Decarbonization Is In

Decarbonization Is In

Carbon reduction is becoming an exceptionally fashionable business trend, displaying several key signals about companies. It reflects a progressive company culture, an understanding of consumer demands, awareness of environmental impact, a willingness to innovate, and a forward-thinking position on global energy needs. So, it’s clear why some of Indiana’s largest companies are taking it seriously.

Over the last few months, two leading entities in their respective industries have announced plans to eliminate their carbon emissions over the next 30 years. Given their status, it’s likely that we’re going to start seeing other companies following suit before long.


Diesel Manufacturer Targeting Net-Zero Carbon

Columbus-based Cummins Inc. was ranked as the largest company headquartered in Indiana last year by career data firm Zippia, which based its findings on employment figures. Cummins produces diesel engines and, interestingly, announced a new strategy to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Off the bat, one might wonder why an engine manufacturer would choose this direction. Company officials explained it all has to do with the bigger picture.

“Our communities and our business depend on our collective response to improve the health of the planet while creating prosperity for all,” said Tom Linebarger, Cummins Inc. Chairman and CEO. “It’s clear that government, businesses, nongovernmental organizations, and communities must unite behind swift, decisive action to address the environmental threats we face.”

Components of the new plan, called PLANET 2050, were created to meet or exceed the goals in the United Nations Paris agreement on climate change. It will focus on three priority areas: addressing climate change and air emissions, using natural resources in the most sustainable way, and improving communities. This represents the biggest environmental sustainability strategy Cummins has ever undertaken.

The company detailed eight specific goals it has timed out to 2030, the first two of which are science-based targets.

  • Reduce absolute greenhouse gas emissions from facilities and operations by 50%.
  • Reduce absolute lifetime greenhouse gas emissions from newly sold products by 25%.
  • Partner with customers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from products in the field by 55 million metric tons.
  • Reduce volatile organic compounds emissions from paint and coating operations by 50%.
  • Create a circular lifecycle plan for every part to use less, use better, use again.
  • Generate 25% less waste in facilities and operations as a percent of revenue.
  • Reuse or responsibly recycle 100% of packaging plastics and eliminate single-use plastics in dining facilities, employee amenities, and events.
  • Reduce absolute water consumption in facilities and operations by 30%.

The company has said it will be making investments to achieve these goals, including new technology and capabilities. Additionally, Cummins has joined the CEO Water Mandate, which is focused on addressing global water challenges through corporate water stewardship, in partnership with the United Nations, governments, civil society organizations, and other stakeholders.


Utility Firm Also Targeting Next-Zero Carbon

Duke Energy, whose coverage territory encompasses the bulk of Indiana’s counties in addition to their position as one of the nation’s largest electric providers, announced the goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions from electric generation by 2050. Duke will also be ramping up its existing goal to cut carbon dioxide emissions by half or more from 2005 levels by 2030 – which has already been reduced by 31%. Company officials stated that sustained, low natural gas prices and declining costs for renewables and storage have allowed the company to accelerate their objectives.

According to Duke, this move represents one of the most significant commitments to reducing carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. power sector. The company expects this reduction will be possible using today’s technology but will of course be keeping an eye on future developments to improve the process.

“A diverse mix of renewables, nuclear, natural gas, hydro and energy efficiency are all part of this vision, and we’ll take advantage of economical solutions to continue that progress. In the longer-term, innovation and new technologies will be critical to a net-zero carbon future,” Lynn Good, chairman, president and CEO.

“Getting to net-zero carbon emissions, while ensuring energy remains reliable and affordable, will require new technologies. That’s the very reason we need to act now,” Good said. “We must continue leveraging today’s technologies while sustaining investment in innovation for this vision to become reality.”

Officials said that transitioning an entire energy grid is going to be a major undertaking. Key steps in the plan include:

  • Collaboration and alignment with states and stakeholders.
  • Doubling the company’s portfolio of solar, wind and other renewables by 2025. Low-cost natural gas deployment will continue to speed the transition from coal. New natural gas infrastructure will be required to fuel this transition and balance renewables. Continued expansions will be made to energy storage, energy efficiency, and electric vehicle infrastructure.
  • Continued operation of existing carbon-free technologies, including nuclear and renewables.
  • Modernizing the electric grid.
  • Advocating for public policy that advances technology and innovation.


They’ll be Trendsetters

Companies as large as Duke and Cummins are definitely going to be trendsetters for other firms in their industries, and likely beyond, when it comes to environmental and energy efforts. Carbon-cutting plans on scales like these will provide a model for other companies for how they should style their own efforts. Also, continued investments are likely to only take this movement further.

In other words, decarbonization is en vogue today and likely will be for years to come. We’re sure to see more firms on the runway as things progress.