Measuring Progress on Environmental Sustainability

by , | Feb 16, 2024 | Sustainability

Jim Cahill

Jim Cahill

Chief Blogger, Social Marketing Leader

Emerson receives A- rating for Climate Change in 2023Objectives need their measurements to understand the progress being made. The organization CDP runs an environmental impact disclosure program that allows global companies, governments, and other organizations to manage their environmental impacts.

Emerson Chief Sustainability Officer Mike Train joins me to discuss Emerson’s progress as measured through the CDP program and ways it’s helping its customers drive their environmental performance.

Give the podcast a listen, visit the CDP site to learn more, and visit the Environmental Sustainability section on for more on Emerson’s commitment to driving environmental sustainability improvements.


Jim: Hi everyone. I’m Jim Cahill with another Emerson Automation Experts podcast. Today, we’ll be discussing recognition of Emerson’s actions to improve the sustainability of its global operations, as well as that of our suppliers and customers. Today, I am joined by Emerson’s Chief Sustainability Officer Mike Train, to discuss the progress Emerson is making on our path to Net Zero and the work of organizations like the CDP to help assess this progress.

Welcome Mike.

Mike: Hey Jim. Good to be with you.

Jim: Well, it’s great to have you. I know we did one of these in the past, and I look forward to our conversation here today. Well, I heard Emerson recently received a rating from the CDP, which, as I understand it, is a not-for-profit charity that runs the global disclosure system for investors, companies, cities, states, and regions to manage their environmental impacts.

Can you tell our listeners a little more about this organization and their mission?

Mike: Yeah, sure. Jim, the CDP has been around now for a couple of decades and is really the leading environmental disclosure system in the world. I think there’s over 20,000 companies or something now that, report information through the CDP platform.

We at Emerson have been reporting for a long time, since 2010, and have worked our way through to being kind of fully using the platform and all the guidance that’s built into it for how to run a better or best-practice environmental program.

Jim: I understand we have an A- rating with the CDP, so what does that signify for our organization’s climate change efforts, and how does it align with our broader sustainability objectives?

Mike: Yeah, no. Very pleased to receive our rating again this year of an A minus.

It represents that we have a very strong program. We have very full disclosure. We have a set of targets that we report to. We’ve done some of the work like climate scenario analysis and planning for the future. Kind of all of those great elements that are built into CDP. So very much appreciate the rating.

And I think for us, it represents a few things. One is the CDP rating is something that we kind of rally around in the company. It helps bring all of our stakeholders together for conversations. It helps, again, guide our improvement actions over time.

Given that that they rate and they share it with the world, it gives you a good sense of our leadership now in the environmental sustainability areas. I’d say it’s also supportive of conveying to a wide set of stakeholders, our customers, our suppliers, our investors, communities that we operate in, that we are committed to a very strong environmental sustainability program. We’re making our own contribution and, you know, we’re part of that larger dialogue in the world about how we get to a net zero world, if you will, in the future.

You know, through that CDP reporting mechanism, we share, again, targets that I mentioned. Our company has net zero targets, for example, in GHG emissions. With a near-term set of targets around 2030 to get to net zero operations, our footprint, our scope, one or two activities, and a longer-term, 2045, inclusive of our value chain net zero. So I think again, the CDP kind of built in all of the best approaches. They fully sort of embraced the TCFD (Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures) recommendations for how to manage environmental activities. And, it’s a great signal, that we’re on the right track, I think, to working the things that we need to do.

We still have many things to do in the future. We’re still very focused, obviously, on making our reductions, making investments to make reductions, and also participating through our portfolio in a lot of the activities that the world’s counting on to make the improvement in our collective roadmaps.

Jim: Yeah, it definitely sounds like it’s a journey, and getting this rating, I think, just helps assess our path along the way, like as we went through school and got our grades to help assess how we’re doing along the way. So which specific practices or innovations do you believe had the most significant impact on our climate change strategy?

Mike: I would say, you know, first of all declaring externally, publicly, openly, that you have a set of targets and you have viable pathways or programs to work to make those targets. Which again, those are the types of things that you lay out in your CDP reporting. So I think that part’s absolutely important. I think the work we do to engage our organization. And reflecting that in the response to, in the CDP platform is super important. And, you know, none of us can do this individually. We’ve got to work as a team, broad team. And I think those elements are really important.

I think the management and the leadership elements, how we’re organized, how we govern, what’s the governance for our environmental sustainability activities, what are our strategies, what are our metrics, presenting those really key measures that you bring and that heartbeat of doing that every year, bringing that, bringing that forward, and again, having that all built into the organization so they can bring those metrics forward every year. That’s a big part of, I think, what the contribution is from CDP.

You know, I think the rating recognizes a lot of the different best practices and that we’re making great progress. Obviously, an A minus means we didn’t get an A, so, you know, I’m still striving to go farther, and I think that’s a great attitude for companies as we look ahead.

Jim: Yeah, we definitely want that 4.0, so we got to just keep going till we get there with it. But you know, we can celebrate this milestone where we’re at. How will this achievement influence our future sustainability strategies and actions, I guess, to further reduce our environmental impact?

Mike: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Jim: Let’s see. I guess turning from what we do internally here at Emerson, what are some ways we’re helping our customers in the manufacturing and production industries drive their sustainability improvement initiatives?

Mike: Yeah, I think that’s a great, great question. Many of our customers – we have thousands and thousands of customers around the world–and of course, they also report to the CDP. They have also established targets. They’re also trying to make their progress.

And I think the great thing about what we do and what we can be helpful with is providing that automation capabilities so that customers can measure so that customers can optimize, so they can maybe reduce their energy and reduce the emissions associated with that energy.

They can think about starting to utilize some of the pillars of activities in energy transition so maybe standing up and trialing some hydrogen projects or having a carbon capture system or, in some cases with some of our customers, making a biofuel from a waste. Those types of activities. So, our portfolio is super important, whether it’s in the measuring sense of that, in the controlling the operation, what’s going on physically, in that sense, the control systems where usually our customers put their logic of what it is that they’re doing or manufacturing and how they manage all of those things in a real-time basis.

And then a lot of software. We have a lot of software that’s related to analysis and simulation and training, recipe management, and just all of the things that you can do to make yourselves better and probably look at the metrics that you would consider to be the environmental metrics and then the ways that you can make improvements in those.

Jim: Yeah, I think you raise a good point. It used to be you put in enough measurements and everything just to get the process to run smoothly for you, but now with what technology has enabled all the diagnostics and everything else to be able to do things like measure the energy efficiency in real-time and optimize around that and other parts, I think that’s really significant. I guess looking forward, what’s next for us at Emerson to really drive our performance in this area even further.

Mike: Jim, I think there’s a couple of things that we’re focused on what’s next in the one to two to three-year timeframe. Things that we’re activating. One thing is and I think this is an issue every company has, is just getting your data to a better place. A lot of effort around capturing more metrics. Having the visibility on those, being able to present those to our employees, our management teams around the world.

There’s a lot of data work going on. And I think that’s a space where lots of companies are involved in those things. We’ve also got regulatory activities where there’s gonna be more reporting required about either some of the materials maybe that we put into the world as a product or some of your activities. Certainly, emissions are a good example of that.

We’ve also introduced a zero waste of landfill target, which requires a significant amount of diversion away from sending something to landfills and having good options for what you do with waste in your facilities. So we’ve embarked on that journey. Again, that’s a data that’s having a program around that’s doing waste treasure hunts, which kind of emulate our energy, treasure hunts, where we go, work with our facilities to make their improvements, see those opportunities.

So I think as we look ahead, we’ve got some more of that data, that whole data management structure to go there. Obviously, I still continue to focus on our organization learning and engaging and being directly active in what we do in our facilities.

And I think also Emerson’s got, I’m gonna call it a duty to take what we know and take it out into our communities. We know how to measure things. We know a lot of engineering and technical things. Those are gifts that we can give to our communities, and having our employees do that outreach and that educational piece as well, I think, is really important.

Jim: So the culture you’re instilling around just being more sustainable in all we do. How are you as you speak to other chief sustainability officers or the leaders in our company’s sustainability efforts, coaching them on how to change their culture?

Mike: First of all, I’d love to learn from others and I’ll steal any good idea I can find and obviously want to share what we’ve learned.

I think the great part about environmental sustainability space is it’s not proprietary. We all want to make the difference. We all have to work collectively, frankly, to get the world to net zero. So I think it’s a great collaborative space to begin with. You know, guidance I give is to get started, to get rolling, work through your employees.

I think that’s, again, we have 70,000 here at Emerson. I work through the 70,000 folks here. We have 15,000 supplier organizations. We’ve spent a lot of time with many of those to kind of paint the picture of how to go about this. Exchange best practices. I learned from them, they learned from us.

So I think those are really important things. And I think what’s interesting is every year or two you think you’ve learned something. We’ve done an energy treasure hunt. We’ve found some great ideas. We’ve implemented them. The next time we go back into an energy treasure hunt, we’ve gotten so much smarter and we see more.

So I think it’s just stay focused and keep making progress. There’s always gonna be more opportunities that are out there to focus on as we look ahead.

Jim: You made such an important point there that this isn’t like technology development and the competition and worried about keeping your intellectual property private.

We’re all on the same mission here, and being able to share freely, whether they’re your competitors, whether it’s suppliers, whether everyone else and I liked what you said there, I have kind of variation on that. Sometimes the best ideas are the ones that you borrow from someone else and then implement, maybe taking a new direction.

I guess as we wind things down here, any closing thoughts that you have for our listeners and maybe from the standpoint of what they might do to carry that torch into their organization if they’re at the front end of this and seeking to instill change in their organization.

Mike: Yeah, I would say, first of all, every company’s capable of getting an A and A-minus in the CDP ratings, right? There’s a great guide there to follow, to build up your processes over time. So certainly take a look at that, that it’s great information. I’d say secondly, on the cultural front again, driving employee engagement, giving them permissions, giving your employees permission to activate to do things, and what always boggles my mind and love is the creativity of our employees and the people that we engage with.

People come up with things that I had never thought of, I didn’t have a point of view on. We celebrate those. We actually have environmental sustainability awards in the company, which we will be announcing during Earth Month in April this year. There’s just the number of ideas and how high quality they were. It’s just amazing. So get going, make progress, embrace it. I think the disclosure aspect of it is a good accountability mechanism that we continue to make progress. Don’t go for perfection; just keep making progress. I think that’s a big point.

Jim: Well, that’s really good guidance. Just keep driving it forward. Just be persistent and consistent about the way you go about it. Well, Mike, I want to thank you so much for joining us here today and sharing your thoughts and continue to move our company forward and get all of us and we’ll get that A. We will strive and we will achieve that A. So thanks for joining us.

Mike: Thanks Jim.

– End of Transcript –

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