Carbon Case 2: Science Based Targets Initiative

VF Corp – parent company to such outdoor brands as The North Face and Icebreaker – turned to the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTI) to ensure their climate goals are in line with the Paris Agreement.

VF states that its new science-based targets are among the most ambitious in the industry – can you expand on this, and where will the key reductions take place?

“We are among the first in our industry to have set a 1.5-degree target for Scope 1 and 2 emissions and a well-below 2-degree target for Scope 3 emissions, in alignment with the latest SBTI guidance for our sector which was just released in June 2019.”

“Through the process of developing our science-based targets, we discovered that about 1% of our total emissions can be attributed to our owned operations, while over 50% can be directly related to the sourcing and production of materials and products. This gave us a great view of where to start in terms of prioritizing our CO2 impact reduction efforts.”

What’s the value in this and similar initiatives from an industry perspective?

“Companies have a significant role to play in driving down global GHG emissions. The purpose of the Science-Based Targets Initiative is to provide a consistent methodology within and across industries for companies to set meaningful targets, rooted in science, toward the well below 2 degrees C or 1.5 degrees C thresholds that will be required to prevent severe ecological and humanitarian crises.”

“As a purpose-driven company, and one of the largest apparel and footwear companies globally, we believe we have an opportunity to use our scale to effect change – and to demonstrate that these activities can enhance, not detract from, business success. We hope that our commitments inspire other companies to follow suit, and that they signal to NGO’s, government, investors, and other stakeholders that we are serious about leading the charge into a new vision of what business leadership can be.”

VF is also a signatory to other climate initiatives. How do you choose and prioritize these?

“We get approached to sign on to so many different initiatives – we definitely have to prioritize. This typically involves robust discussion among all of the relevant internal subject matter experts, which includes asking ourselves questions like ‘how does participation in this initiative provide value to our business?’ and, ‘are we already signed on to an initiative that provides the same or similar value?’”

Critics note it’s easy for businesses to exit such voluntary coalitions, putting into question their long-term efficacy. Would you agree or disagree?

“I actually disagree with the statement that it’s easy for businesses to exit these types of commitments. In my opinion, businesses do not take these types of commitments lightly – neither joining nor dissolving them. I don’t think companies would sign on unless they are truly committed to the change.”

“I have friends and colleagues in various organizations and sustainability leadership positions across the outdoor and fashion industries, and our collective passion and commitment to the fight against climate change is what gives me hope that we can actually succeed in achieving our targets and using the power of business to play a significant role.”

SUSTON
jonathan.eidse@norragency.com