During the past year, shopping, and general consumption, changed drastically. To keep my family safe, I ordered almost everything I needed online, even our groceries. With most movie theaters closed, many of us set up new streaming services as well. The pandemic sped up the already growing e-commerce and streaming market, making it possible for us to have everything we need at our fingertips. However, as these industries keep growing, so do the carbon emissions. In 2019, Amazon held 50% of the e-commerce market share. At that point, the business emitted almost 1% of all global carbon emissions. Although the IEA reports that the carbon footprint of streaming videos is relatively modest due to improved standards at data centers, it is still important to continue reducing emissions. With the entire market growing rapidly, these businesses need to ensure that intersectional environmental concerns are just as high on their priority lists as their profits.
Fortunately, there seems to be hope for this. Some of the biggest e-commerce and tech companies such as Netflix, Disney, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and a few others have partnered with the Environmental Defense Fund, United Nations Environment Program, and World Wildlife Fund to create an alliance that will work to create better climate solutions for businesses, create shared funding opportunities, and share knowledge and research. The alliance hopes that this will make it easier for brands to make sustainable business decisions and get businesses to go green a lot faster. With experts calculating that $3.8 trillion is needed in annual investments to transition away from fossil fuels by 2050, the Business Alliance to Scale Climate Solutions has an opportunity to make a real difference.
The alliance has come up with three goals that they announced on June 3rd. First, they will gather information and resources from other businesses, experts, and environmental organizations to identify better climate solutions for businesses. The alliance also hopes to create a neutral platform for businesses, experts, and the communities they impact to meet and discuss climate initiatives. Finally, the alliance wishes to use this new platform to share success stories, sustainable business practices, and new opportunities to encourage other businesses. When businesses make promises like this, it’s crucial for there to be something to hold them accountable so we know it’s more than just a PR strategy. Although I was slightly relieved when I saw that environmental agencies like the UN and WWF partnered with them, I still wanted to see expressed commitments on how these brands will make sure they’re making impactful changes that aren’t just increasing emissions and pumping money into carbon offsetting.
The Business Alliance to Scale Climate Solutions reassured that all carbon credits used by participating companies will have to be “additional, real, quantifiable, and verifiable emissions reductions or removals, and must not be double counted.” Although it was said that member brands will use science-based targets as a guide for emission reductions, little else was said on how this will be achieved. For an alliance announced less than two weeks ago, I have hope for the change that this could bring. I would love to see these brands specifically target how their own businesses affect the environment and communities around them. I would like to see more defined targets on employee treatment, water and energy usage, and a transition to a more circular consumption process from the alliance soon. What do you hope that this new alliance will bring to our future?
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