While the report focuses on the carrot of cost savings for participating US companies, it also brandishes the stick of the potential cost of failing to act immediately. “If you don’t act now, it’s going to be far more expensive and harder to plan for,” says CDP’s Simpson. “The costs of inaction are very high, including significant disruptions to supply chains. We’re already seeing companies reporting increased physical risks from changing weather patterns and a changing climate.”
To avoid those scenarios, The 3% Solution identifies three categories of corporate activities that can achieve the required carbon emissions reductions and generate the associated cost savings. These are improved energy efficiency through behavioral or management changes; technology improvements (like creating systems that generate heat and power at the same time and by switching from older, energy-inefficient technologies to newer, upgraded systems); and increased investment in low-carbon and renewable energy—especially rooftop solar power.
“I personally was a bit surprised at the report’s emphasis on rooftop solar, but I shouldn’t have been because innovation, mass production and scale are really driving the cost of photovoltaics down,” Simpson says. “There are many cost-effective approaches to emissions reductions with great returns on investment available. But the cost of solar panels has plummeted in the past five years, making solar energy more attractive. It presents a huge opportunity for many of these companies that have enormous roof spaces.”
Johnson & Johnson is already reaping the benefits of investment in solar power. According to the company’s global energy director, Jed Richardson, J&J now has more than 20 megawatts of solar panel arrays installed on its properties worldwide. “Years ago, solar was much more expensive, and our implementation was reliant on rebates and incentives offered by states and countries around the world,” Richardson explains. “Today, because the price of solar panels has dropped so dramatically from what it was even five years ago, we’re beginning to look at solar in parts of the world where the energy rates are just high, even though you don’t necessarily have any external force influencing the installation of the panels.”
“The nice thing about solar for us is that it really is plug-and-play. You turn it on, you walk away and it really does its job,” says Richardson. “J&J is also increasing its use of wind power, recently installing two three-megawatt wind turbines at its manufacturing plants in Ireland.”