As further evidence of the global corporate momentum behind renewable energy, the RE100 initiative has reached 100 members, following new commitments from AkzoNobel, AXA, Burberry and Carlsberg Group to transition to 100 percent renewable power.
Driven by The Climate Group and CDP, as a part of the We Mean Business coalition, RE100 is a global collaborative initiative designed to accelerate the transformation of the global energy market and the transition toward a low-carbon economy by engaging and supporting influential businesses — including 30 Global Fortune 500 companies representing $2.5 trillion in revenue — transition to 100 percent renewable electricity across their global operations.
The addition of the four companies has allowed RE100 to realize its goal of obtaining 100 members three years ahead of schedule. The momentum is in part due to dropping prices for solar and wind power, which are now the same price as or cheaper than new fossil fuel capacity in more than 30 countries. Capacity from renewable sources is expected to grow faster than oil, gas, coal or nuclear power in the next five years and is likely to spur even more RE100 membership growth. Already, the initiative’s members are creating around 146 terrawatt-hours (TWh) in demand for renewable electricity annually — about as much energy as it takes to power Poland.
“We are increasingly seeing large multinationals such as Google, IKEA and Dalmia Cement demonstrating real leadership on renewables because it makes business sense — as well as helping to lower emissions, providing stable energy costs and increasing competitiveness,” said Helen Clarkson, CEO of The Climate Group.
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With renewables becoming the new norm, The Climate Group is now calling on companies to target energy practices further down the value chain.
“We are now calling on companies to go one step further and inspire their suppliers and peers to follow their lead so that together, we can speed the transition from fossil fuels to renewables to keep warming well under two degrees Celsius.”
“Transitioning to 100 percent renewable electricity through RE100 shows true leadership in our new sustainable economy,” added Paul Simpson, CEO of CDP. “It’s hugely encouraging that so many members are reporting clear progress — and fast. Following the vital steps of disclosure and insight on climate change activities, action is key to ensuring we move the global energy system to a tipping point by 2020.”
By joining RE100, AkzoNobel becomes the initiative’s second-largest electricity user after Walmart, consuming roughly 16 TWh annually. The Dutch paints and coatings company aims to be carbon-neutral and use 100 percent renewable energy for both heating and electricity by 2050.
French insurance company AXA has committed to achieving 100 percent renewable electricity by 2025. AXA intends to reach this goal by using a mix of approaches suited to the diverse energy markets in which it operates, notably buying electricity directly from providers and compensating for non-renewable electricity.
“In 2015, the portion of renewable electricity consumed by AXA was 36 percent and this increased to 53 percent in 2016. Our target is to have 100 percent of our electricity from renewable sources by 2025. When large companies like AXA switch to renewables, we are collectively creating significant new demand but also more broadly helping to accelerate the global transition to green energy. RE100 represents another opportunity to combine efforts to better tackle this important global issue,” said Alice Steenland, Group Head of Corporate Responsibility for AXA.
Luxury fashion label Burberry, which recently awarded £3 million to the Royal College of Art in London to drive sustainable textile research, has also committed to 100 percent renewables, a goal which it hopes to achieve by 2022. Carlsberg intends to switch to 100 percent renewable electricity at its breweries in a similar timeline in an effort to achieve its target of becoming carbon-neutral by 2030.
“Business leadership is key to addressing climate change, so we must all step up and take bold collective action. Through RE100, we are joining forces with other like-minded companies, which are also leading the change towards a low-carbon future,” said Carlsberg CEO Cees ‘t Hart. "Switching to 100 percent renewable electricity offers a holistic business case with financial, social and environmental benefits. Hopefully, together, we can inspire others to step up and do the same."