Ahead of UN climate summit, Google, Amazon, IKEA pledge environmental initiatives

Businesses seem to be listening.
Businesses seem to be listening.
Image: REUTERS/Baz Ratner
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Ahead of the United Nations Climate Action Summit on Sept. 22, multinational companies are committing to using renewable energy at record levels.

IKEA and Google are two of the organizations that have pledged major renewable energy initiatives in recent days. Amazon and other companies have vowed to adhere to the Paris climate change accord goals well ahead of schedule.

As national governments including the US and Brazil have backtracked from environmental commitments, the UN has increased its focus on businesses to fill the gap. “Other actors are becoming fundamental, especially the business community and the local authorities,” UN secretary general Antonio Guterres said on Sept. 20. “That movement largely compensates for the lack of positive engagement by the government.”

Driven by falling renewable costs and corporate environmental pledges, corporate demand for renewables reached a new high in the US last year, jumping from 1.20 gigawatts (GW) in 2014 to 6.53 GW in 2018, according to the Business Renewables Center. 

IKEA’s holding company Ingka Group, which controls 367 of IKEA’s 423 retail outlets, said it has invested $2.76 billion in solar and wind energy systems over the last decade to power its global operations. The Swedish company’s environmental record includes investing in solar parks, wind farms, and a million solar panel units. The significant investment makes IKEA the “rare global consumer brand to own and operate its own renewable energy infrastructure,” as Quartz reported. The company expects its entire supply chain will become climate positive by 2030.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai last week announced that the tech company plans to make its biggest corporate purchase of renewable energy yet. The purchase consists of a 1,600-megawatt package of agreements and includes 18 new energy deals spanning the US, Chile, and Europe. These deals will increase the output of Google’s total wind and solar agreements by more than 40%.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos last week announced that the tech company will commit to meet the goals of the Paris climate change agreement 10 years ahead of schedule. Under a new pledge, Amazon committed to the goal of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2040, and promised to measure and report the company’s emissions on a regular basis. As part of the plan, the company has agreed to purchase 100,00 electric delivery vans from vehicle manufacturer Rivian. 

Australian software company Atlassian plans to announce at the UN summit that it will adopt a target of net-zero emissions by no later than 2050.

More than 2,000 companies and investors including Amazon, Twitter, Target, and Nike, signed on to a “We are still in” open letter to the United Nations, pledging to help reduce carbon emissions by 26% by 2025.