Energy Efficiency, GHG Emissions, Industrial - January 8, 2020 - By Scott Tew, Ingersoll Rand
The Importance of Setting Bold Sustainability Targets
As we begin 2020, we’re leaving behind one of the hottest years on record. The need for climate action has never been more urgent as we only have until 2030 to bend the curve against catastrophic climate change, including extreme drought, wildfires, floods and food shortages for hundreds of millions of people.
People around the world have started making small changes to counteract the impact we’ve already made, and emerging leaders are growing more vocal about the changes they expect to see the rest of the world make.
Corporations are historically slow to make operational changes toward sustainability, and there are a few reasons why. This requires substantial financial and time investment with sweeping behavior changes that require the support of the most senior executives and stakeholders in order to truly succeed. But as we approach the no-return temperature rise of 1.5° C above pre-industrial levels, corporations - particularly those with solutions that can move the needle - must step up to lead.
For us at Ingersoll Rand, we knew that meaningful change meant we had to put sustainability at the center of our business strategy; it is the lens through which we make every decision. As 2019 came to a close, we were delighted to have completed our ambitious sustainability goals for 2020, which led to a cultural transformation inside the company and changed how we view innovation, engagement and our role in solving some of the world’s greatest challenges. In fact, we managed to reduce the GHG footprint of our products by 53%, reduce the GHG footprint of our own operations by 45% and invest more than $500 million in product-related research and development to fund long-term GHG reductions.
The great success from the completion of our first bold sustainability targets led to the recent announcement of our 2030 commitments, which are even more aggressive.
As the call for action is louder than ever, there are a few best practices we’ve learned along the way. Namely, making big, bold climate commitments requires the participation and support of leadership, encourages employee engagement and can position your company as a leader in the market to your customers as you help address big challenges.
- Inspiring Participation and Support from Leadership: No great initiative can be successful without the support of the executive team or the board. These types of culture changes must be top-down.
- Encourages Employee Engagement: While top-level support is critical, widespread behavior change is grass-roots driven. Creating ways for employees to feel included will support your sustainability strategy and can lead to long-term employee retention.
- Company Positioning: Making bold commitments signals to the market that you’re willing to invest the time and resources needed to meet – and exceed – the demands of the market and expectations of all stakeholders. What’s more, being first to market with new sustainability strategies encourages additional innovation and ideation. In the end, customers won’t have to make a choice between being green and being fiscally responsible. It’s good for the bottom line and better for the environment.
We’re incredibly proud of the work we’ve accomplished at Ingersoll Rand, but we know there’s more to do. It’s crucial that we deliver on these bold commitments, work together with policymakers and other critical partners, and find opportunities to collaborate to advance and tackle the climate crisis. THAT is how we can help change the world for today and future generations.
Scott Tew is the executive director, center for energy efficiency & sustainability at Ingersoll Rand whose strategic brands include Trane and Thermo King. Since the CEES was formed in 2010, Ingersoll Rand has successfully met or exceeded its long-term goals in energy use and waste reduction, while embedding sustainability in all parts of the product development process. Tew manages all sustainability-related public transparency, advocacy, reporting, and goal setting initiatives for the company.