Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Business & Economy

Climate Action Now ‘Essential’ For Businesses Going Forward

A photo of solar panels.
Wikimedia Commons
Several Utah companies have joined with the Utah Sustainable Business Coalition to make pledges to reduce their environmental impacts. Transitioning to renewable energy sources is one of the key areas they target.

Even in a down economy, investors across the country are increasingly looking to support companies with high sustainability ratings. And as more people’s attitudes on the climate are shifting, some Utah businesses are looking to reduce their impact.

As the economy suffers through the coronavirus pandemic, one way businesses can become more resilient is by reducing their environmental impact.

That was one of the key findings from a recent report published by the National Bureau of Economic Research. While most mutual funds have underperformed during the crisis, the report said, those with high sustainability ratings did well. The authors of the report said that suggests investors view sustainable environmental policies as a necessity, rather than a luxury.

Stephanie Dolmat, a corporate social responsibility manager at Adobe, which has offices in Lehi, said her company is confronting those demands firsthand. Employees, customers and investors are all asking what they are doing to reduce their environmental impact, she said. Because of that, climate action has become essential for survival.

“It is hugely important to us staying in business,” Dolmat said. “I mean sustainability isn’t just a word, it means to sustain over the long term.”

Dolmat said Adobe has committed to transitioning to 100% renewable energy by 2035. And given they’re a software company, relying more on internet downloads now than physical products has helped reduce paper waste and emissions from shipping.

The company is one of 29 organizations in Utah that recently pledged to start measuring and improving their environmental impacts, mostly by reducing waste and educating employees on sustainable practices. That’s on top of outdoor industry groups in the state and a slew of local governments that have set environmental goals of their own.

Will Adams, who helps manage employee experience at Provo-based Qualtrics, said educating employees on sustainable practices has been a key part of their plan. But one of their biggest tools is pushing public policy, such as an upcoming hearing at the Utah Public Service Commission on the value of rooftop solar for Utah residents.

“It would make a much bigger impact if all the leading businesses came out and put their weight behind an initiative like that,” Adams said. “Leveraging name recognition and leveraging status in the community is always going to be something that will drive more change.”

He said advocating for environmental policies will also help companies show they’re not just paying lip service to sustainability goals, but taking action.

KUER is listener-supported public radio. Support this work by making a donation today.