Late last year, world leaders gathered in Paris to lay out plans to make progress on reducing the world's global climate footprint. We also saw a fresh round of businesses sign on to the American Business Act on Climate Pledge, which is an ambitious initiative by some of the world's largest companies to, among other commitments, cut emissions in half and deploy more clean energy. While setting ambitious targets is a strong first step for business to take climate action, companies must put tangible plans in place to make these targets a reality. Addressing climate change is everyone's responsibility and companies can play a role in leading the way to a more sustainable future, and partnerships with NGOs will be critical for success. Nestlé Waters North America has realized that one critical factor to achieving these goals is to work across different sectors, including tapping into the expertise and support offered by NGOs. NGOs can help companies find targeted solutions that help companies meet their goals and create a win for the planet. This past summer the company worked with the Environmental Defense Fund's (EDF) Climate Corps program to develop a plan to help implement Nestlé's global commitment to use 100% renewable energy here in the United States. The EDF program – which embeds trained graduate students into companies to help them accelerate clean energy projects and meet their corporate energy goals – was launched eight years ago. Since then, the program has helped identify $1.5 billion dollars in energy savings for major corporations and organizations. Fellows offer hands-on help for challenging energy-related business problems, while providing companies with a fresh perspective and new ideas. Although the company had made progress towards achieving its ambitious renewables goal, it found that navigating the complexity of the renewable power purchasing agreement process in the United States would take additional expert resources. In the summer of 2015, an EDF fellow worked with Nestlé Waters North America to explore several renewable opportunities that could reduce the company's operational costs and the environmental impact of the company's supply chain. By implementing these plans and switching to renewable power at two of its bottled water facilities, Nestlé Waters North America could save thousands of dollars per year in energy costs, while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions by about 42,000 tons per year. The company is now exploring renewable energy opportunities to power all operations in the United States. The power of partnership, whether with an NGO like EDF or with other external experts, can fill gaps in expertise and empower companies to meet international climate goals through the acceleration of clean energy projects. As we move toward the future, where more companies will be accelerating the transition to a low-carbon economy, these partnerships will be critical for turning plans into action.
Liz Delaney is the program director for EDF Climate Corps a program that embeds trained graduate students in organizations to help meet theirenergy goals by accelerating clean energy projects in their facilities. By working with over 350 organizations in the public and private sector (including 1 in 3 Fortune 100 companies), EDF Climate Corps has uncovered nearly $1.5 billion in energy savings — improving the organization's bottom line and environmental impact at the same time.
Debora Fillis Ryba is the Senior Sustainability Manager at Nestlé Waters North America. She scales sustainable practices through partnering and integrating sustainability into the company's operations, culture and brands. Debora's background includes water science and policy, environmental planning and community development.