Charities make requests for matching pledges all the time, so why not a climate action newsletter?
Thank you from 30 Days of Climate Action for your generous climate pledge. Does your employer match climate actions? To seek an employer match—and multiply your impact—provide your company with the following information about your pledge:
You reduced food waste (see day 3)
You started eating more plants (see day 8)
You switched to clean electricity (see day 11)
Imagine the impact your company could have by implementing climate solutions into its business operations, its products or services, its 401k program and so on. With one in three Americans now “alarmed” by the climate crisis, chances are high that at least some of your coworkers would be interested in working together to urge your employer to take climate action.
Big Tech workers who pushed for change
In this letter, Googlers urged the company to cut emissions and to sever ties with fossil fuel companies, climate change deniers and ICE. In this letter, Microsoft employees made similar demands. The pressure played a role in each company making climate pledges. The Wall Street Journal called what ensued among Big Tech and others industry leaders a “corporate climate-pledge race.”
The pledge that made the biggest news came from Amazon. Back in 2018, workers formed the group Amazon Employees for Climate Justice and wrote an open letter to Jeff Bezos and the Amazon Board, imploring them to take bold action on climate, with demands similar to those of Google and Microsoft workers.
Eventually, Amazon took action (unfortunately it first fired two of the organizers, one of whom said she had no regrets and would do it all again). In fall of 2019, Amazon cofounded The Climate Pledge, a commitment to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2040, 10 years earlier than the Paris Agreement. In 2020, Amazon also launched the $2 billion Climate Pledge Fund, a VC fund to invest in companies creating solutions to transition the world to a low-carbon economy. Also in 2020, Jeff Bezos created the Bezos Earth Fund and pledged $10 billion.
Since Amazon signed the pledge, 216 other companies have also signed on, including the likes of Procter & Gamble, HP, Uber, Nespresso, and Salesforce. According to this Forbes article, if the signatories meet their targets, they will cut 5.4 percent of the world’s global emissions, based on 2020 measurements.
Although that reduction in emissions alone won’t solve climate change, and I do wish Bezos would both pay more taxes and stop sending his rocket up into the atmosphere, this is progress. And Amazon employees initiated it.
If you don’t work for a company
So while this is positive news about companies taking action, according to Bill Weihl, former head of sustainability at Google and later Facebook, by focusing on their own operations only, these powerful companies miss out on the opportunity to push for change in public policy—what we need most. Weihl founded ClimateVoice in order to help employees push companies to advocate for climate legislation. The organization also calls for Big Tech to spend one of every five lobbying dollars on lobbying for climate policy.
You may not have a boss or company to motivate but you might know someone who does. Last month, I took part in an hour of action with my 350 group and ClimateVoice. We searched LinkedIn for our connections who work at big companies listed in ClimateVoice’s Corporate Scorecard and sent them messages. We asked them to tell their employers, via tweet, to support the Build Back Better Act. (The ClimateVoice scorecard populates the tweets, so tweeting requires just a click.) I live in Silicon Valley, so even though I have never worked at one of the big tech companies (or even a little tech company), I know people who do.
If you’d like to try this very easy-to-do action, first go here to find scorecards for various corporate giants, such as 3M, Apple, Google, HP, McDonald’s, Walmart and so on. Next, on Linkedin, go to your network connections and use the filters to search for connections in the company you’ve chosen from the scorecard. Message your connections something like what I wrote to mine back in December:
How have you been? How are the kids? I hope you’re all doing well.
I’m taking part in an hour of action tonight with ClimateVoice and 350 Silicon Valley. Did you know Google is not fully endorsing the Build Back Better Act? Check out this new corporate scorecard to see where Google stands: https://gotimeforclimate.com/
We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to pass historic climate legislation so please tweet directly at your company executives using the buttons on the right side of the corporate scorecard: https://gotimeforclimate.com/
Thank you and happy holidays,
If you do work for a company
Does your company already have a sustainability or green team? Join it! What is the team doing on climate? Find out. If your company doesn’t have a team, talk to coworkers who might be interested in forming one and figure out who in your company has the influence to make your proposed changes happen. Your team needs to talk to them.
Any of the following excellent guides will help you and your coworkers start your group:
50+ Ways to Drive Sustainability, created by planetgroups.net
How to develop a Green Team in your company, from Leaders for Climate Action
If you have tried to move your company toward climate solutions, please tell us about it!
I tried to get my university to pay for carbon offsets for faculty for conference travel. I think it is still under discussion. I now think offsets are pretty bogus but better than nothing I guess. A more satisfying thing was to scour thrift shops and purchase small plates, cups and cutlery to use for social events like retirement parties. We previously created so much waste with paper or plastic plates, cups, cutlery, etc. It was pretty fun. People beefed a bit about having to wash the dishes but I thought the dishwashing was a time to debrief about the party that had just finished up. Often the best part of the social event.
I "ain't touching nothing" at work. I was hauled over the coals for questioning who?? ordered the 50% cotton (thus inorganic)/50% polyester T-shirts for the volunteers from a company who had them made in Bangladesh, and was considered a scrooge when I suggested doing away with the staff room coffee "pods" and switching to a system that used fair trade ground in 2020. We are a non-profit that aims to "do good" in OUR community. Go figure.