Doing Our Part on Climate
Doing Our Part on Climate The time to act is now - for all of us
Climate change is a global challenge that transcends boundaries, affecting people and communities everywhere. We view it as both an environmental issue and a human rights issue, as it poses a threat to such basic needs as having clean air to breathe and a safe environment to live in. What’s more, people who face the challenges of poverty or lack of opportunity are often most affected by environmental harms and have the fewest resources with which to cope. Few issues carry such an urgent need to come together to forge solutions.
We view climate change as both an environmental issue and a human rights issue – and the urgent need to take action has led us to set a much more ambitious goal to reduce our carbon emissions.
We know that climate change holds the potential to impact our business, as well as the many people throughout the world whose lives we touch. And we feel an ethical responsibility to address this issue. The apparel industry causes significant environmental impacts, including greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Our company can only thrive in a world with abundant natural resources and a healthy environment that supports the well-being of all of us. We also believe that addressing climate change benefits our business, making us more efficient and enhancing our connection with customers, employees and other stakeholders. When we reduce our energy usage and emissions, we are not just doing our part, but becoming part of something bigger – a global effort to solve one of society’s most critical challenges.
Our company can only thrive in a world with abundant natural resources and a healthy environment that supports the well-being of all of us.
Over time, we have set increasingly ambitious goals to address our environmental footprint. Moving forward, we are going much further than in the past, committing to a 50 percent absolute reduction of GHG emissions in our owned and operated facilities globally by 2020. We also commit to divert 80 percent of our waste from landfill for our U.S. facilities in the same time period. Both of these goals will require us to significantly increase our efficiency through such innovations as real-time monitoring of the energy use in our stores.
These goals also represent a shift in our thinking. Whereas before we took a measured approach, now we feel a more pressing need to act. The International Panel on Climate Change declared in 2014 that, “Human influence on the climate system is clear, and recent anthropogenic [caused by human activity] emissions of greenhouse gases are the highest in history.”2 We believe that the health of our environment depends on bolder and bolder action across all segments of society – from governments to companies to consumers.
As one of the world’s largest apparel retailers, we recognize that our size brings added responsibility, and it also presents greater opportunity to make a difference. While each of the changes we are making would not be enough on its own, the sum of our efforts – across the scale of our business operations – holds the potential to create real change. Every improvement in our policies, practices, processes and decisions helps, and we believe that taken together, these actions can drive results we haven’t produced to date. This impact can be multiplied as other companies set bigger reduction targets, leading to a greater collective ability to mitigate climate change.
Since setting our first carbon reduction goal in 2003, we have learned a great deal that has helped us shape our approach to making environmental improvements. For example, we see the need to act both inside and outside Gap Inc. so that we address our own impacts while working toward broad-based change. In addition, we recognize the need to continually look at our operations with fresh eyes, so that we uncover new ways to become more efficient. And we are developing a long-term strategy to address the environmental footprint of our supply chain, where we have less influence but see great potential to help create a positive impact.
“Footwear and apparel companies. . .are uniquely challenged by sustainability risks such as climate change, water scarcity and human rights. Their widespread operations and supply chains require large amounts of the water and energy to produce, package and ship merchandise … across the globe.”
In all the areas we are focused on, we are at a critical juncture in mitigating our environmental impacts. Achieving our goals by the end of 2020 won’t be easy, as we will need to make new investments, find new approaches and adopt new ways of operating. But the challenges that the world faces demand that we take our efforts to this next stage of commitment. While we don’t yet have all the answers to how we will achieve our goals, we are determined to find our way on a path to creating greater change.