Barry Parkin: On Earth Day - Thoughts from Mars on Climate Change

By Barry Parkin, Chief Sustainability Officer, Mars, Incorporated

On Earth Day this year (April 22nd), activists, educators, influencers and industries are called on to use education to engage citizens in the concepts of climate change – and raise awareness of the immense threat it poses to our planet and its people.


Earth Day 2017 comes exactly a year after 175 countries signed the Paris Agreement on climate change. One of the most critical and long term challenges the world has ever faced.


On this important day, we wanted to reflect on the journey we are on to help turn this agreement into reality and share some of the lessons we’ve learned along the way.


Follow the science and set the “right”  targets

We have learned that when setting targets, it’s really important to use the science to set the target – in this case the greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction we need to make to ensure we do our part to limit the warming of the planet. We’ve found this moved us away from a discussion around what is possible - to a fact based discussion about what is necessary.


This  ambitious long term target then gave us  the push we needed to come up with new ideas and strategies - such as moving beyond on-site renewable energy projects to investing in large offsite wind energy projects. So far we have three projects in the US, UK and Mexico and expect to roll this approach out to all the countries we operate in around the world. The economics of running these projects is already better than those of fossil fuel based projects – and will only improve in the future.


Activate your best assets – your employees

When we started on this journey, we took our Associates (that’s what we call our employees) with us and their engagement and commitment to our goals has supported us every step of the way. We set energy efficiency targets for every one of our 140+ factories around the world and we quickly found thousands of Associates getting involved in projects on their own sites. Their enthusiasm and creativity has delivered great progress – reducing our GHG emmissions, saving us money and really engaging our people.


Collaborate and learn from others

The world can only tackle climate change if everyone works on this and does their part. We are always seeking to collaborate and learn from others in industry and government. We’ve been inspired by what others are doing and it’s amazing to see that the number of companies that have signed up to be part of RE100 – to be supplied by 100% renewable electricity - has grown from three to 89 in just three years. We’ve also worked with the heads of the world’s leading consumer companies through the Consumer Goods Forum to commit to stopping deforestation which is a major driver of climate change..


Make your voice heard

Tackling climate change is crucial for the prosperity and survival of the human race. It’s bigger than business. But as a global corporation we do have a responsibility to push for decisive action. We can and will continue to advocate for sustainable practices and policies. This led us to sign a letter with 1000 other businesses under the name Low Carbon USA and investors to the U.S. President asking him not to abandon the Paris pledges and to invest in the low carbon economy. And we will continue to use our voice to speak to our consumers, to bring them on the journey with us. Climate change and deforestation are serious threats and it’s vital that global businesses, like Mars, do their bit to face them down. 

Editor's Note:

This article first appeared on Huffington Post and is reposted with the permission of the author.


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