We saw some powerful new ideas come from young entrepreneurs at the first ever UN Youth Climate Summit. Young leaders from around the world stood on stage to deliver remarkable technology innovations, such as offering an alternative to data centers with a new type of organic cloud that emits oxygen rather than CO2, and an app for farmers to prevent crop failures and achieve 3x higher grain production annually. These young people are driving a movement and giving us climate optimism. They are inspiring business leaders around the world to not just speak up and make commitments but to take real action. Action the planet will actually notice.
Nearly 1,000 companies globally have joined We Mean Business, a global nonprofit coalition working with the world’s most influential businesses to take action on climate change, and over 670 companies are taking science-based climate action. Businesses are also acting through The Climate Group’s RE100, EV100 and EP100 initiatives, with members including multinationals across every major sector, representing a combined revenue of US$5.5 trillion.
During Climate Week NYC, 87 major companies aligned to commit to set climate targets across their operations and value chains aligned with limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and reaching net-zero emissions by no later than 2050.
This is just the beginning - we all have more to give, more to do and more to contribute.
CLIMATE ACTION TODAY
When we look back on this year, I am optimistic that we’ll recognize 2019 as the year that public perception of the climate crisis changed. The year we no longer talked about it as an abstraction that would manifest itself in another lifetime. It’s here now.
We must include climate action in every conversation, every business relationship-- and yes even every contract.
We all have a role to play, based on our unique skills, resources and core competencies -- I challenge you; what can you do with what you have in your toolbox to deliver impact that planet Earth might actually notice?
Let’s use today and every day hereafter to push further, faster, together for climate optimism.
The time is now. Join us.
We are thrilled to be this year’s Headline Sponsor at Climate Week NYC. As a pinnacle year in climate activism, we look forward to the future in seeing more companies act and increase climate optimism for all.