Looking Ahead: What it Will Take to Reach Net-Zero

May 30, 2023 2:00 PM ET
Green fields

Mary Jacques, Executive Director Global ESG & Regulatory Compliance

As we celebrate Earth Month, it’s important to pause and reflect on the progress that Lenovo has made, and to acknowledge the hard work that lies ahead. As Executive Director of Lenovo’s Global ESG programs and leader of the team driving Lenovo’s emissions reduction goals, I am immensely proud that we announced our net-zero emissions goal earlier this year after having them validated by the Science Based Targets initiative. In line with this and Lenovo’s global sustainability commitments, it’s critical for us to track consumer perception of sustainability issues and ensure that we’re not only meeting our customers where they are, but also bringing them along for the journey.

Lenovo recently conducted a survey of 10,000 individuals across eight diverse markets to track consumer perception of sustainability issues. What we found was a high level of concern about climate change, and a significant gap in understanding about the terms being used. Additionally, the majority of those surveyed believed that companies are not taking enough action to mitigate climate change.

  • 83% stated they are extremely, very, or somewhat concerned about climate change
  • 83% of respondents who felt action needs to be taken to address climate change responded that corporations are not doing their part
  • 66% could not decipher the difference between ‘carbon neutral’ and ‘net-zero’

This gap in understanding is by no means the fault of the general public, and their expectations of corporations and governments are not misplaced. While climate scientists, governments and the media have been raising awareness of global warming for decades, the most valid and science-based communications are often full of technical jargon and easy to misunderstand. While we work to increase public understanding of climate change, these survey results highlight that there is more for us to do as corporations to help realize a net-zero future. To get there, I see three urgent tasks at hand:

  1. Streamlined and approachable sustainability communications: Corporations have a role to play in educating consumers about climate change and what’s needed to address it. Bringing ideas to life through meaningful, accessible examples is key. At Lenovo, we’re developing engaging examples across our stakeholder groups to further understanding. For our employees, we’re developing learning modules to equip our salesforce with the information they need to represent the impact of Lenovo’s sustainability innovations and services. We’ve also integrated our environmental advancements into our global internal communications, providing resources and analogies to help all Lenovo employees appreciate our commitments. Our partnership with Wine To Water, an organization focused on increasing access to clean water, is helping us share relatable stories with all our stakeholders about access to clean water, an issue that is set to become more urgent as we see more evidence of the growing impacts of climate change.
  2. Collaboration with companies and governments: Climate change is not something that one company can address on its own. Impact will only be felt when businesses are ready to take action to help accelerate global efforts by boosting investments and innovation, working across industries and value chains to promote meaningful commitments, and advocating for sound government actions and policies around climate change mitigation. While governments have a role to play in putting in place sufficient rules and frameworks to ensure that organizations have a fair competitive landscape while investing in net-zero commitments, it’s up to organizations like Lenovo to innovate to meet the sustainability standards of the future.
  3. Corporations must use their platforms to influence: Corporations are powerful actors in society and have both the means and the influence to better align their activities to build a more inclusive, equitable and sustainable economy. It’s up to corporations to take greater responsibility, leverage their platforms to reach consumers and others in their value chain, and accurately inform them to scale change. As a global technology company, we understand that the decisions we make impact future generations. That’s why we are taking a credible and accountable path to emissions reduction by aligning with the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). This approach ensures that our targets are thoroughly examined and that we’re held accountable to them. SBTi’s validation of our targets also means that our performance against our targets will contribute to a wider body of data tracking how to manage and reduce emissions. All of these efforts align to the goals set forth in the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Everyone plays a role in reaching a net-zero future and thousands of companies are currently in line to have their emissions reduction goals validated by SBTi. While I’m extremely proud that Lenovo is the first PC and smartphone maker and 139th company in the world to receive validation to the Net-Zero Standard, an early start doesn’t guarantee that we will be the first to reach net-zero. Collaboration and best practice sharing will be vital to expediting collective progress. We will be cheering on the progress of everyone in the race, because as everyone plays a role in a net-zero future, everyone’s future also depends on net-zero.

This is a time for thinking big, for collaborating, and for pushing the boundaries of what we think is possible. The only way we can act against climate change is by working together and sharing best practices for a more collaborative and smarter future for all.