Climate Week’s Biggest Corporate Commitments Shift to “Regeneration”

Great American Grasslands Photo: (c) Day’s Edge, WWF-US

The most progressive corporate commitments this week involve nature-based mitigation and pushing sustainability out into their supply chains.  Walmart pledged to do some big things, including achieving zero emissions by 2040 without carbon offsets, committing to protect and restore at least 50 million acres of land and one million square miles of ocean by 2030, and promising zero waste in the US, Canada, and Japan by 2025.  Cargill, McDonald’s and the Walmart Foundation are working with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to improve the health of 1 million acres of grasslands on the northern plains (see related story here), increasing underground carbon storage, filtering clean water, and providing habitat for wildlife. And Unilever is setting aside 1 billion Euros to fund nature regeneration projects including achieving a deforestation-free supply chain, promoting regenerative agriculture, and transitioning to biodegradable ingredients by 2023.

Why This Matters:  Nature-based solutions have until now often been seen as greenwashing. But these new commitments go much farther.  They begin to address the systemic loss of nature in response to the very real but until now underappreciated biodiversity crisis.  The good news is that these companies see that addressing biodiversity loss creates climate benefits too.  More governments should follow this lead.  And with hundreds of millions of customers worldwide — these companies have a big climate and biodiversity public awareness opportunity.  

Leaders In Their Own Words:

“Nature sustains life let alone the products our customers rely on. We must reverse nature loss before we reach a tipping point from which ecosystem loss will not recover…Experience suggests we can grow renewable energy, create jobs, and expand economic opportunity.  We are facing a reality that says we need everyone, including those who passionately defend fossil fuels, to have at least as much passion to aggressively fund and support sustainable alternatives with urgency.” 

Doug McMillon, President and CEO Walmart

“The choices we make today will fundamentally determine our long-term resilience to the biodiversity and climate crises, which is why we must rapidly scale up the protection and restoration of nature in the next few years. Walmart’s investments in our lands and oceans are a significant milestone for these efforts – and a testament to the fact that investing in nature benefits both businesses and local communities. Conservation International is proud to have partnered with Walmart on the science behind this commitment, and we look forward to turning today’s announcement into real impacts for people and the planet.”

M. Sanjayan, CEO Conservation International

“This innovative work is an important step toward scaling climate solutions across the supply chain, building resiliency and achieving McDonald’s science-based climate target to significantly reduce emissions across our offices, restaurants and supply chain by 2030.”

Francesca DeBiase, McDonald’s EVP, Chief Supply Chain and Sustainability Officer.

“While our own footprint on greenhouse gasses is relatively small, where we can really make a difference at scale is by using our network effect to reach our customers and their clients,” in announcing its “Priceless Planet” campaign.

Ajay Banga, President and CEO, Mastercard

To Go Deeper:  You can judge the depth of Walmart’s commitment for yourself — watch the full Walmart presentation here, particularly McMillon’s remarks starting at about 1:50 and going to 15:35.  It’s worth your time.

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