The world continues to experience the environmental and social implications of a changing climate and increasingly understands its potential to disrupt global supply chains, hamper economies, displace people and exacerbate conflict.1,2
We know this decade is critical and that our response must be substantial if we hope to avert the worst implications of climate change. That understanding is fundamental to Kimberly-Clark’s goal to shrink our carbon footprint across all our brands, while simultaneously fulfilling our mission to make lives better.
We aspire to help avert the worst impacts of climate change, both within our own operations and across our value chain. Our customers, consumers, and investors expect Kimberly-Clark to respond with strong, specific plans and actions. That's why we committed to aggressive, science-based GHG emissions reduction targets that are aligned with the Paris Climate Agreement and have been validated by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). Meeting these goals will contribute to holding global temperature rise to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.
Over the last several years we have executed on our aggressive energy and climate goals and continue to increase our ambition. In 2020, after achieving our 2022 GHG reduction goal early, we announced our current 2030 SBTi-approved goals, to reduce the carbon footprint of our products and brands by reducing our direct and indirect (Scope 1 + 2) emissions by 50% and value chain emissions (Scope 3) for purchased goods & services and end of life treatment of sold product by 20% versus a 2015 base year.
1 - Swiss Re Institute research on the Economics of Climate Change
2 - NOAA report on climate change impacts
In 2021, Kimberly Clark made significant progress towards our 2030 target. Through our focus on increasing renewable electricity capacity in North America via wind and solar power purchase agreements, we decreased our emissions from operations by 7.9 percentage points to achieve a 40.7% Scope 1 & 2 GHG emissions reduction from a 2015 base year. Along with these efforts, our work to lower energy consumption in our manufacturing operations resulted in a 12.3% reduction in energy intensity from our 2015 baseline. We achieved a 6.3% Scope 3 GHG emissions reduction with focus on purchased goods and services and end-of-life treatment of sold products (both from a 2015 base year).
Our successful reductions have been driven by the adoption of leading energy efficiency and resource conservation practices, expansion in the use of alternative energy to power our facilities, and engagement with internal and external stakeholders to reduce emissions throughout our value chain.
Kimberly-Clark uses a lean energy strategy to drive a culture of energy conservation at our manufacturing sites. An energy management system is embedded into each facility’s daily accountability process, positioning energy efficiency as a priority at the same level as safety, quality, delivery, and cost.
Our carbon footprint strategy also involves significant investment in renewable energy generation. We look for suitable conditions for installing solar at our facilities, make large-scale power purchase agreements of clean electricity to further reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, and leverage evolving decarbonization technologies to get the most out of the fossil fuels we still employ.
Many of our manufacturing facilities employ cogeneration units that burn natural gas to generate electricity and reuse the waste heat to produce steam for use in the manufacturing process.
As part of our 2030 SBTi commitment, Kimberly-Clark will continue to pursue working with strategic partners to develop and install thermal decarbonization technologies to power our high-thermal-load facilities around the world.
We want to continuously improve sustainability and cost efficiency of our products, so we identify and operationalize capital projects that deliver manufacturing cost savings through improved energy efficiency and reduced consumption. We aim to uncover new opportunities for innovation through energy assessments, workshops, best practices analyses, and benchmarking, in parallel with our lean energy initiatives.
Our GHG reduction goals extend beyond our in-house operations to include indirect value chain (Scope 3) emissions from our suppliers and customers. We’re aiming to reduce Scope 3 emissions from purchased goods, services and end-of-life treatment of sold products by 20% by 2030 compared to our 2015 baseline. Our teams collaborate closely on initiatives to reduce our plastic and fiber footprints and ensure that all business decisions take into consideration their life cycle carbon impacts. The Scope 3 emissions implications of actions taken in these areas are significant, so it’s critical that we have a strong understanding of co-benefits or trade-offs that may exist.