Consumer products giant Kimberly-Clark has updated its sustainability plan, now aiming to reduce its plastics, water and natural forests footprints 50% by 2030.
The company /zigman2/quotes/201766540/composite KMB +0.41% plans to reduce its absolute greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by half in just a decade from scope 1 sources, which are the emissions from its own production, and from scope 2 sources, those created from producing the energy a company purchases to run its business; 2015 will serve as the base year. Further, the company aims to cut its scope 3 emissions from along the supply chain by 20%. These goals were recently approved by the Science Based Targets initiative .
In December 2019, a report from the SBT revealed that 285 businesses have now set emissions goals in line with the Paris Agreement, a volunteer international pact which aims to limit global warming to at least under 2°C; the Trump administration, citing noncompliance by developing nations, has removed the U.S. from this plan. The SBT estimates that the actions of these companies will spur more than $18 billion in climate-mitigation investment and up to 90 terawatt hours of annual renewable electricity generation.
The new sustainability strategy announced Wednesday replaces Kimberly-Clark’s previous “Sustainability 2022” framework, after the majority of its targets were surpassed.
Kimberly-Clark’s move also follows other aggressive climate-minded pledges — and increased scrutiny from environmental groups that those promises are kept — by technology mainstays and household conglomerates alike. Among them, Unilever /zigman2/quotes/204685760/composite UL +1.27% , parent to Ben & Jerry’s, Lipton, Marmite and more, last month earmarked 1 billion euros ($1.13 billion) for a climate and nature fund, and pledged net-zero emissions across its product lineup by 2039.
Lisa Morden, ranked among GreenBiz’s Badass Women list in 2019, is Kimberly-Clark’s vice president for safety and sustainability. She told GreenBiz in an interview that a “decisive decade” lies ahead for corporations when it comes to environmental impact.
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Climate-change announcements by the likes of Amazon /zigman2/quotes/210331248/composite AMZN +1.10% , which can claim a roughly $1 trillion market cap and is often tagged for the impact of its fast delivery footprint, are piling up and highlight the split between private-sector action and the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris pact.
Still, doubts remain that one-off actions can collectively move the needle.
“The scale and pace of change to date [of the private sector] to deliver sustainable development goals has not been big enough or fast enough,” said Remi Erikson, CEO of risk-management firm DNV GL, in a new report from the United Nations.
The report, called Uniting Business in the Decade of Action, covers the period since a major U.N. effort was launched 10 years ago and shows that only 39% of companies surveyed believe they have targets that are sufficiently ambitious to meet the sustainable development goals by 2030.
“Only 46% of businesses surveyed are embedding the SDGs in their core business and less than a third of businesses believe their industry is moving fast enough to deliver the SDGs by 2030,” he said.
The Kimberly-Clark sustainability report also detailed company efforts to get more of the toilet paper, feminine hygiene products and diapers that it produces into vulnerable and underserved communities . “To reach a billion people is certainly an ambitious goal that requires a significant step change from our previous efforts, and we are ready to take it on,” said Alison Lewis, chief growth officer for Kimberly-Clark.
Kimberly-Clark shares are up 3.7% in the year to date. The S&P 500 /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX +0.82% is down 2.6% over the same stretch.