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Netflix Commits to Net Zero by 2022, Better Representation Onscreen and Off

Netflix’s new goals include achieving carbon neutrality by 2022. The company also revealed impressive stats behind viewer interest in sustainability-themed programming; and pledged to achieve more balanced representation of underrepresented communities, both on- and offscreen.

This week, Netflix announced ambitious sustainability goals, including achieving carbon neutrality by 2022. The streaming giant also revealed impressive stats behind viewer interest in sustainability-themed programming; and pledged to achieve more balanced representation across social and racial groups in the US, both on- and off-camera.

Dr. Emma Stewart — former Director at World Resources Institute and now Netflix’s inaugural Chief Sustainability Officer — detailed the streaming service’s ambitious plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2022. The company’s Net Zero + Nature plan involves three steps:

  • Step 1: REDUCE emissions — Netflix has committed to reduce its Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 45 percent by 2030.

  • Step 2: RETAIN existing carbon storage — By the end of 2021, Netflix commits to offset all of the emissions it can’t avoid internally, including Scope 3 emissions, by investing in carbon-offset projects that conserve critical biodiversity in areas such as tropical forests.

  • Step 3: REMOVE carbon from the atmosphere — By year-end 2022, the company has committed to achieving net zero through investment in the regeneration of critical natural ecosystems such as grasslands, mangroves, and healthy soils.

This approach buys us time to decarbonize our economy, while restoring these life support systems, Stewart says.

"Netflix is showing the world how to combine GHG reductions — black carbon — with restoring natural carbon sinks — green carbon — in a scientifically robust way. I'm inspired by the potential transformative change they can bring by exemplifying this both behind, and in front of, the camera." — Dr. Johan Rockström, part of Netflix’s expert advisory council and Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

Netflix says its strategy aligns with the latest guidance from Oxford University and achieve 10 out of 10 of the Science Based Targets initiative’s recommended guidelines.

Sustainable storytelling

Netflix also shared impressive engagement stats around its sustainability-themed content: In 2020, 160 million households around the world chose to watch at least one film or show on Netflix that centered around these issues — through stories that both entertain and deepen our appreciation for the planet, helping viewers better understand the issues and solutions around sustainability.

Along with continued promotion of environmental topics, Netflix says it is also prioritizing content that will challenge social prejudices and increase empathy and understanding while it entertains. Netflix says it’s also invested in broadening representation through its programming — onscreen, behind the camera and in the office. An independent analysis of the company’s US-commissioned films and series from 2018 to 2019 shows that Netflix has made progress year over year in this area, but acknowledges that it still has a long way to go. In its ESG report, the company says:

We recognize our progress is dependent on creating more opportunities for people from underrepresented communities to have their voices heard. So, we’ve focused on closing capacity and skill gaps with training programs where they are needed. In February, we announced the creation of the Netflix Fund for Creative Equity. We will invest USD $100 million over the next five years in a combination of external organizations with a strong track record of setting underrepresented communities up for success in the TV and film industries; as well as bespoke Netflix programs that will help us to identify, train and provide job placement for up-and-coming talent globally. The first $5 million will go towards programs that expand access for women — from workshops to train aspiring female writers and producers on how best to pitch their creative vision, to shadowing opportunities on productions that enable women to gain valuable firsthand experience.

Netflix says it will continue to report on its progress toward more balanced representation every two years, from now through 2026 — and look to do similar studies in its other markets around the world — with the hope of creating a benchmark for itself and the industry.

To dig deeper into the details and science behind Netflix’s strategies, read the company’s technical blog and its 2020 ESG report.