Sustainability is no longer about compromise

As the world gears up for the Paris climate talks, the Swedish furniture giant IKEA Group has announced that it will be investing the equivalent of $2 billion Australian dollars into a sustainable low carbon economy.

Two thirds of this will go towards renewable energy, mostly wind and some solar. The remainder will go to funding IKEA Foundations commitment to support communities most affected by climate change.

“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.”   Peter Agnefjäll, president and CEO of IKEA Group

Sustainable products are no longer second rate, grey recycled toilet paper,and slow dull lighting.

Today sustainability technology is no longer about compromise. Instead consumers can choose affordable sustainable products that are both beautiful and functional.

Today IKEA believe this is no longer negotiable – sustainability is something we must all do.

The global giant will use their buying power to force the cost of sustainable products down.

By 2020 IKEA will produce more sustainable energy, than all the energy they consume across all their stores, factories the distribution centers. So far IKEA have installed 300,000 solar panels, and own 14 wind farms in several countries.

According to IKEA’s Chief Sustainability Officer Steve Howard, “every business can do things like this.”

IKEA are not the only company heading towards 100% sustainability, Google and Lego are also going 100% renewable.

But IKEA’s size does make it’s commitment stand out. Many national governments are not doing as much to fight climate change. 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, suggested in a recent 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.”

Steve Howard says in many ways it’s easier to go all-in. “A 100 percent goal is easier than 90 percent, or 50 percent. Because when you go for 90 percent, everyone in the company always finds a way to be in the 10 percent.”

View more from Steve Howard, IKEA’s Chief Sustainability Officer in this TED talk.


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