By Maura Forrest
June 11, 2015
IKEA has announced plans to spend one billion euros ($1.13 billion) on renewable energy projects and measures to help the poorest nations adapt to climate change.
Of the total, 600 million euros will be invested in wind and solar power installations, adding to the 314 wind turbines IKEA operates and the 700,000 solar panels installed on its roofs.
The remaining 400 million euros will be spent helping communities in underdeveloped countries cope with the impacts of climate change, including floods and droughts. That money will be invested through the IKEA Foundation, the company’s charitable branch.
The decision comes after an internal review last year found that only 41 per cent of IKEA’s customers see the company as socially and environmentally responsible, well below its 2015 goal of 70 per cent.
CEO Peter Agnefjall told Reuters the move will “absolutely not” increase prices at the world’s largest furniture retailer. He said the new measures will be “good for customers, good for the climate and good for IKEA too.”
IKEA currently operates wind farms in nine countries, including Sweden, Denmark, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada, where it is the largest retail wind energy investor.
In Canada, IKEA owns a 46-megawatt wind farm in Pincher Creek, Alberta, with the potential capacity to power 32 IKEA stores. Three of its Ontario stores are equipped with rooftop solar panels, and its newest Canadian stores have been built with renewable infrastructure, including geothermal installations and rainwater harvesting technology.
And more sustainability initiatives may be on the way for IKEA Canada, as the company recently announced plans to expand in Canada this year.
IKEA’s one billion euro commitment is another indication that many companies are pushing for better environmental standards, even when governments are slow to act.
This week, 80 companies signed a letter to urge Prime Minister David Cameron to take stronger action on climate change. Those companies include IKEA, Tesco, and Coca-Cola.
And last week, Europe’s six largest energy companies, including BP and Shell, called for a carbon-pricing system that would force enterprises to cut emissions.
IKEA has much to gain from improving its environmental image, as it singlehandedly uses one per cent of the world’s commercially logged wood. The company plans to become energy-independent and to plant as many trees as it fells by 2020.
Photo Credit: Ashley Bristowe