Companies Like Ours are Stepping Up to Fight Climate Change — Government Should Too

In addition to re-imagining our own supply chain, Nestlé is calling for a carbon pricing system and a modern energy grid

Molly Fogarty
Apr 10, 2019 · 5 min read

Today, climate change and its impacts might feel abstract, distant, or hard to comprehend.

To Nestlé, it’s become all too clear that climate change is not abstract; nor are its impacts distant. Extreme weather patterns affect crop yields, water availability, and infrastructure integrity. This impacts our farmers, suppliers, and distributors up and down the supply chain, alongside our consumers. We remain committed to using clean energy to reduce our carbon footprint, but the nation’s current systems and infrastructure are not able to support our ambition to strive for zero environmental impact in our operations by 2030. These challenges are holding back efforts and innovation to build capacity and scale up clean energy practices, for us and for companies like us. Without stable supply lines and robust and competitive energy markets, Nestlé and our peers are essentially writing business plans using disappearing ink. That’s no way to sustain a business, serve consumers and communities, or grow the U.S. economy.

Without federal and state action, businesses will find it increasingly challenging to meet the goals they have set to reduce their carbon footprints. This is why Nestlé, as a founding member of the Sustainable Policy Food Alliance (SPFA), is standing with our Alliance partners to advocate for better climate policies. A national carbon pricing system and a modern infrastructure will support a competitive energy market. The groundswell for action within the business community is filling the vacuum created in Washington, where climate change is another scuffle on a political battlefield. We have to move beyond debate to action. This is happening in the business world, where companies measure the bottom line in red and black, not red and blue. The members of the SPFA believe these six just-released guiding principles can help move our industry and the country in the right direction.

We know we need to tackle carbon, and we know that from a business perspective, a developed market is a must. Unless companies can measure and value carbon, we’ll have no way to meaningfully reduce economy-wide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions aligned with science-based targets.

We need innovation at federal and state levels to develop more sustainable energy sources. Companies are limited by federal rules and a lack of competition in the marketplace. We need new pathways for clean energy use and procurement from coast to coast.

The land sector must be a part of any strategy to reduce emissions and sequester GHGs from the atmosphere to meet global and national targets. Nestlé and our Alliance partners are looking at the extended supply chain — end to end — to do our part. Farmers can enter new markets while playing a major role in contributing vital solutions.

The United States is in need of modernizing the electricity grid — a smarter grid could monitor and respond to the changing habits of customers, who increasingly demand more locally produced clean energy. A modernized, resilient, and reliable grid is also necessary to support a 21st-century economy that relies upon high quality electricity.

Every person and every community should have access to affordable, clean resources. The country must invest in American workers and in disadvantaged communities to manage the costs of climate change, including rising energy costs.

The country needs an economy-wide federal regulatory approach with a suite of complementary policies that work together to reduce domestic emissions. Every business needs to be able to plan and invest for the long-term, and that consistency can help us all make better long-term decisions to support a strong future for the planet and for our economy.

These principles align with the values that have defined Nestlé since our founding. As a company with 150-plus years behind us and an exciting future before us, we take a long-term view. Smart for business and smart for the environment is who we are. Nestlé’s investment in sustainability is reflected in how we think and what we do, from our innovation in environmentally friendly packaging, to our partnerships with farmers worldwide to ensure responsible sourcing, to the relentless efforts to conserve water and preserve energy at our facilities.

Our successful water conservation efforts at our Carnation evaporated milk factory in Modesto, California, and our 15-year partnership with an Indiana wind farm to supply electricity to five of our factories in southeastern Pennsylvania are two recent examples of our many capital investments in this space. Nestlé’s support of the Paris Accord as well as our backing of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan to regulate GHG emissions underscores our support for ambitious common goals, and our unwavering commitment to tackling climate change in our operations and value chain.

To move the needle on climate change, the country needs an economy wide approach that appropriately balances Federal and State authority with a clear focus on working together to reduce domestic emissions. Clarity in our regulatory environment would allow Nestlé and scores of other companies and communities to go further, faster and achieve an ambitious sustainability agenda. Even as large players in the energy market, we still must rely on patchwork agreements to use renewables in our facilities and our factories.

Nestlé and our Alliance partners are stepping forward now because government isn’t moving fast enough, and we know we can’t wait to fill the gap. We regret that instead of a thoughtful discussion in which science informs government policy, we have a political stalemate in which the rhetoric has heated up on pace with our planet. We are hopeful that these principles will become stepping stones toward progress that transcends the politics of the day and ignites a more productive conversation about tomorrow. There is much at stake.

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