Cosmetics giant Kao joins The Climate Pledge

Tokyo-based cosmetics and consumer goods giant Kao has become the latest multinational to sign up to The Climate Pledge, the commitment co-founded by Amazon and environmental advocacy group Global Optimism that requires corporates to achieve net zero emissions by 2040.

As a signatory of The Climate Pledge, Kao has also agreed to measure and report its greenhouse gas emissions on a regular basis and implement decarbonisation strategies in line with the goals of Paris Agreement.

It said it will take action to slash its emissions and neutralize any remaining emissions with “additional, quantifiable, real, permanent, and socially beneficial offsets” in order to achieve net zero annual carbon emissions by 2040, which is 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement targets of 2050.

The announcement builds on previous targets from the company, which saw it commit to reducing carbon emissions to net zero by 2040 and become a carbon negative company by 2050.

Kao, which owns brands such as Molton Brown, Sensei, and RMK, said that sustainability is “at the core” of its corporate philosophy and ESG strategy, which it has dubbed the Kirei Lifestyle Plan – a company-wide sustainable initiative which it launched in 2019.

Deriving from the Japanese word ‘kirei’, which describes something that is clean, well-ordered and beautiful, the Kirei Lifestyle Plan encompasses three main pillars: “Making my everyday more beautiful”, “Making thoughtful choices for society, and “Making the world health and cleaner”.

These pillars are backed by 19 key leadership actions, which include decarbonisation and the development of clean and environmentally safe products.

In order to achieve its global goal to reduce its carbon emissions to be net zero by 2040, Kao said that it is accelerating its carbon reduction pathway to transition to non-fossil fuel energy sources, implementing measures to further reduce the environmental impact of its products across their entire lifecycle, and proactively introducing innovative new clean technologies.

As part of these measures, Kao installed the largest photovoltaic power generating facilities for on-site power generation at its Sakata Plant in 2021.

Since last year, the company also announced it was also able to further reduce its Scope 1 and 2 direct emissions and increase its use of renewable energy, achieving 100 per cent renewable energy at all 55 of its logistics sites in Japan, its Sumida Complex, and its Sakata Plant.

In addition, Kao said that in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) region all factories and owned offices operated by its Kao Consumer Products division have been using 100 per cent renewable electricity since 2014. It also managed to reduce energy across its estate by 31 per cent since 2010. And in 2022, Kao made its production and administrative facilities in Germany and in the UK climate neutral with a compensation program to offset currently unavoidable emissions.

Through to 2025, Kao said it now plans to further reduce its carbon footprint in the EMEA region by continuing to cut water consumption, installing LED lights in its facilities, switching to low energy consuming cold mixing process, and reducing waste at its production sites. By 2030, it said it plans to replace any fossil fuel heating at its sites with alternative heating technologies.

“In order to achieve the goals set by our Kirei Lifestyle Plan, we are fully committed to becoming net zero carbon by 2040,” said Dave Muenz, managing executive officer and senior vice president for ESG at Kao.

“Beyond our own efforts, we believe that strong alliances and partnerships make all the difference. By signing The Climate Pledge, we are part of a meaningful network of some of the world’s largest and most important companies that act today for a better tomorrow.”

The latest signatory to the pledge was welcomed by Sally Fouts, global lead for The Climate Pledge at Amazon. “Urgent innovation and collaboration from the private sector, across regions and industries, is critical in order to decarbonise the global economy at scale, and The Climate Pledge offers the opportunity to join a community of leading businesses, all committed to transformational action on climate, she said.

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