“Tackling climate change is one of America’s greatest economic opportunities of the 21st Century (and it’s simply the right thing to do).” - BICEP Climate Declaration
Last week marked the first anniversary of the Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy (BICEP)’s Climate Declaration – a call to action from leading American businesses, urging the public, policy makers and business leaders to seize the economic opportunity in tackling climate change.
At Symantec, we are convinced that a strong, international coalition of governments, businesses, and civil society organizations is required to effectively address climate challenges. We are therefore proud to be signatories of the Climate Declaration, joining more than 750 companies nationwide to demonstrate our commitment to combatting climate change and advocating for all in the corporate community to do the same. In honor of the Climate Declaration’s first anniversary, we present a two-part series focusing on one of our primary efforts to reduce our climate change impacts – green building – as well as a deeper look at what the Climate Declaration means to us at Symantec.
Collaborating with Corporate America to Combat Climate Change
According to a recent report on the state of climate change released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “the emissions problem is still outrunning the determination to tackle it,” and we as governments, businesses, citizens need to act now.
Last week we were honored to join BICEP, leading companies, and policy makers at the nation’s capital to celebrate the one-year anniversary of The Climate Declaration, an extremely important step forward in mitigating Corporate America’s impacts on climate change. The event featured representatives from five top companies, who discussed climate-related business impacts, actions they are taking to reduce their companies’ carbon footprints, and the urgency for stronger policy action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support clean energy choices.
At Symantec, we have identified climate change as a priority issue for the company. We are working to integrate it into our operations, products, and supply chain, and include it in our goal setting and public reporting to ensure we are effectively managing the issue and providing transparency to our stakeholders on our actions and progress.
We believe that an approach coupling individual company action with multi-stakeholder collaboration is key to mitigating risks and harnesssing opportunities associated with climate change.
While our business may not have the largest climate change impacts, we believe collective voices can have a larger influence on policy changes, and that customers and companies start to take issues seriously, and act on them, when seeing larger collaboration. We want to be a part of this.
As a responsible corporation operating in an increasingly interconnected world, we are working hard to do our part to mitigate climate change and to respond to our stakeholders’ interests through our four pillar environmental strategy (see image below).
Specifically, through this strategy we aim to:
- Reduce our company’s greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) emissions;
- Engage and empower our employees and communities to contribute and participate in protecting the environment;
- Purchase environmentally-preferential products for use in our day-to-day business operations;
- Engage with our customers and other partners to understand how our products and services can help meet their sustainability goals;
- Invest in products and services that help our customers adapt to climate change challenges, and;
- Participate in energy and climate-related public policy efforts
In 2012, Symantec began the implementation of a company-wide Environmental Management System (EMS) based on the ISO 14001 standard. The EMS provides a structured framework for engaging stakeholders from across the business in identifying business risks and opportunities related to climate change and other sustainability issues, and for determining strategies to address those risks and opportunities.
I provide a few examples of key risks and opportunities below, but these, as well as our performance and actions around climate change mitigation, are detailed further in our public CDP report.
Changes in regulation: We comply with all laws and regulations in the countries we operate in. As regulation around greenhouse gas emissions and climate change impacts continue to increase across the world, we must be prepared to comply with these.
Physical climate parameters: The increased incidence and frequency of severe weather events that scientistists are linking to climate change has the potential to directly affect Symantec’s facilities and business operations. Severe storms and flooding could result in physical damage to our facilities and impacts on our employees, including their safety. Operating costs for cooling our data centers could also increase due to temperature rises and a greater incidence of extreme heat events.
Other climate-related developments, such as carbon taxes: If taxes similar to the United Kingdom's CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme tax are levied worldwide they will impact Symantec's global facilities operating expenses unless carbon emissions from those facilities are reduced.
Enhance our corporate reputation through our environmental and climate change programs, thereby strengthening relationships with key stakeholders. Additionally, Symantec's ability to operate in the software provider market depends in part on its reputation as a good environmental steward. Twenty-one percent of FY13 customer “RFxs” (Request for Information (RFI), Request for Proposal (RFP), Request for Quote (RFQ), and Request for Bid (RFB)) in FY2013 requested information about our performance and commitments on Corporate Responsibility and the environment.
Reduced costs: If Symantec can effectively invest in energy efficiency, it can reduce its bottom line expenses and be more competitive as compared to its peers, freeing up capital for other investments.
Climate change is an issue that is top of mind for all our stakeholders -- clients, employees, shareholders and non-profit partners. The issue touches each of us, and we all recognize that the more we collaborate the more effective we will be at sharing best practices, recognizing progress, and developing meaningful solutions.
Cecily Joseph is Symantec's Vice President, Corporate Responsibility.