Apr 28, 2021

PepsiCo, Visa among 52 firms joining Amazon’s Climate Pledge

Kate Birch
3 min
Another 52 companies join Amazon’s Climate Pledge, bringing the total to 105 which together generate more than $1.4 trillion in global annual revenues
Another 52 companies join Amazon’s Climate Pledge, bringing the total to 105 which together generate more than $1.4 trillion in global annual revenues...

Following on from 20 new signatories announced mid-February, a further 52 organisations have jointed The Climate Pledge, a commitment co-founded by Amazon and Global Optimism in 2019 to reach the Paris Agreement 10 years early and to be net-zero carbon 2040.

The Climate Pledge passes the 100 milestone

These 52 new signatories, which include multinational giants such as Visa, PepsiCo, Colgate-Palmolive and Heineken, join 53 organisations who have previously joined, including big names such as Microsoft, Unilever, Uber, Mercedes-Benz, Siemens and Verizon, marking a major milestone for The Climate Pledge, having reached more than 100 pledges (105 signatories) in less than two years.

“We are proud to stand with other signatories to use our scale to decarbonise the economy through real business change and innovation,” says Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder. 

Not only do these 105 organisations span 16 countries and across 25 industries, from finance and food, to aviation, healthcare, tech and telecoms, but together they generate more than US$1.4 trillion in global annual revenues and have more than 5 million employees, demonstrating the collective impact The Climate Pledge can have in addressing climate change. 

As one of the largest telephone operators and mobile network providers in the world, Telefonica, whose energy and climate change strategy centres on mitigating its impact, leveraging new opportunities and evolving to address climate risks, has signed upto reinforce its “commitment to sustainability, says Elena Valderrabano, global director for sustainability. While PepsiCo, which is focuwed on sustainable agriculture and eliminating plastic waste, believes that “at a time when the world is struggling to recover from the shock of a global pandemic, shared solutions to share challenges are essential”. 

Commitment to improving on the Paris Agreement

The 52 new signatories have committed to working toward net-zero carbon in their worldwide businesses by 2040, an ambitious goal that meets the Paris Agreement 10 years early, and which in aggregate has the potential to significantly reduce corporate carbon emissions. All organisations are taking science-based high-impact actions to tackle climate change by innovating in supply chain efficiency, sustainable transportation, circular economy, clean energy solutions, and more. Many are involving customers in their journeys to net-zero with initiatives focused on everything from innovative packaging to sustainable product development. 

Signatories to The Climate Pledge agree to:

● Measure and report greenhouse gas emissions on a regular basis.

● Implement decarbonization strategies in line with the Paris Agreement through real business changes and innovations, including efficiency improvements, renewable energy, materials reductions, and other carbon emission elimination strategies.

● Neutralize any remaining emissions with additional, quantifiable, real, permanent, and socially-beneficial offsets to achieve net-zero annual carbon emissions by 2040 — a decade ahead of the Paris Agreement’s goal of 2050.

So who are the new 52 signatories?

Among the 52 companies that have recently signed up to The Climate Pledge are: AECOM, Alska Airlines, Airmee, Atlantia, Bellrock Group, Blacklane, Colgate-Palmolive, Convoy, Delphis Eco, Direct Healthcare Solutions, Edmonton International Airport, Elisa Corporation, EV Private Equity, FILA Solutions, Graebel, Greencore Group, Heineken, HH Global, IGS Energy, IMI, Inn at Laurel Point, Karma Automotive, LeasePlan, LifeStraw, Lil Packaging, Lime, Mace Group, Morgan Sindall Group, Natural Capital Partners, Optimus Ride, PepsiCo, Pollination, Portland General Electric, Posti, Pregis, Protector Cellars, Quorn Foods, Rail Delivery Group, Royal Philips, Russell Group, Sainsbury’s, SecuriGroup, Sonnedix, Springer Nature Group, Storegga Geotechnologies, STV Group, Telefonica, Teleperformance, The Sustainable City, Urenco, UST, Visa. 

Share article

Jun 4, 2021

Charting the rise of the chief sustainability officer

Kate Birch
4 min
Fortune 500 companies hired more chief sustainability officers in 2020 than in the previous three years combined. Business Chief charts the rise of the CSO

There has been a dramatic increase in the hiring of the chief sustainability officer (CSO) role among Fortune 500 companies, with demand for CSOs growing 228% in corporate America over the last decade, according to the latest report from CSO recruitment firm the Weinreb Group.

There were more first-time CSOs recruited by Fortune 500 companies in 2020 than the previous three years combined, with numbers of CSOs in corporate America soaring from just 29 in 2011 to 95 today, demonstrating the importance corporations are placing not just on reducing their environmental impacts, but also in supporting issues of social justice.

Businesses are increasingly under pressure to assume more responsible practices with customers, regulators and investors demanding increased transparency of business ESG performance.

And the past year in particular has been seen great upheaval, with increased new attention brought to “social justice, climate change, and an ever-widening political divide”, according to Ellen Weinreb, founder and CEO of the Weinreb Group, which has tracked the rising role of CSOs over the past decade.

CSO role is expanding and shifting

But it’s not just the number of CSOs that have changed, sustainability teams are getting bigger, with the average team size increasing from five professionals in 2011 to 15 today, according to the report. 

This is in part due to the fact that the CSO role has expanded beyond simply ‘sustainability’ to incorporate social justice too. Sustainability isn’t exclusively about the environment anymore. The role has also come to incorporate social justice, especially with the rapid growth of, and increased attention on, environmental, social, and governance, or ESG.

And many roles recently have been renamed as such with Head of ESG or ESG Officer becoming increasingly prominent.

Women make up over half of CSO roles

What's also changed over the last decade is the percentage of women holding the title of Chief Sustainability Officer.

A decade ago, in 2011, the majority of CSO roles were held by men (72%), with just 10 of the 29 then CSO roles held by women. A decade on, in 2021, the percentage of women in CSO roles has almost doubled, now accounting for more than half (54%) of CSO positions.

However, according to the report ‘The Chief Sustainability Officer 10 Years Later’, despite the movement toward gender balance within the role and its expanded focus on social justice, in particular, in 2021 the CSO position remains overwhelmingly ‘white’.

Probably not surprising considering there are just three black CEOs at Fortune 500 firms.

How the chief sustainability officer role has grown

The first-ever named chief sustainability officer in a US publicly traded company was Linda Fisher for Dupont, who joined the chemical giant in 2004 as CSO, just at the time when innovative companies were looking at sustainability as a driver for business growth. Joining from the Environmental Protection Agency where she spent 13 years, Fisher was a corporate sustainability trailblazer, spending more than a decade as CSO here, and leading DuPont’s efforts to establish its first set of market-facing sustainability goals.

By 2006, a slew of firms had joined the CSO movement, including Mastercard, Nissan and Microsoft; and Kellogg’s became the first firm to replace a CSO with Dianne Holdorf taking over from Celeste Clarke. And by 2011, a decade ago, Coca-Cola, Verizon, AT&T and P&G had appointed their first CSOs.

In fact, it was in 2011 when Virginie Helias invented her idea of the perfect CSO job – to make sustainable consumption not only possible, but ‘irresistible’ – and pitched it P&G’s then CEO. A decade later, in 2021, and Helias is still in the job she first created.

The majority of CSOs have been internal hires, such as Peter Graf of SAP, who joined the software giant in 1996, and served as EVP for Marketing before being named CSO in 2009. The same is true at UPS, whose first-ever CSO, Scott Wicker, started at the package delivery giant 34 years before being named CSO in 2011. Increasingly, however, external hires are being made with organisations increasingly searching for more high-profile leading voices in the ESG forum.

In February 2021, JP Morgan hired former British high-profile Labour politician Chuka Umunna while just last month hotel chain Accor hired high-profile French politician Brune Poirson, who has previously championed the anti-waste law within the French government and was secretary of state for the environmental transition for three years.  


Share article