While many governments, including our own here in Australia and the Trump administration in the USA continue to deny climate change, many major corporations continue to not only acknowledge it but also to implement strategies to address it.
The latest is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of diesel engines, Cummins.
The US based engine maker is stepping up its fight against climate change and pollution and has announced a series of short and long-term goals that will reduce waste from its manufacturing facilities worldwide as well as aiming to reduce the carbon footprint from its internal combustion engine products.
Cummins says it will set quantifiable goals for 2030 along with longer-term aspirations to 2050 ad says its strategy is science-based and intended to meet or exceed the goals in the United Nations Paris agreement on climate change.
The company unveiled its sustainability initiative in a press call conducted last week by its chairman and CEO, Tom Linebarger.
Linebarger said that Cummins is committed to making people’s lives better by powering a more prosperous world.
“When we say a more prosperous world, we mean a world that has wealth and growth and people’s lives are better this year than last year. But we also mean environmental sustainability because there’s no point in growing and increasing wealth if it’s a planet that you don’t want to live in,” Linebarger said.
The company has called its strategy Planet 2050, and it is focused on three priority areas including, addressing climate change and air emissions, using natural resources in the most sustainable way and improving communities.
It includes eight specific goals, timed to 2030, as well as targets for 2050 and it says the strategy is the most comprehensive and ambitious environmental sustainability plan ever pursued by the company.
Some of the climate change and emissions goals include reducing absolute greenhouse gas emissions from facilities and operations by 50 per cent, reducing absolute lifetime greenhouse gas emissions from new products by 25 per cent, partnering with customers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from products in the field by 55 million metric tonnes, and reduce volatile organic compounds emissions from paint and coating operations by 50 per cent.
Cummins says that its sustainable natural resource use goals include
creating a circular lifecycle plan for every part to use less, use better and use again. It also says it will generate 25 per cent less waste in its facilities and operations as a percentage of revenue, it will reuse or responsibly recycle 100 per cent of packaging plastics and eliminate single-use plastics in dining facilities, employee amenities and events while also reducing absolute water consumption in facilities and operations by 30 per cent.
“Our products have a large environmental footprint and they contribute significantly to climate change and they also contribute significantly to economic goals and strong communities,” Linebarger said.
“We need to figure out ways to continue that contribution to growth in strong communities while reducing the environmental footprint. We have to be part of this solution and we need to do our full part of that improvement,” he added.
According to the president of the environmental defence fund, Fred Krupp, the latest report from the inter-governmental panel on climate change says to keep warming below 2 degrees Celsius there is a need to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 in the U.S. and worldwide soon after.
“Net-zero mean producing no more climate pollution into the air than we can remove,” said Krupp. “Net-zero by 2050 is ambitious but it’s achievable, but we’ll need a serious commitment, not just from governments, but also from businesses that want to be part of the solution,” he added.
Linebarger said that while Cummins’ recently invested in hydrogen fuel cell technology and added that it was extremely promising in a wide range of applications he stressed that the internal combustion engine is not dead yet.
“We cannot overlook the role of internal combustion engine as a bridge to a cleaner future and we believe that in some applications that internal combustion engine will not have a substitute for many, many years,” he said.
“Cummins will continue to enhance the efficiency of the diesel and we can continue to improve our natural gas engines delivering near zero emission levels today while opur advancements in powertrains, biofuels and connectivity will also drive efficiencies further and carbon down,” Linebarger added.
According to Cummins it has been focusing on reducing waste in its manufacturing using six Sigma and other processes to design out waste and products and processes at every step.
“We’ve committed to using less water in our processes and to return it cleaner to the community whenever possible,” said Linebarger.
Cummins says it set its first environmental goals in 2006 and announced a more comprehensive and challenging revised plan in 2014, with new goals now set for 2020.
“Cummins has formally committed to developing these science-based targets under the direction of the science based target initiatives,” said Brian Mormino, executive director, environmental strategy and compliance, for Cummins.
“This initiative provides a framework for the calculation of greenhouse gas goals for products and facilities that are aligned with recommendations by climate scientists,” he said.
“Here, the approach was to use a publicly vetted approach, rooted in what the experts say is needed. They laid out the de-carbonisation path for sectors and we applied that to the Cummins businesses and our operations, and those targets have now been validated and approved by the science-based target initiative,” he added.
Cummins says that the progress on its 2030 goals will be periodically evaluated and communicated, including consideration of whether more can or should be done in line with global energy and environmental challenges.
The company says its 2030 quantitative goals are a step to the ultimate 2050 objectives.
“We believe this framework allows us to deliver on real gains and adjust to a changing world. If we can move faster we will. Right now our work is focused on figuring out how to achieve these 2030 goals because we don’t have all of the answers today,” Mormino said.
In outlining some of the challenges in achieving carbon neutrality and near-zero pollution, the CEO pointed out that about 99 per cent of its greenhouse gas footprint comes from the product it produces.
“Several technologies under development today aren’t yet economically viable and won’t even be the right solution in the future,” said Linebarger.
“The transition will take a long time given the need for new infrastructure and if we are going to make a significant impact, we must reduce the environmental footprint of all the products in our portfolio today as well as those in the future from diesel to natural gas to electrified power and fuel cells,” he added.
On top of its internal and external plans to reduce its environmental impact, Cummins says it will be pushing for tough, clear and enforceable regulations around the globe to address emissions, and for science-based, economy-wide climate policies.
“Earlier this year, two Cummins executives testified before two congressional committees advocating for this approach and we will continue to do that,” said Mormino.
“We recognise that achieving our strategy requires strong implementation and enforcement of regulations to drive down economy-wide air and greenhouse gas emissions, and we will continue to work with trade associations, our customers, suppliers, community leaders, and other stakeholders to advocate for these policies,” he added.
Cummins announced plans to develop electric powertrains in 2017 and announced plans earlier this year to expand its electrification efforts with a substantial investment in infrastructure and technology at its Columbus, Indiana engine plant.
Cummins also recently reaffirmed its commitment to its hydrogen fuel cell research and development efforts by displaying a Class 8 concept truck with hybrid Cummins fuel cell and battery electric power at the North American Commercial Vehicle Show in Atlanta.
“Cummins is in a strong position to help, we’re a big company serving customers in 190 countries and our employees are experts in power and innovation so we can partner with customers and suppliers to increase the scale of everything we do to have a bigger impact. What’s more, it’s our duty to help,” said Linebarger.