6 Big Corporations That Are Taking Climate Change Action Seriously

CDP releases its 2017 A-List, that reveals more companies making serious efforts to combat climate change.

Some good news about climate change, for a change. Last year, CDP, formerly called the “Carbon Disclosure Project,” took a look at how — and if — high-environment-impact businesses were responding to the 2016 Paris Climate agreement. The companies’ initial actions were a bit disappointing, with many companies not responding or not having plans in motion for meeting the Paris accord’s climate goals. Taking a second look this year, however, CDP found the picture is changing, as more companies are mapping out a low-carbon future. While some politicians continue to stubbornly ignore climate change, businesses are, nonetheless, getting down to work.

The CDP is a major source of company carbon emission data for more than 800 investors managing assets of over $100 trillion. It tracks corporations’ environmental behavior, including their transparency, philosophies, and actions. The non-profit organization also measures companies’ efforts to protect water and forests. Over 6,200 companies disclose environmental data to the CDP.

The first encouraging sign in this year’s CDP findings is that 58% of the high-impact combines responded to CDP’s requests for information. These companies frepresent the entire global economy, weighted towards higher carbon emitters and big companies. Together they account for 47% of market capitalization and 12% of total greenhouse gas emissions.


Even more positive is the number of companies now joining CDP’s A List, 112 companies whose environmental leadership earns them CDP’s highest score. Many are familiar names, such as Unilever, L’Oréal, Owens-Corning, Fujitsu, Nissan, and Ford.

According to information provided by CDP to Big Think:

  • 89% of high-impact companies now have carbon emissions targets, with 68% to at least 2020 (up from 55% in 2016), and 20% with targets to 2030 and beyond (up from 14% in 2016).
  • 14% of of the companies are committed to aligning their targets with climate science, a 5% increase since last year. 300-plus more companies (30%) plan to set targets within two years.
  • Current targets are taking the companies 31% of the way to a two-degree world, up from 25% in 2016.
  • (CDP)

    Working to protect the climate is changing how these companies do business altogether. Again, numbers from CDP:

  • 36% are offering low carbon products, including electric vehicles and zero-energy buildings (up from 30% in 2016).
  • 75% assert that their efforts help third parties reduce emissions (up from 64% in 2016).
  • 32% now use internal carbon pricing, with 18% more intending to implement it within two years.
  • 36% more companies have set renewable energy consumption targets for their production lines in the last year (75 companies on 2017, up from 55 in 2016).
  • Some of the Companies Leading the Climate-Change Charge

    Unilever (Scores A in carbon emissions, water use, and forest protection)


    Unilever, the Dutch-British consumer goods company, has a multi-faceted approach to combatting climate change. It’s committed to the 100% use of renewable energy across all of its operations by 2030. The company set a target of reducing per-production-tonne CO2 emissions by 40% of 2008 levels by 2020, and it’s already reduced emissions by 43%. Unilever also endeavors to engage its customers in protecting the environment, with new products that, for example, reduce water or energy use. Unilever’s complex supply chain depends on agricultural raw materials, and is therefore especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change, so its environmental efforts are in part motivated by a desire to future-proof its materials supply.

    L’Oréal (Scores A in carbon emissions, water use, and forest protection)


    French cosmetics company L’Oréal has committed to “zero deforestation” by 2020, and already sources 100% of its palm oil derivatives via Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil certification and helped develop Sustainable Palm Oil and Traceability (SPOT), a tool for evaluating the environmental and social performance of the company’s products. The company also leverages the Global Forest Watch Tool to track deforestation risks down its supply chain — L’Oréal can trace back 91% of raw materials to the refinery level and 74% of raw materials to the palm oil-mills level. L’Oréal supports 500 small farmers in Sabah, Malaysia, as a source for certified sustainable palm oil. They’re now working in Indonesia to gain access to an additional 30% of the palm oil derivatives they use.

    Owens-Corning (Scores A in carbon emissions)

     (THE BLADE)

    U.S. insulation, roofing, and fiberglass composites company Owens-Corning set itself a target to reduce greenhouse-gas intensity by 20% in 2020. To meet it, the company had to invent new blowing agent blends for use in manufacturing, resulting in less emissions intensity and more sustainable insulation products. They hit their 20% target six years early. The company has now upped that target to 50%. Owens-Corning has also implanted sweeping operational changes and is developing a residential builders’ guide for building net-zero homes.

    Fujitsu (Scores A in carbon emissions)


    Information and communication technology (ICT) company Fujitsu has achieved its emissions target while simultaneously bringing to market more energy-efficient products — their goal is to achieve top energy efficiency in 50% of all new products they make. In May 2017, they launched their Climate and Energy Vision program to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2050.

    Nissan (Scores A in water use)


    Japanese carmaker Nissan was one of the first companies to consider and begin mitigating its environmental impact, setting a goal way back in 2006 of reducing CO2 emissions from “well-to-wheel” by 70% of 2000 levels by 2050. It has since increased that target to 90%, and is now the leader in mass-market electric vehicles.

    Ford Motor Company (Scores A in water use)


    U.S. car company Ford, has undertaken a range of programs to reduce its footprint. Its 2014 Partnership for a Cleaner Environment (PACE), inaugurated a system between Ford and its Tier 1 suppliers for reporting their water use and adopting water saving initiatives in multi-year phases. Suppliers are encouraged to learn from each other, establishing best practices, and implementing PACE across their own supplier networks.

    Dare to Hope

    The heartening word that companies are taking climate change seriously is reinforced by other entities, as well, says the CDP: The city of San Diego, for example, is taking an highly pro-active stance against climate change: It plans to halve its carbon footprint and convert to 100% renewables by 2035, and is already engaging with energy and technology partners to plan for this goal and make life better, and more sustainable, for its citizens. Says Cody Hooven, the city’s chief sustainability officer,”“It’s about the future of our city and building a city that people want to live in.”

    What CDP’s 2017 A List report is suggesting is that we may be at the dawn of a new era regarding this overwhelming threat to our survival. Among scientists, the debate abut climate change is long over, and people — and corporations — everywhere are seeing that something must be done to slow down or reverse it. We may be getting there late, but, just maybe, we may finally be getting there.

    Tesla introduces new Model 3 at $45,000

    The new version's battery has a shorter range and a price $4,000 lower than the previous starting price.

    Tesla Model 3 (Photo: Tesla)
    Technology & Innovation
    • Tesla's new version of the Model 3 costs $45,000 and can travel 260 miles on one charge.
    • The Model 3 is the best-selling luxury car in the U.S.
    • Tesla still has yet to introduce a fully self-driving car, even though it once offered the capability as an option to be installed at a future date.
    Keep reading Show less
    Mind & Brain
    • When it comes to educating, says Dr. Elizabeth Alexander, a brave failure is preferable to timid success.
    • Fostering an environment where one isn't afraid to fail is tantamount to learning.
    • Human beings are complicated and flawed. Working with those complications and flaws leads to true knowledge.
    Keep reading Show less

    What is kalsarikänni? The Finnish art of being "pantsdrunk"

    Drinking home alone in your underwear just might be what you need to be as relaxed as the Finnish.

    Big Think art department / Finnish tourism department
    Personal Growth
    • Päntsdrunk is the latest trend to come out of Scandinavia and it involves drinking alone at home.
    • Finnish writer Miska Rantanen outlines the philosophy in his newest book titled: Pantsdrunk: Kalsarikanni: The Finnish Path to Relaxation.
    • Kalsarikänni is a word in Finnish that literally means "drinking at home and alone in your underwear."
    Keep reading Show less

    The surprising psychology of sex with your ex

    We all know sleeping with your ex is a bad idea, or is it?

    Sex & Relationships
    • In the first study of its kind, researchers have found sex with an ex didn't prevent people from getting over their relationship.
    • Instead of feeling worse about their breakup after a hookup, the new singles who attempted sexual contact with their ex reported feeling better afterwards.
    • The findings suggest that not every piece of relationship advice is to be taken at face value.
    Keep reading Show less

    Yes, Mega Millions just passed $1 billion. What does that look like?

    It's hard to imagine such a number. But these images will help you try.


    The Mega Millions lottery just passed $1 billion for tonight's drawing.

    What does that even look like, when represented by various currencies?

    It takes just 6 numbers to win. You can only, however, purchase tickets up until 10:45 ET tonight.

    Keep reading Show less

    Denmark has the flattest work hierarchy in the world

    "It's about having employees that are empowered."

    Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

    Denmark may be the birthplace of the Lego tower, but its workplace hierarchy is the flattest in the world.

    According to the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report 2018, the nation tops an index measuring "willingness to delegate authority" at work, beating 139 other countries.

    Keep reading Show less

    Relationship hack: Why class clowns make better partners

    Want a happy, satisfying relationship? Psychologists say the best way is to learn to take a joke.

    Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
    Sex & Relationships
    • New research looks at how partners' attitudes toward humor affects the overall quality of a relationship.
    • Out of the three basic types of people, people who love to be laughed at made for better partners.
    • Fine-tuning your sense of humor might be the secret to a healthy, happy, and committed relationship.
    Keep reading Show less

    Single algae cells can help deliver targeted medicine

    Tiny and efficient, these biodegradable single cells show promise as a way to target hard-to-reach cancers.

    Credit: O. Yasa et al./Adv. Mater.
    Surprising Science
    • Scientists in Germany have found a potential improvement on the idea of bacteria delivering medicine.
    • This kind of microtargeting could be useful in cancer treatments.
    • The microswimmers are biodegradable and easy to produce.

    Metin Sitti and colleagues at the Max Planck Institute in Germany recently demonstrated that tiny drugs could be attached to individual algae cells and that those algae cells could then be directed through body-like fluid by a magnetic field.

    The results were recently published in Advanced Materials, and the paper as a whole offers up a striking portrait of precision and usefulness, perhaps loosely comparable in overall quality to recent work done by The Yale Quantum Institute. It begins by noting that medicine has been attached to bacteria cells before, but bacteria can multiply and end up causing more harm than good.

    A potential solution to the problem seems to have been found in an algal cell: the intended object of delivery is given a different electrical charge than the algal cell, which helps attach the object to the cell. The movement of the algae was then tested in 2D and 3D. (The study calls this cell a 'microswimmer.') It would later be found that "3D mean swimming speed of the algal microswimmers increased more than twofold compared to their 2D mean swimming speed." The study continues —

    More interestingly, 3D mean swimming speed of the algal microswimmers in the presence of a uniform magnetic field in the x-direction was approximately threefolds higher than their 2D mean swimming speed.

    After the 2D and 3D speed of the algal was examined, it was then tested in something made to approximate human fluid, including what they call 'human tubal fluid' (think of the fallopian tubes), plasma, and blood. They then moved to test the compatibility of the microswimmer with cervical cancer cells, ovarian cancer cells, and healthy cells. They found that the microswimmer didn't follow the path of bacteria cells and create something toxic.

    The next logical steps from the study include testing this inside a living organism in order to assess the safety of the procedure. Potential future research could include examining how effective this method of drug delivery could be in targeting "diseases in deep body locations," as in, the reproductive and gastrointestinal tracts.