Saturday, September 30, 2023

Three Ways Corporate Leaders Can Step Up Climate Action 

by Adrian Thomas, Canada Country President, Schneider Electric

We recognize the global signals of climate change: rising sea levels, extreme temperatures, wildfires and floods. With these impacts becoming more persistent, when will we collectively accept the current state of climate change is a crisis that we must resolve now

Canada has pledged commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40-45% from 2005 levels by 2030 and has legislated a goal to reach net zero emissions by 2050. However, decarbonization isn’t happening fast enough. With a global trajectory to limit temperature rise to 1.5°C, we need to convert net-zero ambition into action—and every sector of the economy must play a role. 

Corporate action is the key to accelerating the speed and scale of change. Devising a sustainability roadmap with decarbonization targets that involve Scopes 1, 2 and 3, must be a core part of business strategy. 

Three-step Sustainability Roadmap

1. Set Intentional Strategies & Goals: A net-zero business model must be agile, achievable and measurable. At Schneider Electric we have set science-based targets with our Schneider Sustainability Impact (SSI) strategy, which aligns with the UN’s SDGs and measures our Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) performance. As part of Schneider Electric’s SSI strategy, we commit to:

o Making our operations carbon neutral by 2025;

o Achieving net-zero carbon offsets in our operations by 2030; and

o Decarbonizing our end-to-end value chain by 2040 – ten years ahead of the 1.5 climate trajectory. 

Each commitment is backed up by 11 global targets and accompanying local targets, allowing  us to drive action, not just through ourselves and our partners, but also by our customers and local communities. 

In Canada, Schneider Electric is making significant decarbonization progress through locally-led efforts, including reducing the consumption of energy, waste, water and CO2 at our 20 sites across Canada, equipping our large sites with connected monitoring tools, and supporting local communities through volunteer opportunities and charitable donations. 

2. Be Selective with the Suppliers You Work WithFor many companies, the next frontier to tackle sustainability beyond their own operations is the value chain. Most of business’scarbon footprint rests in suppliers’ practices across the value chain. The CDP reports supply chain emissions are more than 11 times higher on average than operational emissions. These volumes can be even larger in industry segments like retail, apparel, and services.

At Schneider Electric we work with our suppliers all along the value chain to make sustainability non-negotiable. Last year, we launched our Zero Carbon Project, predicated on a commitment to partner with our top 1,000 suppliers who halve their operations’ CO2 emissions by 2025. This initiative allows best practice exchange between peers and partners to access other innovative solutions for decarbonization. By leading with example in our own ecosystem – through our own actions, what we do through our company, and with our partners across our extended supply chain—we hope to inspire others to follow suit.

3. Executive and investor activism for climate change: Now more than ever, Canadian business leaders must be accountable to steer their companies towards achieving Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) goals, including sustainability and climate change. According to the latest Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: Institutional Investors, a majority of Canadian investors are concerned that companies will not be able to meet net-zero commitments and are keeping a close eye on employee-employer dynamics for climate action to track how it shapes or sways company culture. Nearly three-quarters of the investors surveyed are interested in taking an activist approach to investing, using moderate-to-aggressive pressures to monitor operational and governance performance. This healthy tension between C-suite leaders and investors can step up climate action, driving leaders to take a more proactive approach to drive change across and beyond their organization.

Moving the needle on climate change requires innovative approaches in every corporate boardroom. The onus is on leaders to acknowledge that there is a business imperative for addressing the climate crisis head on. As key decision makers, we have aresponsibility to lead our companies in the fight against climate change—creating truly sustainable organizations that will have aglobal and societal impact now, and for the future. If not now, when? If not us, then who?


Adrian Thomas is a seasoned and progressive leader, with over 20 years of experience in the electrical and automation industry. Adrian joined Schneider Electric in 2016, as the leader of the Building segment, and has since held multiple leadership roles, including VP of Digital Energy, Low Voltage Power Systems, and VP of Home and Distribution, Power Products and Channel. He has been instrumental in bringing Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure to life in Canada, helping partners and businesses alike achieve their sustainability ambitions and accelerating the company’s digitization journey and sustainable growth.

Prior to joining Schneider Electric, Adrian held sales and leadership roles at General Electric and TMEIC Corporation. He holds an electrical engineering degree from McMaster University and a post-graduate certificate in finance for executives from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.


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