I’ve already documented Nike’s previous steps such as lobbying for aggressive climate legislation, and leaving the Chamber of Commerce Board over its poor positions on climate change. Now, Nike is taking it one step further, and abandoning buying carbon offsets and RECS(renewable energy certificates) in favor of actual emissions reductions. You can check out the news of this in the NY Times blog here, as well as Nike’s new report on corporate responsibility, which highlights the progress the company has made, and identifying areas where it needs to improve.
From the NY Times:
“In an introduction to the report, Mark Parker, Nike’s president and chief executive, said the company had “finally figured out” it could use its knack for design and innovation to bring about environmental, labor and social change.
“We opened the aperture of our lens and discovered our potential to have a positive influence on waste reduction, climate change, managing natural resources, renewable energy and factory conditions,” he said.
Among other achievements, the report noted that in the fiscal year 2009, Nike reduced its overall greenhouse gas emissions across its supply chain to 2007 levels. It also says a program begun in 2008 to improve energy efficiency at manufacturing facilities reduced carbon emissions by 6 percent, even though production at the factories increased by 9 percent.
But Nike also reported that it had stopped purchasing carbon offsets to counter emissions generated by employee air travel and that it was moving away from buying renewable energy certificates to compensate for use of fossil-fuel generated electricity at its own facilities — practices it considered temporary and difficult to verify.
Offsets have come under scrutiny of late, and some question whether renewable energy certificates – which are supposed to stimulate the creation of new renewable energy projects – are simply a payment to a project that would have occurred anyway.
“Rather than purchase renewable energy certificates to achieve climate neutrality, which have become increasingly controversial,” the report stated, “we believe it is more meaningful to invest in energy efficiency and in distributed energy projects that reduce our reliance on grid energy and help stabilize energy costs for the long term.”
As for air travel, in place of buying offsets, the company is investing heavily in teleconferencing technologies that will decrease the need for travel and save money.
“We have begun using these technologies across the business and have seen not only reduced travel but also better product quality, and quicker and better decision making,” said Kate Meyers, a Nike spokeswoman.
Along with other companies, Nike is advocating for climate energy legislationthat will reward large-scale investments in carbon reduction. The company argues that “the lack of a market price for carbon has limited its ability to access and deploy clean energy across our operations.”