WWF Climate Savers demonstrate how industry can adopt green approaches.

WWF Climate Savers

Researchers at Exeter have joined forces with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to investigate what motivates multinational corporations to implement environmentally related initiatives in their operations ad supply chains.  In their research, Professor Jonathan Gosling and Dr Jeff Jia focus on how organisations have used sustainability related products and services to gain competitive advantage. 

The project is working with eight major western based companies including Tetra Pak, Sony, Lafrege, Fairmont Hotels, SKF, HP, Volvo and Nokia Siemens Networks.

The ‘WWF Climate Savers’ bring together industry leaders who agree to challenge themselves and set ambitious goals in cutting CO2 emissions, and support growth of clean, renewable energy. They demonstrate how industry can tackle climate change and adopt green approaches for the future.

Data collated by the research team reveals that Western multinationals take a long-term view with regards to sustainability, with sustainability often integrated into corporate strategy.

Sustainability represents a new area of revenue generation, providing high profit margins for multinational companies.

Another major consideration is government approval of sustainability initiatives, to try and align the objectives of company initiatives with the priority of central and local governments. Having successfully established a strong team of industry Climate Savers in the west, the research team were keen to see if a similar approach could be fostered in China.

The Chinese industrial sector accounts for more than 70 per cent of the country’s total energy consumption and is the fourth largest producer of manufactured goods in the world, with the second largest economy. If the Chinese manufacturing industry could pioneer an environmentally sustainable supply chain it could contribute to global greenhouse gas mitigation efforts.  

China is forecast to become the second-largest consumer market in the world by 2015 and is seen as ‘a trillion dollar prize’ for MNCs. 

The Chinese government has set up its national target of 16 per cent energy intensity reduction  by 2015; it has also specified the province-by-province targets based on each province’s energy, industrial and economic indicators. However, data from the research team indicates that such ambitious targets are only attainable with the active participation of stakeholders, the community and government. 

Dr Jeff Jia said: “Creating a sustainable supply chain in China replies upon integrated systems in implementing both environmental and social sustainability. The system includes stakeholders from the business/companies.”