To fight global warming, filtration and cleaning chemicals firm Ecolab Inc. will cut its carbon emissions by 50% by 2030 and to zero by 2050, company officials announced Thursday.
The effort, which will involve supply chain and plant operational changes, embraces the United Nations' goal for businesses to help reduce global temperature escalations to below 2 degrees Celsius.
Ecolab — which is based in St. Paul and provides cleaning chemicals and services to restaurants, hotels, breweries and factories — is the latest company to align its environmental goals with the U.N. Global Compact's new "Business Ambition" challenge.
To meet its commitment, the $15 billion Ecolab said it plans to convert to 100% renewable energy sources at all of its factories. That move started in 2018 when Ecolab signed a green-power purchase agreement and committed to financing a wind farm that will provide 100% of its electricity needs in North America.
That wind farm will come online sometime next year. In Europe, Ecolab already buys 99.4% of its electricity from renewable sources, said Doug Baker, the company's chief executive.
To date, more than 28 companies have accepted the challenge, including British Telecommunications, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Levi Strauss & Co.
Earlier this week, Minnetonka-based Cargill committed to slashing its greenhouse gas emissions across its entire supply chain by 30% per ton of product in the next decade. Maplewood-based 3M previously committed to sourcing 50% of its electricity needs in 70 countries from renewable sources by 2025. It also committed to eventually moving to 100% green energy sourcing.
In St. Paul, Ecolab officials said they are happy to join the U.N's latest effort to curb energy use and greenhouse gases.
"Climate change demands urgent action, and it's absolutely critical that we accelerate our efforts to mitigate its impact," Baker said in a statement. "We don't yet have all the answers as to how we'll get to net-zero carbon emissions, but business needs to come together and create forward momentum. That's why Ecolab is committing to [limiting the temperature rise to] 1.5 degrees Celsius," or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit above preindustrial levels.
Besides its renewable energy goal, Ecolab said it plans to electrify its entire fleet of service vehicles and expand the number of energy-efficiency projects at its plants, offices, research centers and other facilities around the world.
The company also will work with supply-chain partners and customers to adopt similar climate-change reduction goals.
Ecolab already works with food and industrial customers to reduce their energy costs and water use, said Emilio Tenuta, Ecolab vice president of corporate sustainability.
In 2018, Ecolab helped customers conserve 188 billion gallons of water. The water savings helped avoid 19 trillion BTUs of energy use and 1.1 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions, Tenuta said, noting that water is often "the missing link in the climate debate. If the world economy made gains in sustainable water management, we'd be a significant step closer to a more climate-resilient world and cut our carbon emissions in the process."