Editor’s Note: The following was originally published on LinkedIn by Chip Bergh, President and CEO of Levi Strauss & Co.
At Levi Strauss & Co. we’re acutely aware that climate change, if left unchecked, will have devastating effects on our business, the communities in which we operate, and the world at large. That’s why, when the Paris talks were underway in December 2015, I joined leaders of several global apparel companies, including those from some of our biggest competitors, in asking world leaders to sign a strong global climate deal.
Our world leaders met that call, and nearly 200 countries signed an historic agreement to address climate change. Now the United States is backing out of that agreement. At Levi Strauss & Co., we think that’s a big mistake. Leaving the Paris Accord puts us – and our U.S. peers – at a huge disadvantage.
I’ve been asked by employees, partners and prospective employees what we plan to do now. As the leader of a global company with a longstanding reputation for never choosing easy over right, I can say that Levi Strauss & Co. will continue to drive efforts to reduce our carbon footprint and combat the effects of climate change. The Administration’s decision to back out of the Paris Accord will not change Levi Strauss & Co.’s commitment to reducing our impact on the environment; and we will continue to pursue technologies that can reduce the apparel industry’s environmental impact.
As we see it, mitigating climate change and transitioning to a low-carbon future are vital to the health and well-being of the people who make and wear our products, as well as to the future availability of the materials we use to manufacture our products. Pulling out of the Paris agreement is a step backward.
At LS&Co., we’re committed to reducing our emissions by 25 percent and using 20 percent renewable energy by 2020. We’re also working to significantly decrease our water footprint by increasing the percentage of our products made with our water-saving Water<Less® finishing techniques to 80 percent by 2020; and migrating to 100 percent sustainable cotton by 2020.
Climate change is one of the most important issues of our time. I believe we are faced today with a choice – we either act responsibly and move to address the damage we’ve done to our planet, or we act irresponsibly by failing to ensure a climate-resilient future. At Levi Strauss & Co., we will choose responsibility, and I hope that other business leaders will stand with us. Our future depends on it.
Follow Chip on LinkedIn.