Salesforce Aims to Transform and Expedite the Path to Decarbonization
Through collaboration, education and mobilization, Salesforce is driving climate action.
Inspiration for change
“The consequences of global temperatures rising more than 1.5 C are extreme and far-reaching for nature, humans, businesses and our collective future,” according to the 2021 Salesforce Climate Action Plan. “Scientists agree that globally we must reduce emissions by 50% by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by mid-century. That’s why Salesforce is committed to doing all we can to limit global warming to 1.5 C. We are rapidly advancing our sustainability program, integrating climate action into the core of our business to ultimately deliver on this shared, planetary goal of a more sustainable and equitable future.”
Salesforce believes it will take a collaborative effort across governments, scientists, investors, businesses and individuals to combat climate change and that making positive changes and adjustments only within its own company is not enough.
“We can only succeed if the world succeeds; it’s not enough to focus within our own four walls,” Salesforce stated in the 2021 report. “And there is no time to waste. Inaction is the most costly strategy of all.”
Salesforce is targeting a 1.5 C future by focusing on six sustainability priorities: emissions reduction, carbon removal, trillion trees and ecosystem restoration, education and mobilization, innovation, and regulation and policy.
Renewable energy milestone
Salesforce reached a significant milestone in 2021 when it achieved 100% renewable energy.
“Our work won’t stop now that we have reached 100% renewable energy,” the company stated in the report. “The ultimate goal is something bigger and more complex, because matching our fossil fuel use alone won’t be enough. This is why, through behavior change and policy advocacy, we continue to work toward a future where clean and renewable energy is powering our operations and the world around the clock.”
The net-zero journey
Salesforce boasts it has net-zero emissions today. So what has that journey looked like, and what’s next?
“We’ve been publicly committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 since the Paris Agreement,” according to the report. “In 2017 we were proud to hit net-zero emissions for our operations and start delivering all of our customers a carbon neutral cloud. In 2019 we included all emissions from business travel and employee commuting, and in 2021 we expanded our boundary for net zero to include our entire value chain by reducing emissions, achieving 100% renewable energy for our operations and investing in high-quality carbon credits to help offset our remaining emissions.”
Salesforce says it is taking responsibility for its environmental impact through emissions reductions, specifically in categories like remote work, infrastructure, business travel and supply chain.
“We have reached net-zero emissions today by compensating for residual emissions across our value chain in FY22 [fiscal year 2022],” the report stated. “We aren’t waiting until 2050, 2040 or 2030 to compensate for all of our Scope 1, 2 and 3 [emissions].”
Salesforce continues to work toward “long-term, systems-level change to intractable problems,” such as decarbonization of entire electric grids, but realizes this is a larger issue than it can solve alone and encourages everyone to do their part.
High on every employee’s mind the past two years is the desire or current flexibility to work remotely (or perhaps on a hybrid schedule). Salesforce is targeting a 50% remote work reduction in emissions relative to business as usual (i.e., based on occupied space growth projections prior to COVID-19).
“Salesforce’s vision is to have the world’s lowest carbon, most sustainable work-from-anywhere flex model, resulting in at least a 50% reduction in absolute emissions relative to business as usual in FY31 [fiscal year 2031] while continuing our ambitious growth,” according to the report. “We achieve this through a strategically integrated, sustainable built environment program focused on deep reductions in embodied and operational carbon emissions. For our real estate, deep decarbonization means driving down emissions from the creation and use of our buildings, spaces, materials and the services that support them. Our real estate showcases what can be achieved through leading supply chain practices and innovative processes that we export to the broader community and inspire others to act.”
Of that 50%, a 5% reduction is the result of a flex workspace, which incorporates an increased home energy emissions and optimized occupied space growth due to the company’s work-from-anywhere strategy.
A 15% reduction is the result of sustainable buildings—100% of new offices are all-electric, and the company expects energy efficiency increases by 20% by fiscal year 2031.
A 30% reduction is due to a sustainable commute, meaning a reduced commute as a result of the work-from-anywhere strategy. The company is also targeting 100% electric shuttles by fiscal year 2031 and other sustainable commute strategies.
Additional sustainability goals
Salesforce is also targeting a 75% infrastructure reduction in emissions relative to business as usual by 2030. As part of that equation, a 70% reduction is due to the supplier reductions, which include absolute emission reduction and renewable energy as a result of science-based target (SBT) commitments and carbon-neutral products and services. The remaining 5% reduction is the result of absolute reductions (i.e., efficiency gains, reduced carbon to serve, and “greening the grid” impacts).
Salesforce also aims to have a 50% reduction in business travel by 2030 (relative to fiscal year 2020), and 45% of this reduction is due to the company’s digital first culture and policy. The remaining 5% is the result of mode switching, which includes electrifying ground transportation, optimizing travel booking technology and moving from air to rail where possible.
The company also has a goal to hit a 90% supplier enablement reduction in emissions relative to business as usual.
“Our vision is to be the leading example of accelerating climate action and value chain decarbonization through strategic supplier enablement,” Salesforce stated in its report. “We’ve committed that suppliers representing 60% of our Scope 3 greenhouse-gas emissions will set their own SBTs by FY25 [fiscal year 2025], and we are invested in supporting our suppliers in achieving their targets.”
As part of that 90% reduction goal, 55% is the result of supplier set SBTs and 35% is due to carbon-neutral products and services
Salesforce also aims to enhance the world’s natural systems to sequester carbon from the atmosphere.
“Our planet has two lungs—forests and oceans—drawing down carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and producing oxygen in turn,” the company stated in the report. “Human activity is changing the effectiveness of our planet’s lungs, which is why Salesforce is committed to protecting and restoring these vital ecosystems.”
Salesforce is a founding partner of 1t.org, which is part of the World Economic Forum’s efforts to accelerate nature-based solutions, and its mission is to mobilize a global reforestation community.
“We’re inspired to support the sequestration of 100 gigatons of carbon from the atmosphere, mobilizing 1 trillion trees and protecting the ocean, one of the largest carbon sinks on our planet,” Salesforce stated in the report. “Salesforce set a goal to support and mobilize the conservation, restoration and growth of 100 million trees by the end of 2030.”
So far, Salesforce has supported 20-plus projects worldwide and funded more than 40 million trees.
“We hope to continue to catalyze change on a much bigger scale by demonstrating, enabling and advocating for it,” the company said.