From selling home solar systems to supporting sustainable forestry, IKEA has gone to considerable lengths to position itself as a leader on climate change. It has even pushed veggie meatballs in Sweden and invested massive amounts in renewable energy.
But it's not done yet.
As the world gears up for the Paris climate talks, the Swedish furniture giant just announced a further €1billion in climate-related funding (that's about $1.1 billion in U.S. dollars). About €600 million of the funds are earmarked for renewable energy investments, mostly wind and some solar, while a further €400 million will be used to provide support for climate adaptation and renewable energy technologies in impoverished communities through the IKEA Foundation. Here's how Peter Agnefjäll, president and CEO of IKEA Group, described the commitment:
"Climate change is one of the world’s biggest challenges and we need bold commitments and action to find a solution. That’s why we are going all in to transform our business, to ensure that it is fit for the future and we can have a positive impact. This includes going 100% for renewable energy, by investing in wind and solar, and converting all our lighting products to affordable LED bulbs, helping many millions of households to live a more sustainable life at home.”
Even in a world where more big companies are spending big on renewables, the sheer size of IKEA's commitment is staggering. In fact, a spokeswoman for the European Climate Foundation, quoted by Business Green, suggested that many national governments are not doing as much to fight climate change as IKEA:
"Impressive is the stark contrast in which the company announcement stands to the climate finance offers of many governments. By way of comparison: Sweden's annual budget is €240bn; its pledge for the initial capitalisation of the Green Climate Fund was €511m. IKEA has an annual turnover of approximately €28bn."
In another indication of just how big this is, Steve Howard, IKEA's chief sustainability officer, suggested in an interview with the Financial Times that a similar commitment from other businesses could lead to a radical transformation of the energy system within a short timeframe:
"If every business and organisation did what we did, we would flip electricity generation into being renewable-based by 2020 or shortly thereafter."
And if you're wondering why IKEA is going so big while others pursue incremental improvement, you might want to check out this TED talk from the aforementioned Steve Howard. In many ways, he says, it's easier to go "all-in."
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