The next iteration of the internet is fast taking shape but making it a reality will require vast amounts of energy. Ensuring the future digital landscape doesn’t become an environmental nightmare means opting for renewables, accelerating the energy transition, and locking in a lower-emissions framework.

Run on networks that use consensus mechanisms such as blockchain, Web3 is a new decentralized version of the internet, which aims to give individuals more control over their data and experiences.  Meanwhile, the metaverse is a yet-to-be-realized digital and immersive world that enables users to interact digitally, be that using crypto-wallets to make purchases or virtual reality headsets to explore experiences. 

While both are digital, virtual spaces, they’re very much tethered to the physical world – thanks to the energy needed to power them. 

Despite all of its futuristic promise, the basic building blocks of the new digital landscape are computers and servers, and a recent blog post from Intel suggests that our global computing infrastructure will need to be 1,000 times more powerful than it is today in order to comfortably sustain it. This comes at a heavy environmental cost. 

In a study carried out in 2019, University of Massachusetts researchers calculated that training one large deep-learning model – for example, one that allows machines to work with natural language in a virtual environment – produces 626,000 lbs of planet-warming carbon dioxide or five times the lifetime emissions of an average car. 

At the University of Lancaster, researchers ran a scenario to find out what would happen if just 30% of computer gamers moved to virtual cloud-based platforms by 2030, and found that carbon emissions would jump by almost a third.

Meanwhile, cryptocurrencies, which will underpin transactions in the new online world, have become notorious for their energy intensiveness, with the University of Cambridge finding that crypto mining can consume as much as 121.36 terawatt-hours a year, or more than the annual energy consumption of Argentina or the United Arab Emirates, while the New York Times calculates that bitcoin consumes roughly 0.5% of all energy worldwide.

In today’s energy mix, where the majority of electricity worldwide still comes from non-renewable sources, the huge increase in power use brought about by Web3 spells disaster for the planet.

Around the world, irreversible climate change is already underway, from hotter temperatures to more severe storms and droughts. According to the 2022 IPCC report, released earlier this year, humanity has a “narrowing window for action”, and if we are to secure a livable future, deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions need to happen now.

The green way forward 

However, before immediately writing off the metaverse and Web3 as an environmental disaster waiting to happen, it’s worth noting what Big Tech is doing to reconcile its own sustainability goals with the creation of a fully immersive digital landscape. Amazon Web Services (AWS), which provides cloud computing solutions for nearly a third of all web applications today, says it will power its operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025. Google has pledged to use 24/7 carbon-free energy in all its datacenters by 2030. Microsoft intends to be carbon negative by 2030, as well as halting the use of diesel in its datacenter generators. Meanwhile, Meta – which changed its name from Facebook to demonstrate just how much it believes in the metaverse – says that by 2030, it will reach net-zero emissions across its own operations and its value chain. 

What’s more, clean energy is increasingly being used to power cryptocurrency activities, with a report from the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance finding that nearly 40% of proof-of-work mining is powered by renewables. This is thanks in part to the fact that renewable energy is now cheaper than fossil fuels in most markets around the world, while fossil fuels are only set to become more expensive over time. Another positive sign can be found in the Crypto Climate Accord, inspired by the Paris Agreement. The industry-driven pact’s signatories have vowed to switch to renewable energy sources by 2025 and go completely net-zero, eliminating greenhouse gas emissions altogether, by 2040.

This proliferation of commitments is already outpacing our world’s transition to renewable energy, driving up demand for a greater percentage of the grid to come from clean resources. 

To meet this demand, a decentralized digital world needs decentralized energy sources. Crypto farms will need to be co-located with renewable generation and mining when there is an abundance of energy. Data centers are already entering into direct corporate power purchase agreements (PPAs) with renewable energy suppliers, enabling them to increase their actual use of clean power faster than if they relied upon the grid alone. Digital mining activities have locational flexibility, as has been shown by redeployment of its activity in response to regulatory changes, this means that digital mining activities can pursue the best geographies in terms of abundant and competitive renewable energy.  

Paving the way for a sustainable future

Ensuring that the metaverse and Web3 are powered by clean energy enables the truly transformative power of the new online world to take effect. Forward-thinking individuals who care about the future of the planet are already designing radical new ways for people and companies to be more sustainable via the new tech – from digital carbon credit coins to allow anyone to access carbon trading markets to non-fungible tokens that fund the planting of enough mangroves to sequester 20 million tons of carbon over the next 25 years.

While it’s true that – as things stand today – wide-scale adoption of the metaverse and Web3 would drive emissions up to dangerous levels, all indicators point to the companies involved choosing to combat these environmental challenges. The only viable option to power the future online world is renewables, and this huge surge in demand will drive enormous adoption of clean power, accelerating the energy transition for a better, more sustainable future.

In partnership with Castleberry Media, we are committed to taking care of our planet, therefore, this content is responsible with the environment.

In the wake of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), held in November, countries have come forward with ambitious 2030 emissions reduction targets that align with reaching net zero by the middle of the century.

To deliver on these commitments, large corporate energy users will play a key role. Today, a growing movement toward net-zero industrial hubs provides a unique opportunity for corporations around the world to align themselves with the Paris Agreement goals – as well as increase the adoption of renewable energy.

From the aerospace cluster in Queretaro, Mexico to the automotive cluster in Detroit, Michigan, companies have been co-locating in dynamic ecosystems for decades. Sharing resources, problems, and solutions, industrial parks act as economic growth engines while boosting opportunities for increased efficiencies.

Now, as the fight against climate change becomes more urgent, these co-located industrial parks can be leveraged in a new way: to cut emissions down to zero.

How do net-zero industrial clusters work?

The energy and industrial sectors are responsible for as much as two-thirds of the world’s CO2 (around 22 gigatons per annum), according to a new report by Accenture in collaboration with the World Economic Forum.

If companies located within clusters can work together to make the most of new clean technologies and processes, and at the same time maintain or increase productivity, increase the green credentials of their products, and enhance the environment, they can become part of the solution – instead of part of the problem.

What this looks like in practice varies dramatically, depending on the region and type of industry.

At their heart, though, net-zero industrial clusters are a set of facilities, plants, and linked infrastructure dedicated to the reduction and elimination of greenhouse gases through the application of clean energy and emissions control technology.

Through on-site renewables generation, shared dispatchable zero-carbon sources, storage, and microgrids, industrial clusters can tap into the opportunities presented by clean energy to not only reduce emissions but also enable companies located at the sites to meet their own internal sustainability targets. And because of the cluster set-up, if energy demand cannot feasibly be supplied by on-site renewables, companies can pool demand for renewable power purchase agreements (PPAs) instead.

Net-zero industrial clusters today

Net-zero industrial clusters are still a relatively new concept, but one which is gaining ground as cities and nations seek to reach net-zero carbon by 2050 or sooner, at the lowest possible cost to their citizens and businesses.

One such example is the Suzhou Industrial Park. Situated in Jiangsu, China, it is one of the largest and most modern industrial parks in the world. Spread over an area of 288 km2 and home to over 4,000 businesses, the industrial park offers a range of cost-effective, low carbon, and net-zero energy and infrastructure solutions that allow companies located there to track and improve their energy efficiency and emissions in line with their own sustainability goals.

Meanwhile, in the UK, where the government has made a commitment to deliver four low-carbon clusters by 2030 and at least one fully net-zero cluster by 2040, there are numerous promising examples.

One is the Humber industrial cluster, in Yorkshire. Home to industries such as refining, petrochemicals, and manufacturing, this is the country’s most carbon-intensive industrial cluster in the country, emitting 12.4 million tons a year. The plan is to create a shared carbon capture and storage infrastructure alongside the world’s first negative emissions power station, which will enable industries in the region to produce low carbon chemicals. There is also the potential to incorporate green hydrogen production, making use of increasing supplies of renewable energy from offshore wind in the Humber region.

As these projects begin to mature, interest is growing in the US and Latin America, too, with a recent study by the Center for Global Energy Policy at Columbia University identifying opportunities for net-zero hubs in Houston.

Putting it into practice

While net-zero industrial clusters are a great idea in theory, in practice they’re less simple to implement. Most businesses, cities, and states don’t have the ability to start a net-zero transformation from a clean slate, and retrofitting legacy systems for energy efficiency and net-zero carbon involves significant costs. What’s more, not all large carbon emitters are located in clusters, so creating net-zero industrial parks only goes part of the way toward solving the issues.

However, we believe that the net-zero industrial cluster movement presents an exciting opportunity to facilitate and promote the adoption of renewable energy, as companies work hard to meet their climate goals. And for those companies that don’t yet have the opportunity to join a cluster, alternatives are already available.

One of the most effective alternatives for companies seeking to meet emissions reduction objectives is Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). Around the world, approximately 70% of companies with net-zero targets already utilize RECs as part of their renewable electricity procurement strategies. The use of RECs enables a company to state that it uses renewable electricity from a low or zero-emissions source, and because they provide flexibility in sourcing green power from anywhere in a given country, even companies located in regions without abundant renewable energy resources can benefit.

Another option is through PPAs, which allow corporate consumers to purchase a certain amount of renewable energy from a specific asset under a predetermined pricing arrangement. Approximately 45% of companies with net-zero targets sign these agreements as part of their renewable electricity procurement strategies, and their use is growing as more and more companies seek to tap into the benefits of renewable electricity to achieve their sustainability goals.

However, RECs and PPAs alone will not get companies to carbon neutrality. Daily operations like water use, packaging production, and the use of non-electric equipment all have a carbon footprint, which is why net-zero industrial clusters are so compelling: through shared infrastructure and carbon capture technology, they enable new business models that can contribute to preventing the worst effects of man-made climate change.

For the time being, however, until net-zero industrial clusters become a widespread global reality, the next best thing for large emitters is to take a serious look at their energy use strategies and consider implementing PPAs, RECs, and other tools to set their course for the path to net-zero.

In partnership with Castleberry Media, we are committed to taking care of our planet, therefore, this content is responsible with the environment.

Among the world’s biggest tech companies, clean energy deals and climate goals have become a source of rivalry. Today, five of the top 10 technology firms worldwide by market capitalization are powered by 100% renewable electricity. However, a gap is emerging between laggards and leaders, with some of the biggest electricity consumers having the lowest share of renewable energy usage.

Digital and data solutions have an unprecedented opportunity to make a major and essential contribution to the global climate effort. Launched at the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP26, the Tech for our Planet challenge program highlighted how innovations, from artificial intelligence to blockchain and big data, can help the world meet net-zero targets.

Indeed, according to a recent report from the International Telecommunications Union, digital technology could help reduce the world’s carbon emissions by about 17%.

But with power-hungry data centers and supply chains that span the planet, unless every tech company around the world is powered by clean energy, the industry will never be able to create climate action at scale.

Choosing a sustainable future

After coming under increasing scrutiny over the last few years over their environmental impact, leading tech giants have taken huge steps towards reducing their carbon footprint, with actions such as waste reduction, hardware recycling, and responsible supply chain sourcing. However, by far and away the most impactful aspect of these companies’ sustainability strategies is the transition to renewable energy.

Among the big hitters, Google has pledged to power its operations entirely with carbon-free energy by 2030, and since 2017 it has matched 100% of its global electricity use with purchases of renewable energy. Meanwhile, Microsoft recently announced that by 2030 it will have 100% of its electricity consumption matched by zero carbon energy purchases. It’s a similar story at Facebook, which achieved its goal of sourcing 100% renewable energy to support its global operations in 2020.

These tech companies have been able to achieve these aims by leveraging their enormous investment capacity.

In 2019, Google signed the biggest corporate purchase of renewable energy in history, with a 1,600-megawatt (MW) package of agreements that included 18 new energy deals. Today, its worldwide energy portfolio produces more electricity than places like Washington D.C. or entire countries like Lithuania or Uruguay use each year. Facebook is also one of the largest corporate buyers of renewable energy, with current contracts in place for more than 6.1 gigawatts (GW) of wind and solar energy across 18 states and five countries. And over the last 12 months, Microsoft has signed new purchase agreements for approximately 5.8GW of renewable energy across 10 countries around the globe. 

But even for companies with slightly less financial firepower, going fully renewable is not only possible but in many cases can represent a cost saving. Thanks to technological advancements that have pushed the efficiency of solar installations close to their theoretical maximum – such as bifacial panels, which catch rays from both sides, and electronics that enable solar panels to track the sun as it moves through the daytime sky – harnessing the sun is increasingly cost-effective.

By 2030, the take-up of cloud computing is forecast to increase exponentially, from US$1.3bn in 2019 to US$12.5bn, according to BloombergNEF. Ultimately, renewable energy is now cheaper than fossil fuels in many markets, and because electricity is the main outlay for tech firms, by using solar or wind power, they can keep costs down even as demand for their services – such as data centers – soars.

Room for improvement

Estimates of the tech sector’s contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions vary, from 1.4% to 2.3%. Unlike sectors such as aviation or shipping, much of its carbon footprint depends on electricity consumption – rather than the burning of fossil fuels – which makes it relatively simple to decarbonize. And taking advantage of this low-hanging fruit will have a sizeable impact: according to research by Ericsson, if the tech sector were to make the switch to renewable energy sources, it could slash its overall emissions by as much as 80%.

While Big Tech is well on its way to 100% renewable energy, some of the sector’s largest energy users still rely on conventional power for the majority of their electricity needs. And as scientists warn that global emissions must be cut by half by 2030 in order to avert the worst impacts of climate change, this has to change – and fast.

One issue is that variable generation of renewable power does not always align with the timing of the buyer’s electricity consumption – which means that they have to fall back on carbon-emitting alternatives such as coal or gas-fired electricity generation.

Solving for this means thinking out of the box, and Big Tech is increasingly doing this. A recent flurry of commitments from companies to match their electricity demand, hour by hour, with carbon-free electricity sources, is a huge positive move in the right direction.

While this is a recent development, Atlas believes that this is the beginning of the next step towards achieving the renewable energy transition, and one that Atlas is keen to facilitate. Through advanced structuring capabilities developed over the past year, Atlas is now able to provide load profile solutions for energy consumers. This is achieved through the appropriate design of a portfolio of renewable energy projects in which Atlas can deliver the expected hourly demand in the hubs where the load requirements are located.

As shareholders and investors set decarbonization targets, and consumers clamor for change, demonstrating leadership in clean energy has become central to corporate strategy across the tech sector – and the renewable energy sector is rising to meet the challenge.

With new financing options and business models that lower the barriers to entry, signing up to 100% clean energy is no longer restricted to the top tier tech behemoths. Thanks to corporate power purchase agreements (PPA), long-term contracts under which a business agrees to purchase electricity directly from an energy generator, the opportunity is now available for all players, across the technology sector, to take a vital step towards a net-zero future.

How Atlas can help

Without a shift to renewable energy, there is no sustainable way for businesses within the tech industry to continue with their electricity-heavy operations. Tackling climate change and reducing carbon emissions is one of the most important issues of our time, and companies in the sector must act now.

Atlas Renewable Energy was conceived with sustainability at its core. It develops, builds, finances, and operates clean energy projects across the Americas that enable companies to power their operations sustainably.

With a range of services, from renewable power purchase agreements (PPAs) to renewable energy certificates (RECs), Atlas helps large energy consumers across industries make the shift to green energy and manage their transition to net-zero emissions.

To find out more about Atlas Renewable Energy’s approach and how it can help your company meet its sustainability goals, email us: contacto@atlasren.com 

In partnership with Castleberry Media, we are committed to taking care of our planet, therefore, this content is responsible with the environment.

The global population is expected to increase by nearly a third, or by 2 billion people, by 2050. With the food production chain among the greatest contributors to global warming, feeding the world without overwhelming the planet has become an urgent imperative. Today, as an increasing number of companies and countries take up the climate change challenge, and consumers begin to demand sustainable products, the food industry is changing – fast. 

Many brands are putting in the work on health and wellbeing, creating healthier products with the sustainable sourcing of raw materials. Meanwhile, a focus on human and labor rights in the supply chain has seen companies join initiatives such as Fairtrade to ensure that those working to produce the food we eat do so in safe conditions and are paid a fair wage. Cutting water usage and reducing waste impact has also become a major priority, with many companies bringing products on the market with recyclable packaging. 

But without tackling the big energy usage and emissions elephant in the room, none of these efforts will have a meaningful impact on the future of our planet.  

From the production of crops, forestry, meat and fish products to food storage and processing, transport and distribution and food preparation, the agri-food value chain today consumes 30% of the world’s available energy and accounts for as much as a fifth of all global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. As the population grows and food requirements go up, a solution must be found that reduces the use of fossil fuels while still reaching food productivity targets.

Fortunately, leading companies in the sector, from retailers to agro-food processors, are taking steps to make this happen, by making the shift towards more sustainable, renewable energy sources.

From retailer Walmart’s commitment to source 100% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2035, to the work of global confectionery producer Mars, which has already converted several of its operations to 100% renewable energy, and fruit and vegetable producer Dole’s pledge to achieve zero fossil-based plastic packaging by 2025 and net zero carbon emissions in all of its operations by 2030, companies across the food value chain are taking their responsibilities seriously.

But it is not just the large household names that can make a difference. In recent years, consumers around the world are increasingly aware of the environmental impact of the brands they buy from, and this includes food and beverage companies. According to the Harvard Business Review “products that had a sustainability claim on-pack accounted for 16.6% of the market in 2018, up from 14.3% in 2013, and delivered nearly US$114bn in sales. Most importantly, products marketed as sustainable grew 5.6 times faster than those that were not.” The study adds that consumers are now “actively buying more environmentally friendly products,” and some are even willing to pay a premium for food and beverage products that follow sustainable business practices. What’s more, the environmental practices of the food industry are under constant watch from governments and NGOs, due to their potential impact.

Tackling their carbon footprint, alongside other SDG-linked objectives, is vital for companies of all sizes that want to keep market share and contribute to a sustainable future.

The renewable energy opportunity 

In recent years, solar power purchase agreements (PPA) in the commercial and industrial sectors have made an enormous contribution to the growth of renewable energy. Last year, corporations purchased a record 23.7GW of clean power through long-term agreements, despite the devastation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and a global recession.

For companies in the food sector, solar PPAs are especially useful, since the energy demand from process heating and cooling, pumping and facility ventilation, and lighting is higher during daylight hours – even in facilities that operate 24/7.

While other renewable energy sources have also been used by the sector – such as the conversion of biomass into energy – they are not free of emissions. Processing organic waste into biofuel is not only an expensive and complex process, but it also produces greenhouse gases from combustion, so while biomass power might be a renewable source, it doesn’t tackle the emissions problem.

By signing a corporate solar PPA, a food company can reduce energy expenses and greenhouse gas emissions simultaneously, without affecting monthly cash flow. 

Of course, companies within the sector can also purchase their own solar power systems, but this requires capital that could be used to invest into expanding production capacity, innovating new products, or entering new markets. With a solar PPA, food companies can use the capital saved to improve sustainability elsewhere within their business, from boosting energy efficiency to upgrading equipment.

With a corporate PPA, companies can also access another type of savings that are not evident upfront. When food production companies obtain their power from the grid, they are subject to tariff increases from energy companies – and with wholesale energy prices reaching multi-year highs in several markets, many are feeling the pinch. A PPA clearly establishes the price of the electricity for the duration of the contract, locking in certainty at a time when companies are facing extreme market volatility.

Solar PPAs not only offer a reduction of energy expenses; they provide an opportunity for food companies to become more environmentally responsible as they step up to the challenge of feeding an extra 2 billion people in the coming years. 

How Atlas can help

Without a shift to renewable energy, there is no sustainable way for businesses within the food production sector to keep up with increased demand. Feeding the world without destroying the planet in the process is one of the most important issues of our time, and companies in the sector must act now – both in making their internal operations more sustainable as well as demanding that the suppliers they buy from do so too

Atlas Renewable Energy was conceived with sustainability at its core. It develops, builds, finances, and operates clean energy projects across the Americas that enable companies to power their operations sustainably.

With robust experience handling long-term renewable power purchase agreements (PPAs) to renewable energy certificates (RECs), Atlas helps large energy consumers across industries make the shift to green energy and manage their transition to net-zero emissions. 

To find out more about Atlas Renewable Energy’s approach and how it can help your company meet its sustainability goals, contact us at contacto@atlasren.com.

In partnership with Castleberry Media, we are committed to taking care of our planet, therefore, this content is responsible with the environment.*

Traditionally, businesses have focused on a single bottom line: profit. However, John Elkington, a world authority on corporate responsibility and sustainable capitalism, has a different take: the triple bottom line (3BL).

This concept measures growth according to a company’s social, environmental, and economic impact. And if there’s one industry that’s in perfect alignment with the triple bottom line, it’s renewable energy. Why? Because renewable energy, especially when it’s implemented alongside sustainable values, supports local communities – the “people” aspect of the 3BL concept, avoids the consumption of finite resources – the “planet” aspect, and represents a reliable investment and a means of lowering energy costs – the “profit” aspect.

Making the switch

According to the 3BL approach, profits still do matter – just not at the expense of environmental and social needs and concerns. Still, businesses are more open to making the switch to sustainable practices if they can be sure that their profits won’t suffer in the process.

One of the biggest concerns regarding renewable energy is the idea that it’s an expensive alternative to fossil fuels – and for large energy users for whom electricity accounts for a huge proportion of their fixed costs, this creates an enormous huge barrier to making the switch. However, this is no longer the case: renewable energy has become more competitive and available in recent years, to the extent that, in many markets, it’s actually more affordable to power your operations with solar energy than it is to use conventional power sources.

With long-term corporate power purchase agreements (PPAs) providing the ability to lock in lower rates for longer, investing in green energy makes commercial sense in terms of significantly reducing costs as well as improving energy efficiency.

Circling back: energy’s role in circular economies

An understanding of circular economies is crucial for implementing a 3BL approach. The reason being that circular economies are the antithesis to a linear economic model, in which the lifespan of materials is limited to a single-use purpose. This means that energy use will always be at the forefront of sustainability, as these systems of reuse and recycle require great power resources to function.

Thus, manufacturing industries, for example, should be interested in adopting renewable energy methods as a way to reduce their carbon footprint, and in order to position themselves as favorable options within the circular economic models of the future.

Tying it all together

The environmental aspect of renewable energy is more obvious. At the most basic level, companies that run their operations on renewables are reducing greenhouse gas emissions from their activities, but it goes further than that: they’re also contributing to United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 12 – Ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns. Beyond that, though, they’re also demonstrating additionality: every purchase of clean energy from Atlas enables the development of more renewables projects, tipping the balance ever further towards the energy transition.

It’s perhaps easier to see how economic benefits relate to environmental efforts, if these are approached pragmatically and innovatively. Does this mean that the social bottom line is the most difficult one for companies to implement? What exactly is the return of investment when we talk about pension schemes, gender equality, and cultural diversity in the workforce?

At Atlas, we recognize that the social bottom line is the most fundamental long-term effect. It may be harder to quantify, but the social bottom line is at the heart of all returns of investment: by educating communities on sustainable practices, we guarantee that there is trans-generational adaptation to new ways of working and living. From within Atlas, by offering competitive salaries and applying forward thinking practices, we make sure to attract and retain a strong workforce, composed of bright minds who will continue to push us forward. Finally, by truly committing to and building from people-and-planet-centered core values, we guarantee a level of reputation and credibility that ensures us a leading position in the market.

According to research by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the expected increase in human welfare from the deployment of renewables is close to 4%, from health improvements as a result of decreased emissions, to job creation and greater social inclusiveness. As a result, by transitioning to renewable energy, corporations can amplify their positive social impact beyond the confines of their own internal operations.

The value of reputation: transparency and metrics

In the past two years, pandemic-influenced instabilities have called on companies to offer greater support to their employees (through benefits such as paid sick leave) or run the risk of losing credibility with both communities and stakeholders.

Furthermore, both countries and companies are facing ever-growing pressure to publicly commit to climate change mitigation and reduction by acknowledging and making steps to meet the goals outlined during last year’s COP26 summit.

The growing presence of these conversations on the level of global politics means that companies face potential regulatory risks and the prospect of carbon taxes unless they adopt ESG (environmental, social and governance) principles of operations. We’ve previously shared information on the numerous frameworks that companies can use in order to get started, such as the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) Performance Standards.

Although these frameworks serve as solid guidelines, John Elkington argues that the key challenge to the triple bottom line is precisely the difficulty of measuring social and environmental changes. How do we quantify growth, beyond financial parameters? And how do we make sure that all three bottom lines are being developed equally?

Atlas believes that transparency is one way to address these questions and hold ourselves accountable, which in turn reinforces our position as a business that’s geared towards being a force for good. In the age of social media, consumers will swiftly verify that companies are incorporating their values in every level of service and production, actually walking the talk, and not simply greenwashing their way out of further scrutiny. Let’s not forget that the way in which a company is perceived by the public is one of the first points of focus for shareholders.

(For an in-depth view into Atlas’s practices, please see our 2017-2020 sustainability report.)

More than just a viable option for green power, Atlas is committed to the triple bottom line, every step of the way.

In partnership with Castleberry Media, we are committed to taking care of our planet, therefore, this content is responsible with the environment.

While the climate pledges launched and agreed to at COP26 in Glasgow fell short of what is needed to limit global warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F) over pre-industrial levels, the direction of travel is clear. There’s no more time for what environmental activist Greta Thunberg refers to as “blah blah blah”, and private sector commitments launched at the conference look set to reshape the agenda for businesses around the world. Now that the initial buzz has died down, we take a look at how companies can get real about COP26 in the months and years to come, and become part of the solution to climate change.

Stamping out greenwashing

One of the most interesting developments to come out of COP26 was the explicit statement by the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) Foundation Trust that it will launch a new board to tackle greenwashing. This means that corporations all over the world will be held accountable for disclosing their climate risks for the first time, and will have to present them in a way that is transparent, comparable, and useful for analysts, auditors, investors, lenders and regulators.

When implemented, the new International Sustainability Standards Board’s (ISSB) sustainability disclosure requirements will mean that companies can no longer hide behind vague pledges and statements. To prepare for this change, companies need to prove real impact beyond virtue signaling – or risk falling short of expectations.

An effective sustainability program based on science

The change has already begun and action is gaining pace. In November 2021, 1,045 companies representing more than US$23tn in market capitalization responded to an urgent call to decarbonize at the pace and scale required to limit global warming to 1.5°C by joining the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) – a partnership between CDP, the United Nations Global Compact, World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

The companies span 53 sectors in 60 countries and have more than 32 million employees, and each of them have set emissions reduction targets in line with science, that are measurable and achievable.

The impact of this will be enormous – when the top 100 highest emitting companies comply with their pledges over the following months, the collective emissions reductions by 2030 should exceed 262 million tones, which is equal to the annual emissions of the entire country of Spain.

For many businesses, one of the most important immediate steps in the race to net zero is reducing emissions from power use – their scope 2 emissions – and this can be done by sourcing renewable energy.

The SBTi has now launched the world’s first net-zero corporate standard, which offers companies robust certification to demonstrate to consumers, investors and regulators that their net-zero targets are reducing emissions at the pace and scale required to keep global warming to 1.5°C – enabling them to prove their commitment. 

Making real change

For the first time, COP26 saw countries acknowledge that fossil fuels were the main cause of climate change.

Glasgow marks “an accelerated shift away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy,” according to Martina Donlon, climate communications lead at the UN.

Recognizing the progress already made in reducing the costs of clean energy alternatives such as solar, the world’s governments agreed to prioritize their support fully towards the clean energy transition – and here, the private sector has a huge role to play.

According to recent figures from the Climate Group and CDP, the international non-profit groups which run RE100 – the coalition of major businesses committed to purchasing 100% renewable electricity – companies’ demand for renewable electricity has now surpassed that of the G7 countries. 

To meet global climate targets, and to remain competitive in a world driven by affordable clean electricity, it quickly needs to become the norm to power businesses with renewables – and fortunately, this is a possibility. We should know, we’re the ones providing a growing number of companies with renewable energy.

Looking to the past to create a better future

The 1980s was the decade of big everything: big hair, extreme fashion, larger than life music industries – and a big hole in the ozone. For the first time, the impact of human activity on the environment was laid bare: chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) from refrigerators and aerosol cans were breaking apart the stratospheric layer that protected life on earth from harmful UV rays.

A landmark multilateral environmental agreement signed in 1987 – the Montreal Protocol – put an end to this. As the only United Nations (UN) treaty to have been ratified by every single country on Earth, it has led to the phasing out of 98% of ozone depleting substances compared to 1990 levels – thanks largely to the actions of innovative companies, who invested in alternative technology and rethought the way they did business. As a result, the ozone layer is projected to recover by the middle of this century.

The world back then was reacting to a global threat, and companies stepped up to the plate. Today, facing an even greater threat, we do not have the luxury to be reactive. The private sector has the opportunity to lead on climate action, and this time, being proactive will be vital.

How Atlas can help

The time for companies to act on climate change is now. In the wake of COP26, the spotlight is on corporate action, and a clean energy strategy is one of the most effective ways to meet science-based net zero targets.

Atlas Renewable Energy was conceived with sustainability at its core. It develops, builds, finances, and operates clean renewable energy projects that enable companies to power their operations sustainably.

With a range of services, from renewable power purchase agreements (PPAs) to renewable energy certificates (RECs), Atlas helps large energy consumers across industries manage their transition to net-zero and track their performance against long-term environmental and emissions targets.

To find out more about Atlas Renewable Energy’s approach and how it can align your company with net zero, please contact: contacto@atlasren.com

In partnership with Castleberry Media, we are committed to taking care of our planet, therefore, this content is responsible with the environment.

Corporate sustainability has gone from being a “nice to have” to a “must-have”, as business leaders around the world start to factor in meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs.

Although the spotlight is most often on polluting industries, organizations operating within sustainable industries also have a role to play in adopting more sustainable practices across their operations.

In this deep dive, we take a look at how companies can adopt measures that generate positive changes at scale, leading to a real environmental and consumer impact.

Why sustainability is important for business

The environmental and societal benefits of a sustainable economic model are clear, and have been brought into sharp focus by Covid-19. More and more, consumers around the world are asking the companies they purchase from to do the right thing, with the EY Future Consumer Index finding they are willing to pay a premium for sustainable products and services as the post-pandemic recovery begins.

At the international level, the upcoming COP26 meeting – touted as the “most important climate meeting of our generation” – will see countries present more ambitious commitments toward net-zero emissions.

And with rising regulatory risks and the prospect of carbon taxes in several markets, it is clear that companies must embrace sustainable business models now.

To create truly transformational change, creating shared benefits for the people and the places where we operate should become the minimum expected of every company.

We believe that companies like us have a responsibility to step forward and help spearhead this trend, in a responsible way with regard for all stakeholders.

The Atlas way

Atlas Renewable Energy was conceived with sustainability at its core. Since our launch in 2017, our vision has been to accelerate the energy transition towards clean energy while driving positive change in the wider industry. For us, this meant creating a company that would positively disrupt and elevate today’s energy sector, always putting sustainability and social progress as a core pillar of our mission. This has enabled us to become one of the fastest-growing renewable energy companies while establishing meaningful, tangible commitments with the communities where we operate.

Over the past four years, however, what we mean when we talk about sustainability has evolved. For example, an initial belief in environmental impact mitigation has grown into a commitment to zero net loss of biodiversity wherever we operate.  As the conversation moves on, we believe that there is an opportunity for companies around the world to take decisive action as sustainability leaders.

Maximizing impacts

Renewable energy companies are driving the energy transition, and the environmental benefits from our activities are enormous. However, we believe that there is little point in saving carbon emissions through our solar plants without taking into account the social and governance impacts of what we do.

By adopting ESG principles of operations, companies operating within sustainable industries can provide additional value to society and better manage the risks and opportunities arising from a wider group of stakeholders – from the communities in which they operate to the workforce they employ.

At Atlas, this means taking steps to improve our own carbon footprint, including avoiding the use of paper in our offices, improving recycling schemes, and implementing measures to encourage more flexible forms of working in order to reduce emissions from commuting. We have also sought to embed and strengthen green practices in the communities where we operate. Finally, as a company focused on having a positive impact on the people we interact with and the environments we operate in, we have worked hard to strengthen diversity, inclusion, and development as a whole.

Alongside these factors, we maintain a continual focus on innovation. This increases the value and efficiency of the projects that we develop and operate. It also maximizes the value of the raw materials we use, while minimizing the overall supply of materials we need. For example, improvements to the power generation capacity of the photovoltaic panels we use will lead to a lower number of panels being used overall, reducing resource requirements and land use.

Knowledge sharing

Fortunately, companies that seek to generate far-reaching change don’t have to start from scratch. Large multinational corporations across all industrial sectors have begun to facilitate the sharing of their sustainability initiatives with their peers – and this cross-sectoral pollination of ideas means that, no matter which area a company works in, collaborating on solutions and innovations with others means they can be shared for national and international scale-up. We have recently shared our experiences in our first-ever sustainability report

Importantly, numerous frameworks exist to give companies a starting point. The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a collection of 17 interlinked global goals designed to be a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all”. For companies wanting to advance the SDG agenda, the job starts by acting responsibly – incorporating the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact widely into strategies and operations, and understanding that good practices or innovation in one area cannot make up for doing harm in another. From there, businesses can find opportunities to contribute to the achievement of one – or several – of the goals.

In our case, we have focused on nine of the 17 SDGs. These are divided into our core SDGs which go to the heart of our business, and material SDGs that reflect our processes and mission:

As our sustainability strategy continues to develop, we will review the scope of our activities and consider whether we focus on additional SDGs beyond these nine.

IFC Performance Standards

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) Performance Standards are another important framework. Devised for IFC clients, they define companies’ responsibilities for managing their environmental and social risks, and include areas including biodiversity, resettlement, labor and community support.

All our assets, as well as our new projects, comply with these standards, and we have developed external initiatives that align our activities to the needs and challenges of the communities in which we operate.

In recent years, these have included:

  • An apiculture project created to strengthen beekeeping skills near our São Pedro plant in Brazil.
  • The creation of an environmental education center and nursery garden near our Sertão Solar plant, as well as additional nursery gardens near our São Pedro plant.
  • An environmental education program and accompanying nursery garden near our Sol do Futuro plant.
  • The donation of seedlings from the Umbu Gigante native plant near our Juazeiro Solar plant, which allowed the fruit produced to act as a source of income for neighboring communities, while contributing to local biodiversity.
  • The conservation of 1,229 hectares of forest and grassland habitat to protect local species near our project being developed in Campeche, Mexico.
  • Our partnership with The Pale Blue Dot, a Mexican organization that promotes educational programs through the use of technology in schools and community centers.
  • The Atlas female workforce program, which improves local women’s access to employment, entrepreneurial opportunities and leadership positions across the corporate value chain.

By engaging with communities in this way, we have been able to work towards the implementation of more sustainable outcomes and succeed in our goal to aid the preservation of diverse ecosystems.

Pick a metric and get started

For companies beginning their sustainability journey, deciding where to begin can often be overwhelming. Over our journey, we have discovered that targeted initiatives, focused on specific audiences, create the most tangible results. For example, one of our signature focuses has been on women in the workforce. The energy industry is overwhelmingly male-dominated, with numerous barriers to access for women.

To tackle this, we have introduced various evidence-based measures, such as:

  • Neutral language: We do not use gender-specific pronouns in our job adverts or related communications. We also ensure the language used is balanced to increase the appeal of each position and reduce the chance of missing out on high-caliber applicants.
  • Equal weighting of qualifications: We recognize the qualifications of every candidate, regardless of the institution or country in which qualifications or experience is attained.
  • Promoting access to under-represented groups: Where candidates hold similar or equal qualifications and experience, we will also consider whether any candidate is from an under-represented group.
  • Gender equity: We consider at least one female applicant within the final stage of an application process. To achieve this, we work to ensure that our job adverts do not include gendered language that may act as a disincentive for potential female applicants.

As a result, since 2017, we have more than doubled the proportion of women working in our company to 40%. This has moved us far above the energy industry average, and we are now aiming for full parity at 50%. Our focus on women applies just as much outside of Atlas as inside it, and in 2020 we launched our female workforce program “We are all part of the same energy”, which focuses on the communities where we operate. This initiative was created specifically to improve local women’s access to training on technical skills, new employment and entrepreneurial opportunities, and their leadership potential in corporate value chains.

Making a difference

Global ESG challenges, from climate, water and food crises to inequality and discrimination, are in need of solutions that the private sector can deliver. With sustainability firmly on the global agenda, no company – not even one operating in a climate-positive industry – can afford to become complacent about its activities. But with numerous frameworks available and the potential for peer-to-peer collaboration and knowledge sharing, we believe that generating sustainable change at scale is not only possible but inevitable.

In partnership with Castleberry Media, we are committed to taking care of our planet, therefore, this content is responsible with the environment.*

As a young company, Atlas Renewable Energy wants to lead our sector in terms of gender balance, diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I). We’re pushing to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, and change attitudes – both in our industry and in the communities where we operate. But achieving this means getting our own organizational culture right. In this interview, our Head of People and Communications, Marcela Pizzi, explains how we’re doing this. 

Q: What led you to center DE&I within Atlas’s organizational culture? 

A: When we first started back in 2017, we were based out of Chile with projects in Brazil and plans to work in Mexico. Working within different regions poses several challenges, the differences in languages being one of the most obvious. In this context, our first major decision was to make sure that Atlas felt like one, integrated company. 

In order to achieve this we had to clearly define, between our CEO and the rest of the leadership team, what our main values and our purpose would be. The most fundamental idea we had, the one that really defines our overall purpose, is that we want Atlas to be a force for good. 

Q: How do you define being a force for good? 

A: This involves looking at every layer of your organization through many different lenses. Being a force for good means that you have a positive impact on your environment – on one hand, this applies literally, since we work in the field of renewable energy – but on the other, we also want to have a positive impact in a social sense, on our community, on the lives of our employees and their families. 

For example, when we were going over the type of benefit and compensation policies that we would offer, we once again came back to the idea of making Atlas feel like one, integrated company. This meant that the benefits we wanted to offer would be the same regardless of location. In order to offer something truly beneficial, we looked at the best practices across all the countries we worked in and shaped our policies accordingly. That’s just one of the ways in which we have addressed DE&I.

Along the way, we noticed that we had naturally created the conditions to generate diversity, and from that point, we actively worked to create inclusivity. In a way, I would argue that inclusivity is the most important element. 

Q: How so? 

A: Diversity is something that can come about in a very superficial sense, as a way to meet quotas. Inclusivity, on the other hand, requires you to make an effort to integrate, in a very structural sense, the values that your company wants to support. 

For example, back when we were shaping our benefits policies, we noticed that out of all of the countries we worked in, Chile offered the best practices in terms of parental leave policies. We were having these conversations as our company was taking shape, and we were measuring our overall indicators, like the nationalities, ages and genders of our employees. 

In doing so, we noticed that out of the 23 people that made up the company in 2017, only 11% were women. Basically, that was me and our lawyer. On top of which, both she and I were in roles that can be considered typically female positions, so to speak. Of course, at this point, you can almost hear the same, tired conversation playing out, the one that excuses these situations by claiming that there are simply not enough women who are interested in this field, or who don’t have the qualifications. 

Q: How did you address that? 

A: We made the conscious decision to generate the type of conditions within our company structure that would present Atlas as an attractive employment option for women. So, gender equality was the first area we tackled with regard to inclusivity. 

Q: Specifically, in terms of recruitment, what measures did you apply? 

One of the most direct measures we took was requesting recruiters to find variety within candidates, starting with the requisite that at least one woman be included in their selection. Of course, this approach slowly evolved, as our company evolved. To the point where, now, we have a blind application policy, which means no indicators whatsoever to identify an applicant according to gender, age, nationality, or other markers. 

These types of measures are ongoing efforts. Beyond gender diversity, we also wanted to ensure that there would be enough representation of individuals from different regions, from different backgrounds, and so on. So, finding applicants with a diverse range of characteristics is the type of mandatory requirement that our recruiters need to meet. 

Q: What does your workforce look like now? 

A: We’ve built up our workforce diversity starting with stronger female representation, which is now at 40% in a company with 150 employees. 

Q: You were talking previously about internal structural changes that support inclusivity. Can you talk to us a bit more about these? 

Of course. For example, when it comes to our parental leave policies, we took note of Chile and its policy of six months postpartum leave. However, Chilean law limits the compensation that employees are required to receive during those six months. Companies can choose to extend the compensation beyond that limit, or not. 

Somehow, there is a sense of fear in offering full pay for six months’ leave, assuming that people will become accustomed to receiving something for nothing. However, offering someone half-pay is limiting and stressful. 

Q: Meanwhile, women are not seen as desirable employee candidates. 

A: Exactly. So, to level the playing field, we decided to also offer paternity leave. Chile offers five days of postnatal leave for fathers. We offer one month with full salary compensation. 

Q: So, you offer both maternity leave and paternity leave? 

A: That’s right, but we actually offer more than that. We also offer a bonus of US$2,500 to all new parents. 

Underlying these monetary compensations, however, are the thought processes that led us to implement these policies. One of the issues, in general, when it comes to juggling work and parenthood, is precisely the idea that individuals simply can’t do both. At some point, employees feel like they have to choose between their careers or their family life, usually due to other costs associated with childcare. In order to allow our employees to feel secure in their decision to continue working, we also offer an additional US$300 a month, applicable once the maternity or paternity leave ends until the child is three years old. 

Q: Do your efforts extend to include other gender considerations? 

A: Definitely. We conducted various trainings within our company with regards to several topics, including gender in the workplace and focusing on new interpretations of masculinity – all of which are issues that are reflected in our broader society. As these conversations took shape, so too did our understanding of how our policies need to extend beyond traditional heterosexual relationships, and should also be inclusive of same-sex couples or even single-parent households, or for those who wish to adopt or foster. Our benefit policies with regards to maternity or paternity leave, the additional birth bonus, and the monthly childcare expense bonus, therefore, apply to all parenthood scenarios. 

Q: While all this is exemplary behavior, it does require a huge investment. How do you measure your returns on this type of investment? 

A: If we go back to our core values, that of being a force for good, we measure our success in terms of how close we come to meeting those aims. 

Beyond that, there are numerous studies that show the advantages of making this type of investment in your workforce. Extend this to society in general, and we see that the benefits of gender equality in the workforce and family policies that include the role of men in childcare are all benefits that cross over onto the next generation and beyond. 

Monetary returns are secondary since they have never been our main driver. Instead, we’ve sought to measure the extent to which we can integrate our values within our company structure. Our various training sessions on topics of diversity, sensitivity, and so on were initially voluntary but now our employees are required to attend a minimum of 16 hours of training sessions per year. 

Q: As you say, these processes have been changing and evolving since 2017 – what have been the biggest lessons learned along the way? 

A: I think the biggest lessons we learned have to do with the seriousness in which we applied our measures of diversity and inclusion. So, having many conversations to determine the type of values we wanted to support and came to the realization that these require the full participation of every single member of our company, and also the participation of any partners we choose to work with. 

If you remember, I was talking about the lack of female representation in the field of energy, which is something that we wanted to improve upon on a greater scale. So we amended our contracts to make sure that any outside partner that participates in a project with us would meet certain diversity percentages in their hired workforce. We’re talking about our engineering projects, solar power projects, and so on. 

Coming back to your question about the ways in which we measure our returns on investment into these practices, I would say that creating a name for ourselves as a company that embraces and promotes these values is definitely another way we can measure our success. This draws interest from investors who know and support what we stand for, and we are able then to generate new projects that fit into our model from the get-go. 

We’re now in a place where we’re recognized for these values, and people want to work with us because of them. 

Q: What happens if someone wants to work with Atlas, but claim to be unable to meet your diversity percentages, for example? 

A: It’s happened before. In these cases, we like to propose ways in which we can meet them, by offering training programs, for instance. We train them, our contractors hire them, and we both meet our goals. 

So, the real challenge has been to really solidify our values, and look at how to go beyond buzzwords and bring about change in a very real sense. I’ve mainly talked about gender inclusivity, I know, but there are so many other areas we’ve tried to cover. Healthcare, for instance. We offer our employees health insurance that covers dental and vision insurance, which extends to their significant others, regardless of the type of partnership they have. I only mention this because in some countries we work from, same-sex couples still don’t have equal legal recognition, but we honor all partnerships just the same. 

Q: How do you see all these efforts progressing in the future? 

A: For sure with complete participation from our employees. In the end, our company model is not one that functions by following predetermined paths. We’re looking to grow through the personal development of all the individuals that make up our company. To this aim, we have initiatives like our She Leads program. 

We also regularly conduct diversity and inclusion surveys, for instance, to make space for any groups or individuals who don’t feel represented by our policies to speak their mind. In this way, we’ve previously addressed concerns regarding topics of ageism and religion, among others. Maybe we can talk more about those some other time! 

In partnership with Castleberry Media, we are committed to taking care of our planet, therefore, this content is responsible with the environment.

The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, is being held in the UK between October 31 and  November 12, 2021. The event, which will bring parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, will shape the direction of climate action for many years to come, and businesses need to engage. 

What is COP26?

The 26th UN global climate summit is a worldwide meeting on climate change and how nations intend to address it. It brings together the signatories of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – a convention agreed on in 1994. This year, more than 190 world leaders are expected to attend, together with tens of thousands of negotiators, government representatives, businesses and citizens for twelve days of talks. It has been labeled by Alok Sharma, this year’s COP president, as a “make or break” moment for keeping the objectives of the Paris Agreement –signed at COP21 – within reach.

While the commitments set out in the Paris Agreement were far-reaching, they do not come close to limiting global warming sufficiently to avoid runaway climate change, and the window for achieving this is closing. Every five years, Paris Agreement signatories are expected to submit new, and more ambitious nationally determined contributions (NDCs) on emissions reductions. COP26 will be the first time this happens, and hopes are that as many governments as possible submit new NDCs that will keep global warming well below the two degrees Celsius ceiling laid out at COP21, and preferably at 1.5 degrees.

Ahead of the meeting, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called on all countries to commit to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, and for the G20 countries to come forward with stronger 2030 NDCs. So far, 86 countries and the EU27 have submitted new or updated NDCs to the UNFCCC, with others pledging new targets that are yet to be submitted officially.

What are the key goals of COP26?

“Securing a brighter future for our children and future generations requires countries to take urgent action at home and abroad to turn the tide on climate change,” says the UK prime minister. “It is with ambition, courage and collaboration as we approach the crucial COP26 summit in the UK that we can seize this moment together, so we can recover cleaner, rebuild greener and restore our planet.”

To this end, the conference will aim to achieve four main objectives:

Secure global net-zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach

To deliver on this target, countries will need to accelerate the phase-out of fossil fuels, speed up the switch to electric vehicles, and encourage investment in renewable energies.

Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats

Climate change is already a fact of life, and at COP26 commitments will be made around protecting and restoring ecosystems, building natural disaster defenses and warning systems, and promoting resilient infrastructure and agriculture to avoid the loss of homes, livelihoods and lives.

Mobilize finance

Delivering the first two goals will require trillions of dollars in public and private sector finance. At the conference, international financial institutions, as well as developed countries, will be expected to make good on their promise to mobilize at least US$100bn in climate finance per year.

Boost collaboration

The world can only rise to the challenges of the climate crisis if everyone works together. Countries need to manage the increasing impacts of climate change on their citizens’ lives; private finance needs to fund technology and innovation, and companies need to be transparent about the risks and opportunities that climate change and the shift to a net-zero economy pose to their business.

What COP26 means for businesses

Although an ever-growing list of companies has signed up to climate change mitigation and reduction, the vast majority of corporations around the world still haven’t made official commitments to decarbonize.

With strong statements and ambitious commitments expected at COP26, it’s time for businesses to get their net-zero plans off the ground.

What’s more, the outcomes of COP26 will likely give companies certainty about the conditions in which they will be operating over the next few decades – be that carbon taxes, restrictions on fossil fuel use, or new net-zero legislation.

Acting now means that companies can gain a leading edge on what’s to come, as well as becoming part of the conversation as policies are decided. Several large companies are already doing this: in May 2020, 155 firms — with a combined market capitalization of over $2.4 trillion — signed a statement urging governments around the world to align their COVID-19 economic aid and recovery efforts with current climate science. It is now time for the rest of the corporate world to follow.

How businesses can act now

Define your path to net-zero

Companies have the opportunity to start taking ambitious climate action now with science-based emissions reduction targets. Leading companies are already proving that a 1.5°C-compliant business model is possible, and there is evidence that these companies will be best-placed to thrive as the global economy undergoes a just transition to a net-zero future by 2050.

Business Ambition for 1.5°C is a campaign led by the Science Based Targets initiative in partnership with the UN Global Compact and the We Mean Business coalition. It was launched in 2019 by a global coalition of UN agencies, business and industry leaders. It enables business leaders to publicly commit their companies to a net-zero, 1.5°C target and be recognized in the lead up to COP 26 as making a critical contribution to limiting the worst impacts of climate change.

Assess your climate risk

The near-inevitability of carbon pricing as well as growing pressure on firms to report on climate risk mean that this needs to become top of mind for companies across sectors. 

The Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) provides a framework for companies to assess potential climate-related impacts using scenario analysis, effectively evaluating risks to their business, suppliers, and competitors.

Companies that don’t have a handle on their climate risk are in jeopardy: in his recent 2021 letter to CEOs, Larry Fink, BlackRock’s CEO announced that companies should disclose climate-related risks in line with the TCFD recommendations, adding that the firm would now implement a “heightened-scrutiny model” in its active portfolios as a framework for managing holdings that pose significant climate risk, including flagging holdings for a potential exit.    

Make the switch to renewable energy

Currently, over 80% of the energy used in the world comes from fossil sources, and emissions from the energy sector account for around two-thirds of global greenhouse gas emissions. This can’t continue.

A number of leading companies can see what is coming over the horizon and are taking steps to reposition themselves. Making the switch from polluting fossil fuels to clean energy sends a strong signal that, when it comes to fighting climate change, businesses mean business.

In July last year, Microsoft along with AP Moeller-Maersk, Danone, Mercedes-Benz, Natura & Co., Nike, Starbucks, Unilever, and Wipro created the Transform to Net Zero initiative, with the tech firm committing to develop a portfolio of 500 megawatts of solar energy projects in under-resourced communities in the US. 

Meanwhile, Google pledged in September to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2030, while Apple’s newly-launched Supplier Clean Energy Program has seen 71 manufacturing partners in 17 countries commit to 100% renewable energy for the tech giant’s production as it commits to transitioning the electricity used across its entire manufacturing supply chain to clean sources by 2030.

Furthermore, growing numbers of influential, globally recognized companies have committed to 100% renewable power as part of the RE100 initiative. 

But for the objectives of COP26 to be met, every single company around the world needs to start thinking seriously about its energy transition strategy, and take steps now to execute upon this.  

How Atlas can help

If businesses don’t keep a close eye on the issues discussed at COP26, they risk being consigned to history. COP26 will result in an increased political impetus to meet ambitious climate targets. The direction of travel is clear: the net-zero future is imperative, and companies must act now.

Atlas Renewable Energy was conceived with sustainability at its core. It develops, builds, finances, and operates clean renewable energy projects across the Americas that enable companies to power their operations sustainably.

With a range of services, from renewable power purchase agreements (PPAs) to renewable energy certificates (RECs), Atlas helps large energy consumers across industries manage their transition to net-zero and track their performance against long-term environmental and emissions targets.

To find out more about Atlas Renewable Energy’s approach and how it can help bring your company in line with the objectives of COP26, please contact: contacto@atlasren.com

In partnership with Castleberry Media, we are committed to taking care of our planet, therefore, this content is responsible with the environment.

Renewable energy is now competitive with fossil fuels in many markets, and an increasing number of companies worldwide are making the switch to cleaner power. But while some businesses have excelled in their transition to green electricity, others still have some way to go.

After years of slow progress, business demand for renewable energy has now reached fever pitch. According to recent figures from the Climate Group and CDP, the international non-profit groups which run RE100 – the coalition of major businesses committed to purchasing 100% renewable electricity – companies’ demand for renewable electricity has now surpassed that of the G7 countries. 

“But many hundreds more big corporates are yet to take this relatively easy step towards net zero carbon,” said Sam Kimmins, Head of RE100 at the Climate Group in a recent statement. “To meet global climate targets, and to remain competitive in a world driven by cheap, clean electricity, it quickly needs to become the norm to power your business with renewables.”

At Atlas, we’ve seen how pioneers in various industrial sectors moving towards shifting to renewables quickly cause a ripple effect, with numerous companies swiftly following them. While one of the main driving factors behind companies’ decisions to move away from fossil fuels is to reduce the environmental impact of their business operations, our corporate clients also report bottom-line advantages, from more predictable energy costs brought about by our long-term corporate power purchase agreements (PPAs), to strengthened customer relationships and brand differentiation.

Last year, despite the disruption caused by the pandemic, research by BloombergNEF found that corporations purchased a record of 23.7GW of clean energy through PPAs, up from 20.1GW in 2019 and 13.6GW in 2018.

“More than ever before, corporations have access to affordable clean energy at a global scale. Companies no longer have an excuse for falling behind on setting and working towards a clean energy target,” said Jonas Rooze, lead sustainability analyst at BloombergNEF.

All in all, in 2020 clean energy contracts were signed by more than 130 companies, in sectors ranging from oil and gas to big tech. As more firms go green, this is not only a way to demonstrate corporate social responsibility but also to improve financial performance and reduce the carbon footprint at a time when governments are setting ever more ambitious targets to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement.

However, although some industries are leading the way in converting their energy consumption to renewable sources, others could be doing better.

Food processing and production

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the food sector accounts for around a third of the world’s total energy consumption. The two most energy-intensive activities are found within agricultural production and processing and are dependent largely on the use of fossil fuels. Reducing direct carbon emissions by moving to cleaner energy is an urgent task for the industry and one that several companies have started to take on.

In July this year, PepsiCo achieved its goal of using 100% renewable energy across all operations in Mexico, its second-largest market. This came less than a year after the company reached a similar milestone in the United States, its largest market. The company plans to source 100% renewable electricity across all of its company-owned and controlled operations by 2030, and 100% renewable electricity across its entire franchise and third-party operations by 2040. If it meets its goals, the company calculates it could reduce approximately 2.5 million tons of GHG emissions by 2040, the equivalent of taking more than half a million cars off the road for a full year.

To do this, it is employing several solutions, including PPAs that will support the development of new projects such as solar and wind farms around the world, as well as purchased renewable energy certificates (RECs).

Another company looking to use more renewable energy is Nestlé. As part of its 2050 net-zero ambition, unveiled in 2019, it has pledged to continue to ramp up its use of renewable electricity to reach 100% by 2025, up from 34.5% in 2018, and says it plans to use PPAs, green tariffs, RECs and on-site production to do so.

These companies, alongside peers such as Diageo and Mars, are taking bold steps towards helping to drive the global transition to clean power – and this looks likely to win them new customers.

More and more, people are demanding cleaner, more sustainable energy. A survey conducted in the US in 2019 by the Pew Research Center found that 77% of respondents believe that developing “alternative energy” is a more important priority right now than producing more fossil fuels in order to reduce the effects of climate change. As consumers increasingly vote with their wallets, companies that are aligned with their values are positioned to take market share from companies that don’t move with the times.

Fortunately, companies within the food industry that haven’t yet taken steps towards cleaning up their electricity use aren’t too late. The availability of sourcing models for renewable electricity has advanced significantly in recent years, and there are numerous options available for companies of all types.

Pulp and paper

The pulp and paper industry was arguably one of the most unlikely beneficiaries of the Covid-19 pandemic, experiencing skyrocketing demand amid the increased need for personal hygiene products, food packaging products, corrugated packaging for online shopping deliveries, and other paper-based materials. Like most major manufacturing operations, papermaking is an energy-intensive endeavor, and as paper-based production increases, the industry may fail to achieve its emission reduction target due to the rapid growth of greenhouse gas emissions.

In a recent report, the International Energy Agency (IEA) highlights the sector as needing “more effort” if it is to reduce its emissions. Among its recommendations are for the industry to increasingly recover and use pulp and paper production by-products such as black liquor to displace a portion of fossil fuel use.

However, simply using more biomass energy won’t be enough to turn the sector green, the report says. It calls for companies to pursue the use of other renewable energy sources, particularly for recycled production, for which natural gas tends to be employed because biomass by-products are not readily available.

Textiles and garments

The fashion industry is another sector that has an enormous opportunity to harness the power of renewables in order to drive a more sustainable future. Every stage of the textile industry’s supply chain is energy-intensive, from processing yarn, producing fabric, and fabricating textiles, to transporting and selling clothes to customers, and several major fashion brands are now looking at reducing greenhouse gas emissions by powering all their global operations with renewable energy.

As part of the global RE100 initiative, well-known brands from H&M to Nike, Burberry and Ralph Lauren have already committed to sourcing 100% of their electricity from renewable suppliers by 2050 at the latest, and some are also running programs to ensure their suppliers also reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by switching to green energy.

Kingwhale, a Taiwan-based textile mill, recently joined the RE100 initiative, pledging to achieve 100% renewable electricity by 2040, but it’s the only Asia-Pacific-based textile manufacturer to do so.

Within the garment industry, there is a growing divide between renewable energy transition pioneers and their less energy-efficient peers, and much as scandals over labor practices within textile supply chains have damaged the image of brands in recent years, companies that don’t operate more sustainably in terms of energy use and consumption risk alienating their customers.

Closing the gap

Across some of the world’s biggest industries, a clear gap is emerging between those companies that have already made progress in the energy transition, and those that are yet to take the first step. Bringing the performance of the laggards in line with the pioneers will be crucial if the objectives laid out in the Paris Agreement are to be met – but it’s also a matter of survival. In the post-Covid world, consumers are increasingly focused on the sustainability credentials of the companies they buy from, and making the switch from polluting fossil fuels to clean energy sends a strong signal that, when it comes to fighting climate change, businesses mean business.