Climate Advocacy & Engagement

Strong climate change policy is good for business

Letitia Webster, Vice President, Global Corporate Sustainability, 2015 UNFCC Conference of the Parties, Paris

Climate change is the most pressing issue of our generation. Therefore, a notable portion of our sustainability efforts is focused on reducing our carbon footprint and advocating for strong climate action at the state, national and international levels in support of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Our role as a business leader means we have the responsibility to do more than just reduce our own footprint. The private sector can play an instrumental role in the transition to a sustainable environment and economy by illustrating the clear business case for climate policies. That begins with advocacy and engagement. At VF, we regularly communicate with stakeholders to express our views on the benefits of taking an aggressive stand on climate, including reduced energy costs, growth of new businesses and increased sustainable economic development.

Economic growth doesn't have to come at the expense of increasing our carbon footprint. In fact, economic prosperity and the transition to a low carbon economy are complementary to one another. Our position is that strong climate change policy is good for business.

“VF Corporation has for the past several years been at the forefront of climate and energy policy… Reflecting the scale and pace of its sustainable commitments, VF sets the tone and the example of responsible climate advocacy for others to follow.” – Anne Kelly, Senior Director, Policy, Ceres

Impacts & Efforts

We have actively promoted smart climate change policy since 2010 as a member of Ceres’ Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy (BICEP). In 2015, we joined NGOs and industry partners, including We Mean Business and  BICEP, to raise our voice in support of the global Paris Climate Agreement. As part of this work we met with policymakers in Washington, D.C., issued open letters of support in the media, took the American Business Act on Climate Pledge alongside more than 150 companies, published an op-ed by The North Face® brand leadership calling for action in Outside Online and joined other business leaders in Paris at COP21.

In 2017, we again partnered with others to call on the U.S. government to remain a committed member of the global Paris Climate Agreement. Our Chairman and CEO, Steve Rendle, communicated our position directly to President Trump and his Administration. Regardless of the federal government’s decision to withdraw from the Paris accord, we remain committed to limiting our emissions in line with scientific recommendations. That’s why, in 2017, we began the process of setting science-based climate targets. We are doing everything we can as a leader in the apparel and footwear industry to limit our contribution to climate change – and through our actions we seek to inspire others to do the same.

Climate change and its effects are real. It is our responsibility to help protect the natural environments we all share and are passionate about exploring, and acting as a responsible corporate citizen is foundational to who we are – and how we behave at VF. We will act in a way that inspires others to follow.“– Steve Rendle, CEO, VF Corporation

Our CEO and many of our brand presidents have signed onto the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) and Protect Our Winters (POW) CEO Climate Change Pledge, in which we commit to reduce our own impacts and ask political leaders to enact climate change policies. Several of our brands have been vocal advocates for climate action and policy for many years through various forms of community and consumer engagement. The North Face® brand has been the lead sponsor of Protect Our Winters' Hot Planet/Cool Athletes climate education program since 2011. The program brings professional athletes to middle and high schools across the U.S. for fun and interactive climate change lessons. 

Advocating for renewable energy is another way we work to advance progress on climate change. As a signatory of RE100, we are expanding the use of renewable energy across our own value chain with a goal to source 100 percent of electricity from renewable sources in our owned and operated facilities by 2025. To amplify this, in 2016, we signed the Corporate Renewable Energy Buyers’ Principles to spur wider adoption of renewable energy beyond our owned and operated facilities and into our extended supply chain through conscious procurement decisions.

Using product design and brand engagement to address climate change

Our brands are always experimenting with how to use their levers of change – product design and consumer engagement – to support our climate actions. These brand efforts can take many forms, including creating products that address climate change by the way they are produced (using recycled content, incorporating carbon sequestration technologies, lower environmental metrics) or encouraging consumers to preserve our national parks, recycle or support fundraising for environmental nonprofits.

We are also exploring what role our agricultural supply chain can play in converting farmlands and forests into carbon sinks to enable the sequestration or absorption of atmospheric carbon dioxide. The North Face®Wrangler® and Timberland® brand teams are spearheading this effort with farmers while The North Face®, Timberland® and Vans® brands are increasing use of recycled PET for their products. Efforts are also underway at Timberland® to influence the ranching community to move to sustainable grazing practices and research more innovative leather alternatives. 

Key Performance Data

2015

Joined RE100 and committed to source 100 percent of our electricity from renewable sources in our owned and operated facilities by 2025

2016

Signed the Corporate Renewable Energy Buyers’ Principles

2017

Started the process of setting science-based CO2e goals