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Explore Salesforce's Climate Action Strategy

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you'll be able to:

  • Explain why Salesforce values sustainability.
  • Understand Salesforce's efforts to incorporate sustainable business practices.

At Salesforce, we operate with a set of core values—earning the trust of all our stakeholders, driving customer success, delivering constant innovation, and fostering the equality of every human being. Our work in sustainability enforces these values. We consider the environment to be one of our key stakeholders, which is why we focus on environmental stewardship, including creating a low-carbon future for all. As a global company, Salesforce recognizes our unique position to not only be a leader in environmental sustainability, but also provide a blueprint for other companies to follow in their own sustainability journeys. 

However, we understand that every company is in a different position to make an impact based on their business model, size, and scope. So we won’t claim that one size fits all. But we know that every company can integrate more sustainable business practices into their culture and operations. 

For Salesforce, sustainability is increasingly important as we continue to grow our business and expand across the globe. We have to pause and ask ourselves: What does sustainable growth look like? 

“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” —Our Common Future

We Set Ambitious Sustainability Goals

As a cloud company, we don’t manufacture anything so our environmental impact can’t be that big, right? Wrong! The cloud runs on data centers, which run on electricity. The IT sector currently accounts for an estimated 7 percent of global energy consumption. And data centers aren’t the only source of environmental impact. All modern companies across industries consume natural resources, whether it’s the water from our faucets or the electricity that powers our computers and keeps the lights on. 

In early 2020, Salesforce, along with a coalition of business, civil society, and U.N. leaders, committed to set 1.5°C science- based emissions reduction targets, the ambitious goal needed to prevent the damaging effects of climate change. The Science Based Targets initiative has approved Salesforce’s emissions reduction targets — advancing Salesforce’s commitment to creating a sustainable, low-carbon future and economy.

Over many years Salesforce has been laying the groundwork for reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by following a three-step, iterative process: avoid, reduce, offset.

Salesforce achieved net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in 2017 by following a three-step iterative process: avoid, reduce, offset.

In 2017, Salesforce achieved net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and began delivering customers a carbon neutral cloud. Operating as a net-zero company puts an internal price on our greenhouse gas emissions, creating a financial incentive to support decisions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, from specifying high-efficiency IT equipment to sourcing clean and renewable energy. 

This commitment builds on our existing sustainability programs and goal of sourcing 100 percent renewable energy for our global operations by FY2022. It will take time to reach 100 percent renewable energy and our long-term goal of a low-carbon global economy, but we understand that the world needs action now. 

At the 2018 Global Climate Action Summit, Salesforce announced the launch of the Step Up Declaration, an alliance dedicated to harnessing the power of emerging technologies and the fourth industrial revolution to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions across all economic sectors and ensure a climate turning point by 2020. Salesforce is proud to have been the first company to sign the pledge and is now joined by 24 other companies committed to taking action and working collaboratively to affect change. We know we’re most effective when we work together, which is why one of our Step Up commitments is to work with our vendors to set their own robust climate targets. As part of our commitment to science-based targets, by 2024, Salesforce will work with suppliers responsible for 60% of our total Scope 3 emissions to set their own emissions reduction targets.

Wind turbines spinning.

We Support Sustainable Development Projects to Offset Our Footprint

In addition to our renewable energy work, to offset our climate impact and operate as a net-zero company, we support sustainable development projects through the purchase of carbon credits. Each carbon credit represents the removal/avoidance of one metric ton of carbon dioxide (or its equivalent) from the atmosphere. 

When we look for sustainable development projects, we look for projects that maximize environmental and social benefits. Additionally, projects go through independent third-party verification to ensure that they adhere to strict internationally recognized methodologies for quantifying emissions reductions, such as the Gold Standard

One of the projects Salesforce supports is Proyecto Mirador, a clean cookstove project in Honduras, which has deployed over 155,000 cookstoves, resulting in 1 million tonnes of emission reductions—equivalent to taking over 200,000 passenger vehicles off the road for 1 year. Proyecto Mirador uses Salesforce to help deploy the cookstoves and ensure proper maintenance. In addition to providing clean cookstoves, this project has improved the health and well-being of families and employs more than 150 people. Access to clean, safe cookstoves enables women to spend less time sourcing materials to support their families, and more time on education, family planning, and other activities. When women are educated and empowered, our communities thrive.

Another project Salesforce supports is 1t.org. In January 2020, the World Economic Forum and partners, including Salesforce, launched 1t.org to connect, empower, and mobilize a global reforestation community of millions, unleashing their potential to act at an unprecedented scale and speed to conserve, restore, and grow 1 trillion trees within this decade. 

Salesforce is supporting the 1t.org movement in two key ways:

  • Contributing our technology in the form of the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) UpLink, a new digital platform built to bring together stakeholders of all sizes to solve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, which include taking on climate change.
  • Commiting to support and mobilize the conservation and restoration of 100 million trees over the next decade.

By conserving, restoring, and planting 1 trillion trees by 2030, we can help slow the planet’s rising temperatures, as well as stimulate biodiversity and revitalize some of the planet’s ecosystem. Nature based solutions (NBS) like reforestation and carbon sequestration are an important part of addressing climate change, but we know we must also quickly drive down emissions in key sectors to create a viable 1.5°C future. NBS need to be incorporated as part of a broader strategy to conserve and restore the planet’s ecosystems.

In order to create a better future for ourselves and our planet, it will require a coordinated effort to get change-makers on the same page.

We Partner with Innovative Organizations to Drive Change

We’re proud to work with responsible business partners, vendors, and customers that uphold their own commitment to sustainability. Many Salesforce customers are already doing amazing work using our platform to improve the state of the world, delivering innovative solutions to address equality and sustainability challenges.  


ADIDAS 

Salesforce customer ADIDAS partnered with the ocean initiative organization Parley on a new line of athletic gear, including shoes, swimwear, and other athletic wear, with the goal of preventing plastic from entering oceans by instead transforming it into high-performance sportswear. 

Salesforce customer, Adidas


Interface 

Salesforce partners with vendors that are making strides in environmental progress as well. Interface is the world's largest manufacturer of commercial carpet tile and is setting the pace for development of modular carpet using materials and processes that take less from the environment. Salesforce uses Interface carpet in our offices around the globe, from Salesforce Tower in San Francisco to the London office and everywhere in between. Interface also uses Salesforce to bring more sustainable products into the built environment. 

Salesforce customer, Interface


DocuSign

Since its founding in 2003, DocuSign has helped hundreds of millions of users around the world connect and automate how they prepare, sign, act on, and manage agreements, all while reducing their environmental impact. This January, DocuSign launched DocuSign for Forests—a broad commitment to protect the world's forests. DocuSign invites new and existing customers to improve their environmental and paper-use practices by taking a pledge at docusign.com/forests and by moving more of their paper-based processes onto DocuSign. In return, the company will donate an additional 1% of the expanded revenue from those customers to forest-protection causes, on top of $1.5M already committed by the company and the DocuSign IMPACT Foundation. DocuSign has also embedded a calculator into its core eSignature product to showcase how people are reducing waste and positively impacting the environment.

Salesforce Company, DocuSign


Unilever 

Unilever is another Salesforce customer driving positive change and sustainable growth through its business, brands, and partners. The Unilever Sustainable Living Plan sets ambitious targets to inspire innovation. Some of its recent highlights include: 

  • Testing new investment models and partnerships to help deliver the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Supporting new technology that gives consumers greater information about what's in their products.
  • Launching, acquiring, and developing brands taking stands on packaging, sourcing, and waste.

Salesforce customer, Unilever

Sustainability Cloud - We Help Business Take Timely Climate Change Action

Salesforce Sustainability Cloud.

With climate change being one of the biggest, most important and most complex challenges humans have ever faced, we all have a role to play in order to deliver a healthier planet for future generations. It was with this idea that Sustainability Cloud was born. With Salesforce Sustainability Cloud, businesses are able to: 

  • Measure greenhouse gases with trusted analytics from a trusted platform. Analyzing carbon emissions from energy usage and company travel can be daunting and time-consuming. But with all your data flowing directly onto one platform, you can efficiently quantify your carbon footprint. Formulate a climate action plan for your company from a single source of truth, built on our trusted and secure data platform.
  • Take action with data-driven insights. Prove to customers, employees, and potential investors your commitment to carbon-conscious and sustainable practices. Offer regulatory agencies a clear snapshot of your energy usage patterns. Extrapolate energy consumption and track carbon emissions with cutting-edge analytics — and take action.
  • Tackle carbon accounting audits in weeks instead of months. Carbon analysis can be an overwhelming time commitment, even a barrier to action for companies that want to get it right. Use preloaded datasets from the U.S. EPA, IPCC, and others to accurately assess your carbon accounting. Streamline your data gathering and climate action plan with embedded guides and user flows.
  • Empower decision makers with executive-ready dashboard data. Evaluate corporate environmental impact with rich data visualization and dashboards. Track energy patterns and emission trends, then make the business case to executives. Once an organization understands its carbon footprint, decision makers can begin to drive sustainability solutions.

We Invest in Organizations Focused on Sustainable Initiatives

Just as Salesforce revolutionized corporate philanthropy in the form of Pledge 1%, we are now in the position to lead the way for the next evolution of this movement—investing in companies positively impacting the world. The Salesforce Impact Fund is uniquely positioned to catalyze the growth of companies that are building products and solutions to benefit society and sustainability. Angaza is just one example of a venture that reflects our values and commitment to sustainability. This pay-as-you-go technology platform enables manufacturers and distributors to make energy products more affordable to the world's one billion off-grid consumers. Measurabl is another venture that positively impacts the environment, making cloud-based software tools that collect data, format accurate sustainability reports, and suggest opportunities to improve. 

Join the Movement

We know we don’t have all the answers, and there isn’t one way to solve these problems. But we hope you’re inspired by our sustainability journey and join us! Take action on climate change by joining thousands of other companies in the We Mean Business Coalition. 

Resources