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Seventh Generation Launches Comprehensive Framework for Calculating Corporate Climate Impacts

“We seek to push the practice of corporate environmental reporting dramatically forward and advance a far more complete vision of authentic climate leadership free of finger-pointing. We consider this report a summons to arms and a call to action both swift and sweeping.” — Chief Impact Officer Ashley Orgain

Recognizing that traditional CSR reporting is incomplete, out of date and does not fully account for business decisions that have significant impact on the climate crisis, leading household and personal care company Seventh Generation today launched its Climate Fingerprints report, which showcases a new framework and approach to comprehensively measuring corporate climate impact.

“Businesses continue to churn out the same commitments and climate reports that do not meet the urgency of the moment,” said Alison Whritenour, CEO of Seventh Generation. “Historical approaches to climate reporting, including our own, have missed the broader picture; and we are proud to usher in the next generation of climate leadership through the launch of the Climate Fingerprint framework.”

In 2004, Seventh Generation pioneered radical transparency in CSR reporting with the launch of its first Corporate Consciousness Report. The 2021 Climate Fingerprints report marks the next evolution in the company’s communication and sustainability leadership by introducing a groundbreaking methodology that will serve as a guidepost for where Seventh Generation focuses its next level of corporate action and, with the help of partners and other industry players, drive meaningful change.

The Climate Fingerprints framework goes above and beyond individual business operations to factor in the impact of all areas where the company has influence and invests resources — including banking, marketing, insurance, investments, advocacy, philanthropy, tax dollars and corporate governance, for the betterment of society and the world we live. Simply put, this approach acknowledges the impact that corporate cash has on supporting the fossil fuel industry and follows the money to understand how to better drive change and measure Seventh Generation’s impact on the environment beyond its traditional metrics.

“Every dollar a company spends can either support an economic system that extends our dependence on fossil fuels while destabilizing the climate, or can help to speed the transition to a just, renewable-energy economy,” said Chief Impact Officer Ashley Orgain. “Just like our products, each of these systems comes with a price paid in atmospheric carbon. Understanding it is perhaps the final frontier in our quest to be a ‘real zero’ business. We consider this report a summons to arms and a call to action.”

As the company asserts in the report, for years corporations have honed the practice of ‘carbon footprinting’ — determining the total greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) caused by an individual, organization, service or product. But, considering the snail’s pace at which we’re making progress towards the urgent goal of keeping global temperature change below 1.5°C, this is no longer enough.

So, this year, Seventh Gen sought to understand the broader impacts of its business activities. As explained in the report:

“Every year, we funnel millions of dollars into ancillary services to support our business operations, such as financial, insurance and creative services. We pay taxes. We use our money to fund advocacy and philanthropic efforts. How do the dollars we spend on these services and efforts contribute to a climate fingerprint attributable to Seventh Generation?

“For the quantitative analysis, we calculated the Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions of our business activities using the boundaries set forth by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol standard, as we have done for years. With guidance from our partners at The Outdoor Policy Outfit, we also estimated the carbon fingerprint generated by our corporate investments and cash (i.e., money held by our — Unilever’s — banking partners). For the qualitative analysis, we drew from frameworks from Project Drawdown, The Sunrise Project, Clean Creatives, Influence Map, Ceres and others to create a matrix of climate impact best practices — including transparency, commitments, business integration and leadership. We then used publicly available data — and in some cases, our own survey data — to evaluate the climate performance of each of our service providers on a lagging, progressing, leading scale.

“We do not intend to shame our partners (we will not disclose names). Rather, our goals are to identify hotspots and to change the model for what it means to take meaningful corporate climate action. This is a first attempt and there will undoubtedly be things we’ve missed or better approaches. But we also know that we will no longer be complicit in amplifying the voice and power of fossil fuel-related companies.”

Report highlights include:

  • Progress against Seventh Generation’s 2030 Science Based Target: Reduce absolute greenhouse gas emissions 90 percent from 2012 base year

  • Its ambition and target to convert all of its manufacturing partners and vendors to renewable energy and green power.

  • A methodology developed by the Carbon Bankroll Initiative to calculate the financed emissions of Seventh Generation’s cash, approximately = 9,700 MT/CO2e.

The Climate Fingerprints report also uses a strong equity lens, centering on communities who have been adversely impacted the most and longest by the climate crisis. Seventh Generation says its strategies and action plans will be developed through a just and equitable lens, using the Climate Fingerprint approach as the foundation.

As Orgain sums up in the report: “We seek to push the practice of corporate environmental reporting dramatically forward and advance a far more complete vision of authentic climate leadership free of finger-pointing. In that critical sense, we consider this report a summons to arms and a call to action both swift and sweeping. It is the blueprint for a cooler world. And we issue the challenge it contains to our stakeholders and our fellow businesses alike with all the haste we have.”