By Scott Tew, Executive Director, Center for Energy Efficiency and Sustainability, Ingersoll Rand (future Trane Technologies)
The need for urgent climate action is more evident than ever before. The world continues to urbanize while becoming warmer and more resource-constrained. Unpredictable weather patterns and an increase in the number, duration and severity of heatwaves can be seen across the globe. Things like natural ecosystems, infrastructures and food security are changing and more are at risk. Today’s carbon emissions must be halved by 2030 to avoid a global temperature increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius. Because of this, combating climate change is increasingly on the agenda of the world’s greatest gatherings and conferences, and on the minds of asset managers and investors.
People around the world have started making changes—both small and large—to counteract the negative impacts, and emerging leaders are growing more vocal about the changes they expect to see the rest of the world make.
Corporations, in the meantime, tend to be slower in making operational changes toward sustainability. And there are a few reasons why. It requires substantial financial and time investment with sweeping behavior changes that involve the support of the most senior executives and stakeholders to truly succeed. But as we approach the no-return temperature rise of 1.5° C above pre-industrial levels, corporations – particularly those with solutions that can move the needle – must step up to lead. This priority is a driving force behind our participation in the Climate Leadership Conference.
Building an effective sustainability program can be overwhelming for any company. It helps to think of sustainability in terms of environmental, social and governance issues.
For us at Ingersoll Rand (future Trane Technologies), sustainability is at the center of our strategy and influences how we make every decision. This focus helps establish our culture and guides how we view innovation, engagement and our role in solving some of the world’s greatest challenges. Our Trane business heats, cools and automates homes and buildings, and our Thermo King business keeps transported food and perishables safe and fresh. We are in a unique position to address major environmental and sustainability challenges and our 2030 ESG commitments are driving us further to take a leadership role as we work towards a more sustainable future.
We’ve learned a few best practices along the way and in order for a company to truly take a stance on sustainability, it must start internally and by making bold climate commitments. We’ve also learned it will require the participation and support of leadership, employee engagement and that it can position your company as a leader in the marketplace as you help address big challenges.
- Inspiring Participation and Support from Leadership – No great initiative can be successful without the support of the executive team or the board. These types of cultural changes must be top down.
- Align Sustainability Goals with Strategic Business Objectives – Analyze which issues are most important to your organization and which issues have greatest impact. A robust materiality analysis which covers the entire value chain is generally the way to accomplish this.
- Encourages Employee Engagement – While top-level support is critical, widespread behavior change is grass-roots driven. Creating ways for employees to feel included will support your sustainability strategy and can lead to long-term employee retention.
- Company Positioning – Making bold commitments signals to the market that you’re willing to invest the time and resources needed to meet – and exceed – the demands of the market and expectations of all stakeholders. What’s more, being first to market with new sustainability strategies encourages additional innovation and ideation. In the end, customers won’t have to make a choice between being green and being fiscally responsible. It’s good for the bottom line and better for the environment.
We know there is more work to do and it’s crucial that we deliver on our bold commitments, work together with policy makers and other critical partners, and find opportunities to collaborate to advance and tackle the climate crisis. THAT is how we can help change the world for today and future generations.
Ingersoll Rand (future Trane Technologies) is a Bronze Sponsor for the 2020 Climate Leadership Conference.