Dialogue on climate change is challenged by the gap between scientific consensus and public opinion. To help better understand why people reject climate change, in May, the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise at Michigan convened a meeting of social and climate scientists, business leaders, politicians, faith leaders and communicators. The group looked at the range of public opinion on climate change, including the “Six Americas” identified by Yale and George Mason University researchers, which range from the “Dismissives” to the “Alarmed.”
As noted in the May meeting referenced above, despite the range of opinions, there is scientific consensus. The U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the world’s leading scientific societies, and the overwhelming majority of climate scientists agree that manmade impact is changing the climate, mainly by burning fossil fuels and clearing forests.
Avon’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and reducing our role in the risk of climate change dates back almost two decades. In 1994, Avon formally partnered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and evaluated the energy efficiency of our U.S. buildings as part of the Green Lights program. Many manufacturing plants and distribution centers were retrofitted with energy-efficient lighting, thereby decreasing electricity consumption and carbon emissions. But it takes more than changing light bulbs to help save the planet, so Avon has been tackling climate change on two fronts: further reducing our carbon footprint and helping restore critically endangered tropical forests.
As reported in our Corporate Responsibility Report, Avon aspires to achieve zero emission in manufacturing and distribution by using 100% clean energy. On this journey we have instituted many initiatives that significantly reduced GHG emissions from our 2005 baseline in per unit (26% reduction) and absolute levels (nearly 14%). We are especially proud that global manufacturing exceeded 2012 goals in 2008 and new targets were set. We remain focused on reducing energy usage worldwide, and have achieved 11% total energy reduction in 2011 over 2005 baseline, and 20% per unit reduction.
Helping drive these efforts is the Avon Green Building Promise, which commits to LEED certified (or equivalent) in all new construction and major renovations. Although we are a direct selling company, Avon’s real estate portfolio is vast, so the potential impact is significant. Recently, energy requirements at two of Avon’s newest and largest distribution centers were reduced approximately 30% by following LEED standards.
Avon is also helping to restore critically endangered tropical forests, which are the “lungs of the earth.” Trees absorb carbon dioxide in the environment and have a critical role in combating climate change. Since 2010 the Avon Hello Green Tomorrow project has been raising funds to help restore tropical forests in Indonesia and Brazil, and through midyear 2012 nearly $4 million has been generated and thousands of acres have been restored.
To help drive broader change in the U.S., Avon is a member of Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy (BICEP), an advocacy coalition of businesses working with policy makers.
There is much more to be done, and we will continue to focus on the efforts, not the arguments.