Levi Strauss & Co. (LS&Co.) is debunking recent reports that predicted sustainability efforts would go on pause as the industry recovers from the pandemic. In just a week’s time, the denim giant earned a prestigious ranking from the Climate Disclosure Project (CDP), urged the European Union to set more aggressive targets, and signed a global sustainability coalition.
According to LS&Co. chief sustainability officer Jeffrey Hogue, the planet can’t afford for progress to take a backseat right now. The United Nations notes that by 2030, the global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide will need to fall by about 45 percent from 2010 levels in order to reach net zero by 2050.
“We are at an absolutely critical moment in the effort to address the climate crisis: five years after the Paris Agreement and entering the decade that will determine success or failure in responding to this existential threat,” he said.
Levi’s showed it’s doing its part last week, when CDP awarded the company with an “A” score for its transparency and management efforts, specifically highlighting its collaborative efforts to identify and implement renewable energy and water-saving methods across 10 countries.
Levi’s was one of 270 companies to earn the prestigious score. This year, CDP evaluated more than 9,600 companies in 2020, representing a 70 percent increase since the Paris Agreement in 2015 and a 14 percent spike from 2019.
“CDP data shows growing environmental awareness among the business world in 2020, which is hugely positive considering the unprecedented challenges business and society have faced this year,” said Dexter Galvin, CDP’s global director of corporations and supply chains. “We have the wind in our sails. Now, we need these pioneers to inspire the sluggish majority of corporates if the private sector is to take a leadership role when climate targets ratchet up at COP26 next year. The race is on.”
In order to sustain progress and rally other areas of the world to follow suit, Levi’s and 170 other companies and investor CEOs are calling on the European Union to establish more ambitious environmental goals. The companies recently signed an open letter urging EU heads of state and the European Commission to set an EU 2030 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction target of at least 55 percent, which will put the continent on track to becoming climate-neutral by 2050.
Levi’s has long called on the government for support in the fight against climate change. Just last year, Paul Dillinger, Levi’s head of innovation, said that significant advancements in sustainable initiatives such as circularity will only happen when progressive governments get involved.
And the company is prepared to pick up the slack if the government fails to get on board. Levi’s was recently one of 1,007 businesses to sign the “We Are All In” statement, in which companies around the world reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris Agreement on climate change. The coalition is a continuation of the “We Are Still In” agreement established in 2017 after the Trump administration announced America’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate. The new coalition pledges to partner with fellow signatories and the Biden-Harris administration in the fight against the climate crisis.
Next up, Levi’s plans to improve performance within its supply chain, which makes up 63 percent of its overall carbon footprint. It pledged to reduce supply chain emissions 40 percent by 2025, a goal it will achieve by establishing new targets for suppliers and expanding its partnership with the International Finance Corporation, a global development institution focused on the private sector in developing countries.
While the company has made significant progress, there’s still room for improvement, Hogue said.
“Everyone in the company should be proud,” he added. “But there’s much more work to do, and we should have much more progress to report on in the year ahead.”