As I write this on the winter solstice and we mark the beginning of the return of light, I am reminded of Valarie Kaur’s powerful words in Revolutionary Love, “What if this is not the darkness of the tomb – but the darkness of the womb? What if this is our greatest transition?”
We are indeed in a transition, whether Senator Manchin accepts it or not. Solar energy is exploding in the U.S. generating more than 23 times as much energy as it did just 10 years ago, driven in large part by plummeting prices. The International Energy Agency (IEA) reports that solar electricity is now the cheapest power on Earth. The market is responding. In 2020 and 2021, renewables accounted for 90% of new power capacity expansion globally. Meanwhile, in 2020, U.S. coal production decreased 24.2% year over year. It is predicted that by 2035 every new car sold in the U.S. could be electric. We are living the transition!
We can feel the momentum build in our network. More businesses than ever are stepping up and speaking out in support of bold climate action and implementing innovative new practices in their businesses.
Change is not easy, especially on the scale that is required if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change. Those who have benefited from the existing system will fight to the end. That’s why I am so proud of our community for stepping up over and over in 2021, most recently with hundreds of you signing on to the Ceres business letter to U.S. Senators urging them to support bold climate action at the scale of the crisis.
While we will have dark moments like the momentary setback with the Build Back Better bill, we must also remember that change can happen very fast. Thanks to you and your commitment to addressing the challenge of climate change, I am hopeful that in the year ahead we will take big steps, make huge progress, and bring the transition to life.
Wishing you all a blessed solstice and happy and healthy holidays with your loved ones.
Climate Collaborative Executive Director
We are so excited to bring you the 2021 Tracking Progress Report. This report assesses how companies are progressing on the climate action commitments they have made through the Climate Collaborative. Our hope is that the information shared will help inform the work of the Collaborative and our broader community as we work together to find and activate solutions to the climate crisis.
This year’s report reflects the growing urgency that companies are feeling about the need to take bold climate action. The number of companies involved in the Climate Collaborative year jumped from 463 companies in 2020 to 728! 63% of companies reported that they are actively progressing with their commitments and the remaining 37% of companies are either in active planning stages or have not yet determined how they will implement their commitments. We are seeing the most progress in packaging and renewable energy, and deeper engagement in policy. This is the first year we have asked about net-zero commitments, and we were amazed to see that 25% of respondents have already set a net-zero commitment, and 40% are exploring it.
In the qualitative responses to the survey, it was heartening to hear that the resources the Climate Collaborative provides are helping participants connect to the tools they need and better navigate the challenges they are encountering as they develop innovative climate solutions within their organizations. Respondents asked for even more tools and resources, including webinars and case studies, along with greater opportunities for pre-competitive networking to learn and collaborate with peers. We look forward to developing programs that meet these needs in the coming year!
As we close out 2021, it is clear that the urgency to act has only grown. This is the decisive decade. This year we saw a 20% increased involvement in climate policy action by companies that have made a policy commitment through the Climate Collaborative. If your business has not made a commitment to engage in climate policy, we encourage you to take that step right now. I invite you to:
- Up your policy game today! Please consider making a policy commitment within the Climate Collaborative
- Join hundreds of your fellow businesses by signing on to the letter to lawmakers urging them to support bold action on climate. With historic climate legislation being considered in Washington, the voice of every business matters.
Lastly, during this holiday season, please consider including the Climate Collaborative in your end-of-year giving plans. The Climate Collaborative’s deep commitment to removing all barriers to climate action, including paywalls and membership fees, is critically important because we need everyone mobilizing to help shift our current climate trajectory. However, to do this we need your support. With just two full-time staff, we work hard to ensure your donation drives real action with measurable impacts.
Many thanks for your continued support of the Climate Collaborative!
Climate Collaborative Executive Director
As I write this, 20,000 leaders and concerned citizens from around the world are gathering in Glasgow, Scotland for COP26, the UN climate change conference. For 12 days their task is to accelerate a shared global climate agenda, and their work has never been more important. The scientific community has issued a Code Red for Humanity, and now it is up to our global leaders to speak up and act.
It was during COP21, the now historic event that gave rise to the Paris Climate Accord, that the idea for the Climate Collaborative was born. Our founders felt that there was an opportunity for the natural products industry to be part of the international community in tackling the climate crisis. They saw that the natural products sector (now a $180 billion industry) had the potential to be on the leading edge of driving business and consumer action. Their vision was to engage this industry in meaningful climate action through collaboration, education, and by making critical tools and resources freely available to all. Since that time, more than 700 companies have made commitments to reduce their climate impacts, and while our reach has expanded beyond the natural products industry, our commitment to identifying and activating pathways for our network of businesses to accelerate climate action has not waivered.
The work ahead is focused on deepening our efforts while also collectively engaging in critical policy efforts that ensure our work reaches the scale necessary to shift our current catastrophic climate trajectory. For those of you participating in our Call4ClimateNow campaign, you know that over the past weeks the U.S. Congress has been debating the most important climate legislation ever, which could put us on track to reduce emissions in half by 2030. This decision could be made any minute. And for many of us, it has been heartbreaking to watch the fossil fuel special interests of one senator wreak havoc on this absolutely critical legislation. The American people want action and the Climate Collaborative will continue to do our part to remove barriers to climate action to accelerate a powerful climate agenda.
The bottom line is that we all must up our climate game. We must fight harder for our leaders to lead. (If you haven’t already made a commitment to climate policy, you can do so here.) We must take more steps within our businesses and in our supply chains. No matter where we are in the process, we can all do more, and we must.
In this historic moment on the eve of the COP, we are reaching out to our network of small and medium sized businesses (SMEs), those with fewer than five hundred employees, to ask YOU to consider joining the growing movement to commit to net zero emissions by 2050. You can find more information about how to do this below. While most of us can’t be in Glasgow, that doesn’t mean that we can’t take part in the efforts there. You will also find links below to a wide variety of sessions so that you can participate in the COP virtually.
At the Climate Collaborative, our job is to help you bring your commitments to climate to life. We are in active dialogue with our community over the next several months to understand your barriers to action and how we can help. I would love to hear your thoughts! Email me at [email protected] and let me know the challenges you are facing and how we might help.
Climate Collaborative Executive Director
As I write this letter, Hurricane Ida is pummeling Louisiana and Mississippi. Fires are raging across the western U.S., and around the world. Flooding earlier this summer killed hundreds and wreaked havoc in Germany, Brussels, and China. And drought is devastating farms across the west. All of these events are fueled by climate change which makes droughts and extreme precipitation events more common, hurricanes more powerful, wildfires hotter, and the fire season longer. Of course, so many of you are LIVING these events. Our hearts go out to you.
With the recent release of the groundbreaking report from the UN IPCC, there is no longer any doubt of the threat posed by our changing climate. But the good news in the report is that we still have a small window of opportunity to lessen or even stop the threat. There are solutions to prevent the worst impacts, but our window is closing which is why we must act now. As Laurence Tubiana, an architect of the Paris Agreement said, “Scientists did their job, it is time for leaders to do theirs”.
Over the next month, the U.S. Congress will debate the most important climate legislation in a generation. This could be the only bite at the apple that our leaders take for many years.
If you have ever considered using your powerful voice as a business, now is the moment.
Our community is responding in the way we know best---collaboratively. We have partnered with Fossil Fuel Media to create the #Call4ClimateNOW campaign. More than one hundred of your peers have joined the campaign to reach out to their stakeholders, including their employees and the people who buy their products and services, to call on our lawmakers in D.C. to urge them to take bold climate action NOW! B Lab, 1% for the Planet, ASBC, and Ceres have partnered with us and are engaging businesses in the campaign.
Join Clif Bar, Aveda, PCC Markets, Grove Collaborative, Ben & Jerry’s, Legacy Vacation Resorts, and many more businesses from across the U.S. in the #Call4ClimateNOW campaign launching on September 8th.
Find information on the campaign, access the toolkit, and sign-on here.
Next month, our new Executive Director, Courtney Pineau, will be at the helm full-time and we will usher in a new era at the Collaborative. Courtney is eager to meet you all! If you are planning to attend Natural Products Expo East and would like to meet Courtney, let us know at [email protected], and be sure to check out our programming in Philadelphia too.
In the meantime, join us by bringing your company’s voice to the choir calling for bold climate action!
For a brighter future for all,
At the Climate Collaborative, we've been celebrating the announcement of our new Executive Director, Courtney Pineau, this past week. Courtney joins the CC from Green America’s Center for Sustainable Solutions where she led their Climate and Agriculture Networks. She has worked extensively with businesses in the food and agriculture sector and stakeholders throughout the entire supply chain for more than fifteen years. Courtney’s experience creating collaborative networks will help take the CC to the next level providing support to businesses in our transition to a clean, green, and just economy.
Courntey will be stepping in to support two exciting specially funded initiatives along with our other programming that is free through the generosity of 80 companies, individuals, and foundations. Thank you to all our donors!
The next two years are critical if we are to have any hope of staying below the 1.5o C increase in global temperature that scientists say we must in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. The Collaborative is poised to assist your business and our industry to contribute to drawing down greenhouse gas emissions. However, if you haven’t donated, we need your support. Join our donors by contributing in whatever amount you can with our pledge form here!
We're excited to profile our donors and officially introduce Courtney to the community at Expo East, where we'll have two 45 minute sessions on Friday, September 24th. We're still finalizing our programming, but hope to see many of you there!
By now you have probably seen the headlines from the leaked upcoming IPCC report: “Crushing climate impacts to hit sooner than feared”. It might sound like something out of a Hollywood sci fi film, but as those who are living today with the record-setting heat waves, drought and fires in the West and the flooding in the South know all too well, it is anything but futuristic fiction.
The leaked draft makes clear that “climate change is happening now, is accelerating and posing unprecedented threats to human and natural systems — and that taking fast action can still avoid the worst economic and ecological impacts.”
Numerous studies have shown that voluntary corporate action alone is not enough to reduce emissions at the pace and scale necessary to prevent catastrophic climate change. The task before us is far larger than the incremental work of a few investors and companies, or even the entire natural products industry. A systemic change requires a systemic solution and that means both private AND public commitment. It requires government leadership. We have the technologies and the solutions. We are not scaling them up fast enough. Solving the climate crisis is no longer a technical problem. It is a political one and it needs a political solution.
If you have EVER thought about stepping up to advocate for climate action, NOW IS THE MOMENT.
The most important climate legislation in a generation is going to be decided between now and late fall. It is clear that there is an enormous need for more pressure to be applied to Congress with the message “We have no time to wait. We need you to lead now.” This is our political moment. We don’t know when we will have it again.
Over the past year, working with our partners like ASBC, Ceres and America Is All In, the Climate Collaborative has greatly scaled up opportunities for you to engage your lawmakers— and wow have you risen to the challenge. We are asking you once again to step-up to use your powerful voice as a business leader. Please join your peers from the business community as well as leaders from cities, states, tribal nations, and the institutions of higher ed, healthcare, faith and culture from across the country at what we hope will be the largest virtual climate Hill Day ever.
We have partnered with our friends at America Is All In and Ceres to make this as simple and painless as possible for you. It is free and absolutely no previous experience is necessary. You simply “zoom-in” when it is convenient for you and if you choose, share your story of why climate action is important to your business. The key is to be counted as a business leader that is concerned about climate change!
REGISTER HERE and attend all or part of it.
- Monday, July 12th 1-5 pm ET/ 10 am - 2 pm PT Advocacy Training and Briefings
- Tuesday, July 13th and July 14th Virtual meetings with Congressional and Administration offices will be held via Zoom throughout the day.
Whether you are a seasoned pro at speaking to your elected officials or this is a completely new experience, we hope you will consider joining us!
What Makes Congress Listen?
The business community is a powerful influencer in Washington, and the voices of small and medium sized businesses are particularly important. Research confirms that the most powerful influence on members of Congress are personal (and virtual) visits from their constituents, telling their individual stories, and providing information on the impact of legislation on their district. Your members of Congress need to hear from you— what climate disruption means to you and your business, what you are doing about it, and what you want them to do about it.
 Source: Congressional Management Foundation
Earlier this week we gathered for our virtual climate programming at Natural Products Expo West. Traditionally, Climate Day at Expo West is our favorite time of the year. We love getting together with the wider community for panels, keynotes, and celebrating the work that you and your peers are doing to create a green, clean, and just world. While this year looked a bit different, I'm still feeling energized, inspired, and more committed than ever about the potential for our community to come together to collectively act on climate and scale our impact.
Below you can read about 2 NEW initiatives that were announced: the Climate Campaign and UNFI Climate Action Hub. These initiatives have the potential to create transformative change; one to mobilize Americans to call on our elected officials to lead on climate, and the other to scale carbon emissions reductions throughout the natural products industry.
We're so excited to go on this journey with you all!
Be sure not to miss the groundbreaking IEA report that came out last week! We may look back at this report as one of the most important milestones and turning points for the climate movement. The historically conservative IEAs report made clear that we must stop investment in all new oil, gas, and coal immediately. It sent a shockwave through the energy and finance world.
It sure feels like humanity may indeed act in our own self-interest to prevent the worst impacts of climate change in what the United Nations has called this "decisive decade". It's not a moment too soon.
Last week was truly momentous on the U.S. climate action front, with the U.S. pledging to slash its emissions by half by 2030--twice the amount pledged as part of the initial U.S. Paris climate goal. We may look back at this moment and realize that this was the turning point when our nation committed to a path to solving the climate crisis.
This community helped make it happen! Your advocacy helped keep climate a top priority for the administration, and ensured climate provisions made it into the December stimulus bill. The America Is All In statement last December started a drumbeat of business demand for a stronger U.S. response to climate change, and last week's business letter, signed by 100+ CC companies, made front-page news in its urgent call for U.S. leadership on climate. It may feel that signing a letter doesn't make a difference, but I hope you can see with these examples just how important that simple act is.
Now let's get to work.
I hope you've signed up for the climate programming at Expo West where we will focus on three of our biggest levers -- justice, our supply chains, and engaging our stakeholders.
The big announcement this month is that the CC is seeking a new Executive Director, and we want your help finding the best candidate out there! You can find the job ad here. Please share it on your LinkedIn and through your personal networks. We know this community has fabulous relationships with leaders who could usher our work into its next phase, so we thank you in advance for helping us in this search! I'll be stepping back in late April to take on a new role with the Rocky Mountain Institute as their Corporate Engagement Director, and I will truly miss working with every one of you!
However, this won’t be slowing down our programming or work around that transition, starting with a fabulous virtual climate programming session at Expo West--RSVP here if you haven't already! You can also expect to continue hearing from us about new resources, webinars, and advocacy opportunities. Our fantastic team of Caitlin Oleson, Programs and Operations Manager, CC intern Mackenzie Marcotte, CC Co-founder and Advisor Nancy Hirshberg, and our fantastic board, will be carrying our work forward until our new leadership steps in.
I can't wait to see what's next in our work--you have all given me so much hope in our collective ability to transform how the food system tackles climate change. Thank you for being part of this community!
Have a great weekend, and take care,
This month brought more positive news on the climate front, with the U.S. formally rejoining the Paris Climate Accords. More than 700 companies in the CC partner network signed on to support this back in December through the America is All in Statement, and I hope every one of you stops to celebrate this win!
We also saw these past few days, with the horrific storm in Texas, how unprepared our nation's power infrastructure is for climate change. There will be upcoming infrastructure-related advocacy opportunities; if you want to stay in the loop, be sure to sign up for our new policy newsletter below.
Lastly, if you missed them, I highly recommend catching up on two must-watch webinars we held this month: Our climate justice webinar featured an exclusive deep dive into the new B Lab Climate Justice Playbook, and yesterday's food waste training served as a masterclass for the new ReFED Insights Engine, a new tool that can help every company in our community better define their food waste strategy. Be sure to give us your feedback on both; we'll be covering these topics throughout the year to come.
Have a great weekend, and take care,