True, lasting change only happens when we all work together.
That’s one of the key messages being delivered this week at the Global Climate Action Summit, which kicked off Wednesday and continues through Friday in San Francisco. More than 4,000 people, leaders from around the world from across the private and public sectors, are gathering at the summit to find ways to achieve the climate goals set by the Paris Agreement.
Kevin Johnson, Starbucks chief executive officer, was among those on a panel this morning titled “Leadership: What cities, states, businesses, investors and civil society have achieved together.”
Also on the panel were Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam International; Brian Deese, global head of sustainable investing for BlackRock; Mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz of Warsaw; and Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey.
“We’ve got champions on the ground leading the fight to fulfill promises made in Paris,” said panel moderator Emily Chang, anchor and executive producer of Bloomberg Technology, as the event began.
Johnson and other panelists discussed the importance of collaborating and working together to create change.
"If you look at this problem on a global basis, it can be so overwhelming it's discouraging," Johnson said. "The only way to look at this problem is 'Am I partnering with other like-minded organizations in the public and private sectors and NGOs to work progress?'"
He said leading a large company is not just about profit, but also about doing what’s right – and continuing to look for new ways to build on that.
"One of our social impact pillars is sustainability," Johnson said. "We are a company in that believes, in the fabric of mission and values, that the pursuit of profit is not in conflict with the pursuit of doing good.”
10,000 Greener Stores
For the past decade, Starbucks has been committed to creating green buildings through a partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council. The two organizations worked together on the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for Retail program, a rating system that evaluates a building’s environmental performance and encourages sustainable design. Starbucks now operates more than 1,500 LEED®-certified stores globally across 20 countries – including all 50 states and Puerto Rico – more than any other retailer in the world.
Johnson announced at the summit today that Starbucks will go beyond the LEED sustainable building criteria and also focus on operating its stores in greener ways. The new Greener Stores will be held to performance-based standards that focus on powering U.S. and Canada stores with 100 percent renewable energy, using technology that is estimated to save 25 to 30 percent on energy and water use and more. By 2025, the company will have 10,000 Greener Stores globally, encompassing existing stores and new stores and renovations.
The path to achieving that, called the “Starbucks Greener Stores framework" will be developed over the next year by leading experts including SCS Global Services and World Wildlife Fund.
It will focus not just on energy and water use in the stores but also on using responsible materials that reduce environmental impact and create a healthier environment for store partners and customers, including air and water quality. The Greener Stores framework will also encourage partners to be more aware and engaged in sustainability issues, Johnson said. Once developed, the framework will be open-sourced so that others in the retail industry can use what has been learned.
“As a company, we understand the importance of making sustainability a priority, from ethically and sustainably sourcing coffee to conserving natural resources in the communities we serve,” said Johnson, in a company release.
Building on a commitment
Today’s announcement builds on a tradition of Starbucks striving to find ways to be a more responsible, sustainable company, ranging from offering a discount to customers who use reusable cups to fundamental, widespread changes.
In July, Starbucks announced plans to innovate around reducing single-use plastic straws from its 28,000 stores around the world by 2020. The first step toward that began with the introduction of strawless lids for cold beverages. This year the company also committed to creating a compostable, recyclable paper cup. Working with ClosedLoop Partners, Starbucks has made a $10 million commitment to challenge leading innovators and entrepreneurs to develop a global solution that can be shared with the entire industry.
At Starbucks, many meetings or company gatherings begin with a coffee tasting. Together, Starbucks partners pause to smell, sip and savor sample cups of coffee and learn about where that particular cup of coffee originated. They think about the farmers who grew the coffee and the conditions they are facing. Some farms are coping with the effects of climate change in the form of a disease called rust that can affect coffee trees. Starbucks agronomists are working to develop rust-resistant types of coffee trees that can be given to farmers to help preserve their livelihoods.
During the panel, he also discussed the company’s commitment to making coffee the first 100 percent sustainable agricultural product, being ethically grown and sourced – not just for Starbucks but for everyone.
He also wants other corporations to know that doing what’s right isn’t just socially responsible but can also be good for business. The commitment to Greener Stores, for example, is estimated to save the company an incremental $50 million in utilities over the next 10 years.
Some of Starbucks sustainability programs were suggested by partners themselves, such as FoodShare, which helps eliminate food waste in the stores. Each night, eligible food many U.S. stores that wasn’t sold is rescued and donated to those who need it.
"It's all driven with the aspiration to be the number one company in the world to have a completely sustainable platform, from working with farmers to our supply chain to the end product in our stores," he said.
Photos by Nikki Ritcher Photography - Global Climate Action Summit