#CleanPowerPlan: How 5 Big Brands Communicate About Climate Change

Coal-fired power plants like this one are a target of the new regulations.
Coal-fired power plants like this one are a target of the new regulations.

In what is being called the country's strongest-ever action on climate change, President Obama announced the Clean Power Plan on Monday. The plan introduces regulations designed to cut carbon emissions from power plants, specifically those that use coal, and the White House hopes it will drive more aggressive investment in clean energy technologies.

The struggle to understand and abate the human-induced impact on the climate has always unfolded with divisiveness, and the Clean Power Plan promises to be no different. While hundreds of businesses are backing the initiative, some corporations, states and utility companies are preparing to challenge the new regulations.

From a brand standpoint, communicating about a highly charged issue such as climate change isn't easy. Let's take a look at how five big brands that support President Obama's Clean Power Plan communicate about climate change.

  • Adidas: The global sportswear manufacturer took a major step for sustainability in June when it announced a partnership with Parley for the Oceans and introduced a prototype for the world's first shoe made from recycled ocean plastic. The company hopes to reduce emissions by reducing the amount of new plastic created. "Adidas has long been a leader in sustainability," Adidas executive board member Eric Liedtke said during the announcement, "But this partnership allows us to tap into new areas and create innovative materials and products for our athletes. We invite everyone to join us on this journey to clean up the oceans."
  • Ben & Jerry's: In May, Ben & Jerry's announced an internal carbon tax of $10 for every metric ton of greenhouse gas emissions it produces. "We know that to avoid the worst effects of climate change, we’ve got to shift our whole economy away from fossil fuels, and we have to start now," the company said in a blog post. "We need governments everywhere to commit to putting a price on carbon pollution, and turn investment in dirty carbon into the clean energy future we all want."
  • Coca-Cola: In 2013, Coca-Cola pledged to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 25 percent. "At Coca-Cola, we’re committed to integrating sustainability into the very heart of the enterprise, where our efforts create value for our shareowners and the communities we proudly serve," wrote Bea Perez, chief sustainability officer at The Coca-Cola Co. in this year's company sustainability report. "We believe the majority of innovation over the next decade will happen at the intersection of sustainability and the supply chain," she said.
  • Staples: This year marked the fifth consecutive year that Staples has been awarded the Energy Star Partner of the Year Award. The company has pledged to reduce energy intensity 25 percent by 2020 and to reduce its carbon footprint 50 percent by 2025. Upon received the award, Bob Valair, director of energy and environmental management for Staples, said, "It’s exciting to see the impact we’ve made through energy efficiency in our portfolio of buildings and we remain committed to continuing our work to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect the environment."
  • Unilever: Unilever recently announced a one-year, international partnership with the World Wildlife Foundation to engage consumers in the fight against deforestation and help protect a million trees. CEO Paul Polman explained the initiative, saying, "As a business it is crucial that we operate sustainably and take action to help consumers live sustainably. It’s a moral imperative and a business one—to be here for the long term."

Follow Brian Greene on Twitter: @bw_greene