RE100 campaign picks up speed as Fortune 500 firms pledge to use 100% renewable energy

A roster of corporate heavyweights have joined Swiss Re's drive to use renewable energy.

Goldman Sachs, Johnson & Johnson, Nestle, NIKE Inc., Procter and Gamble, Salesforce, Starbucks, Steelcase, Walmart and UBS are now all part of RE100, an ambitious global campaign led by The Climate Group to engage and support businesses committed to using 100% renewable electricity. Swiss Re and Ikea were the co-founding corporates of the initiative, which launched at Climate Week NYC 2014.

Since then, momentum behind RE100 has grown globally in the last year, with 36 major businesses around the world joining the campaign.

With December's COP21/CMP11 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris fast approaching, this announcement sends a timely reminder to policy makers and regulators that leading global corporations, including Swiss Re, are demanding strong climate change action from governments, while pledging to source 100% of their electricity from renewable energy in order to reduce CO₂ emissions.

"We're pleased to have so many big-name firms joining RE100 in advance of the UN conference," says Mark Way, Head Sustainability Americas Hub. "It's clear that the commitment of the corporate world to renewable energy is gaining momentum globally."

Reducing the corporate carbon footprint

Addressing the issue of climate change has been a strategic priority for Swiss Re for more than 25 years. Its Greenhouse Neutral Programme, launched in 2003 and achieved in 2007, committed the company to achieving carbon neutrality. This process involved three steps: Make its operations as energy efficient as possible, source as much energy as possible from renewable sources and fully offset all remaining emissions by purchasing high-quality emission reduction certificates, thus making the company greenhouse neutral.

The Programme, the first phase of which ended in 2013, is viewed as a resounding success. However, it represents only one of the many ways Swiss Re has reduced its carbon footprint. Other efforts include increasing the efficiency of its operations worldwide and enhancing its commitment to green electricity—all of which have led to a substantial reduction in emissions. Swiss Re views its engagement with RE100 as another way to invigorate this long-term commitment.

Transitioning to a low-carbon economy across the globe

RE100 strives to help businesses on their journey to 100% renewable power through peer-to-peer learning to develop strategies for generating renewable power, providing advice and guidance for best practices for selecting renewable power options and accounting for and reporting on the achievements.

More importantly, it will continue its three-year rollout engagement strategy to countries such as China, India, Brazil and South Africa and approach policy makers and regulators at the national and sub-national levels to help introduce the concept of renewable power to as many regions as possible.

Engaging employees on the importance of renewable energy

In addition to its effort to reduce greenhouse emissions, Swiss Re continues to engage employees on its commitment to reducing emissions with its "COyou2 reduce and gain" Programme. With this initiative, Swiss Re subsidizes low-carbon investments made by employees of up to CHF 5000 or the equivalent in a local currency. Eligible investments include public transport passes, low-emissions vehicles (eg, plug-in hybrid or electric) and the installation of solar panels and heat pumps.

Published 29 October 2015

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