Beyond the Politics of Climate Change

Beyond the Politics of Climate Change

By Paul Grimwood, Chairman And CEO, Nestlé USA
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Monday, February 9, 2015 - 11:00am

CONTENT: Article

If you want to start a fight in Washington, just say “climate change.”

Whether it’s the ongoing acrimony over the fate of the Keystone Pipeline or the congressional tug of war over everything from fuel standards to alternative energy, one thing is as clear as the sky on a brisk winter day in the nation’s capital: Democrats and Republicans have largely agreed to disagree.

We understand the challenges facing lawmakers who must wrestle with these complex issues on Capitol Hill, but we believe the politics of climate change shouldn’t change industry’s commitment to reducing carbon intensity. At Nestlé, we are determined to take concrete, measureable and transparent action on these issues in the U.S. and all over the world no matter which way the political winds are blowing.

Indeed, the beauty of private enterprise is that we see the world through a lens that isn’t red or blue.

As the world’s largest food and beverage company, we have an enormous stake in all that happens to the planet. Global weather patterns affect crop yields, water availability and infrastructure integrity. These changes impact the business we do every day as well as the work of farmers, suppliers and distributors across our vast network of partners. Nestlé has been around for 150 years and intends to flourish for at least another 150, and we believe tackling climate change is key to a healthy planet and healthy people.

One thing we do have in common with our nation’s lawmakers, though, is that we also must answer to our constituency. The difference is that whereas a member of Congress must listen to his or her district, Nestlé has to answer to – and serve – consumers around the world. We take this role, and the trust placed in us, very seriously.

We have more than 333,000 employees in over 150 countries – 51,000 in the U.S. alone. Nestlé sells 1 billion products every day – products that end up in 97% of U.S. households. Our constituency is the 7 billion people (and counting) who share this fragile planet and buy our products.

At Nestlé, this approach informs everything we do. For us it’s about shared value: creating value for our shareholders, but equally important is creating a sustainable value for society. Our commitment to this mission is ingrained in Nestlé’s culture and woven into every aspect of our business plan. And the truth is, our approach to the environment is good for our bottom line, too.

Which brings us back to climate change.

Nestlé stepped forward this past fall, alongside other companies, to embrace the EPA’s proposed rule to dramatically reduce carbon emissions at the nation’s power plants. The move reflects our values and is one of many ongoing initiatives designed to protect the environment and to operate in a sustainable way. A quick glimpse at some of what we’ve already achieved as part of our continuous improvement:

  • Lower emissions: Nestlé has reduced greenhouse gas emissions per ton of product by more than 35% globally since 2005, achieving a goal we set for ourselves two years early. The absolute reduction is 7.4%.
  • Energy efficiency: Globally, renewable energy accounted for 13.3% of total on-site energy consumption of our factories in 2013, a year in which the company invested $61 million in energy efficiency.
  • Phasing out refrigerants: Nestlé is helping to meet President Obama’s challenge of eliminating HFCs. By the end of 2013 we had already phased out 93% of refrigerants globally that have been shown to contribute to global warming.
  • Waste and recycling: Our commitment to have our operations produce less waste has shown marked improvement year over year, including five U.S. factory locations which reached zero waste to landfill status in 2013. We have reduced our waste per metric ton of product by 44% since 2010, further reducing our energy consumption.

Nestlé understands the unique role that a company of our size can play in moving the needle on environmental issues. By switching to cleaner fuels, using sustainably managed renewable energy sources or optimizing our distribution networks, we are helping to bring about the change needed for the health of our planet and all of its inhabitants.

Our environmental endeavors are not simply points in time – initiatives embraced today but forgotten tomorrow. We are investing heavily in research and technology over the long term because innovation and improvement is embedded in Nestlé’s DNA. How else could we do things like turning coffee grounds and misshapen or expired chocolate into renewable energy to help power our factories?

We don’t accept the false choice that one must pick sides in the rancorous climate debate. Doing right by the planet is Nestlé’s business, and our initiatives now and in the years to come will continue to fuel us on this important journey.

CATEGORY: Environment