Nine more giant corporations, including Nike and Walmart, pledged to transition to 100 percent renewable energy Wednesday. The announcement, made during Climate Week, is intended to show international governments that there is broad-based business support for going off fossil fuels in advance of the United Nations climate talks in December.
Goldman Sachs, Johnson & Johnson, Proctor & Gamble, Salesforce, Starbucks, Steelcase, and Voya Financial also took the RE100 pledge, organized by the Climate Group, an international sustainability non-profit.
“Research shows that the most ambitious companies have seen a 27 percent return on their low carbon investments,” Mark Kenber, CEO of the Climate Group, said in a statement. “Today these companies are signaling loud and clear to COP21 negotiators that forward-thinking businesses back renewables and want to see a strong climate deal in Paris.”
Swiss bank UBS joined the pledge last week. In total, 36 companies have joined RE100 since it was launched at Climate Week last year.
Some of the companies are also part of a White House initiative for sustainability investment announced in July. Those companies, which include Goldman Sachs and Walmart, will invest $140 billion in new low-carbon investment and build more than 1,600 megawatts (MW) of new renewable energy capacity.
The RE100 goals are non-binding, but in the pledge companies agree to release information about their sustainability efforts. And some companies have set specific benchmarks. For instance, Goldman Sachs says it will use 100 percent renewable energy by 2020. Johnson & Johnson has set a goal of 2050. Nike seeks to transition by 2025, and Voya International by 2015.
One company in Wednesday’s announcement, Steelcase, is already operating with 100 percent renewable electricity. Part of the goal of the RE100 initiative, though, is not just to change behaviour for the companies involved, but also to draw attention to companies that are committed to renewable energy.
“For Steelcase, joining RE100 is a reflection of our ongoing commitment to renewable energy,” Jim Keane, the company’s president and CEO said. “Our current investment in renewables equaling 100 percent of our global electricity use is an important part of our energy strategy.”