First, let me wish each of you a happy new year.  I hope everyone was able to recharge over the holidays and feels ready to jump into 2020 at full force. Though we’re only a few weeks in, I can already tell the year ahead is going to be a whirlwind as organizations across the globe continue 2019’s positive momentum on climate action.  Why do I believe that? Here’s a quick story for you…

When Dan Kalafatas and I started 3Degrees over a decade ago, I was spearheading sales and I honestly thought my phone wasn’t working (sadly, it was). I would make dozens of calls a week, and literally nobody called me back. Fast forward to today, January 2020, and it’s a completely different world. Corporate and utility organizations alike are proactively reaching out to us for help with their renewable energy, transportation, and climate solutions work. In fact, 3Degrees added nearly 30% more staff in 2019, including new international hires, and had to move offices to accommodate this growth.

While much of the climate news these days can be disheartening, I offer this as a piece of good news. This growth is a direct reflection of an increasing number of organizations holding themselves accountable and stepping up to take climate action — which, as we all know, is desperately needed. I see no signs of this slowing down in 2020.  

Here are a few examples of developments that I find most promising right now:

  1. Accelerating corporate commitments. From the historic pledge taken by over 500 B Corps – including 3Degrees –  to get to Net Zero by 2030 (20 years ahead of the targets set in the Paris Agreement), announced in December at the UN Climate Change Conference COP25, to tech giant Microsoft’s recent headline-grabbing announcement that it will be carbon negative by 2030, as well as launch a $1B carbon innovation fund, we’re seeing an acceleration of companies willing to step up and take meaningful climate action.
  2. Increased focus on transportation emissions. In 2016, the transportation sector surpassed the power sector as the largest emitter of greenhouse gasses (GHG) in the U.S. We clearly have our work cut out for us to address this rather significant challenge. That said, it’s been encouraging to see companies such as Lyft and Etsy take initial steps to address their Scope 3, transportation-related emissions by investing in carbon offsets in the near-term, while they work on longer-term solutions. Our team is also working with more clients on broader transportation-related solutions, including fleet electrification strategies, and incentive programs such as the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) in California.
  3. Utilities are also stepping up to the challenge. As highlighted in this article from Greentech Media last week, several major electric utilities are setting carbon-free targets, which is an important step forward. While there is still huge variation in how the country’s biggest utilities are addressing climate change, these bold commitments are a positive sign.
  4. Inspirational youth movement. As I wrote in a blog post following the Global Climate Strike last September, I’ve been thinking a lot about the legacy that we will leave behind for the next generation and I’m energized by the incredible leadership that this generation is already demonstrating.

Here’s wishing you and your organization a sustainable and action-oriented new year and decade, with a renewed passion for doing all we can to address the climate challenge.

Steve McDougal
CEO, 3Degrees