While the environmental case for reducing emissions is clear, what is not so well known is that companies are already finding new business models with mass sales and exciting revenue creation as we enter a transition towards a one hundred percent clean energy future.  One of these approaches, called “climate positive”, provides businesses with interesting opportunities to tap into the EUR 200-billion per year market in renewable and efficiency solutions - a market that must at least triple annually if we are to deal properly with climate change, according to latest reports.[1]

The world’s largest companies are starting to discover the large opportunities of exploring new markets with these innovative products - to their own benefit, to the benefit of their clients and to the benefit of the climate. Beyond the usual products that directly reduce energy use - such as energy efficient lighting or energy efficient TVs - a large range of products is being developed which enable even more emission reductions: they help reduce user’s carbon footprints. Think of anti-fouling coatings, efficient ball bearings, concentrated solar power or videoconferencing. Larger than the entire new market for electric appliances, business opportunities in renewable solutions are indeed very attractive, as seen in the increasing number of mergers and acquisitions and investments in smaller companies (in particular by technology companies e.g. Siemens, General Electric and ABB).

A world of business to gain

Companies can create additional revenue through marketing and policy advocacy to promote high-performance products and services as alternatives to standard product offerings. This method largely resembles current approaches concerning conventional energy-saving appliances. There is growing momentum to do this as companies and customers are increasingly facing resource scarcity as well as air pollution and looking for alternatives to reduce their carbon footprint in the whole value chain.

For companies, starting with this business would in most cases be justified by the perspective on new product sales. Obviously, a company will start with the most significant opportunities, and broaden its portfolio of climate positive products when the first movers are successful. This way of looking at new business will gradually include more and more interesting products that are now too often left outside the sustainability dialogue. By establishing this framework, companies will help unlock the multiple benefits of a low carbon life style.

Additional Business Opportunities

Ecofys, WWF and Utrecht University recently collaborated on a research project that proved that there are many opportunities for companies (as well as for NGOs and other stakeholders) in climate positive products. Adopting positive climate strategies will reduce risk and enhance brand equity. In the future, tenders and contracts may include just this kind of emissions reduction criteria as prerequisites. Furthermore, broader new strategies will increase opportunities to find and improve solutions together with an ever-expanding network of capacity and knowledge.

Companies becoming global citizens through magnification

To reduce their carbon footprint—and to play their role in reaching a low carbon society— companies need not only reduce their own emissions but also help supply chain partners and customers to reduce their carbon footprint. This ‘magnification’ approach is the one supported by the WWF. The world’s largest environmental organization’s Climate Savers programme assists companies like Yingli, Volvo, Coco-Cola, Nike, Sprint, SKF, Alpro, IBM, Sony and KPN to make, reach and surpass emissions reduction commitments. The programme has been a resounding success – both environmentally and financially: A 2012 impact assessment of the programme showed that over thirty major corporate members of WWF's Climate Savers programme succeeded in avoiding over 100 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions over the period 1999 to 2011. And partner companies are seeing increasing revenue streams, R&D opportunities and brand reputation management through their involvement in the programme.

By taking action now, companies can get ahead of the competition and reap the rewards of outstanding low carbon products in a fast growing market. In this way, they can show initiative and pave the way to become global environmental leaders. By adopting climate positive approaches, companies can find new ways of addressing climate change through transforming markets, in parallel with continued ambitious action to reduce their own carbon footprint. This creates awareness with end-users, strengthens the company’s value proposition, increases its competitive advantage and drives future innovation in this field.

For more information, please visit the WWF Climate Savers webpage: http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/how_we_work/businesses/climate/climate_savers/

Also visit www.ecofys.com

Examples of Climate Positive Products and Services




Drinks,   Vegetable yoghurt variations, soya burgers

Akzo   Nobel

Ship   coatings


Intelligent,   optimised greenhouse lighting with energy saved, yield increased, waste   reduced, and quality improved. 


Hertz   on demand providing easy access car sharing of fuel efficient vehicles, incl   electric vehicles


Halo Videoconferencing


Energy   optimization of buildings

Royal   KPN

Wired   and wireless telephony, Teleconferencing


Industry   Services, (Rolling) E2 bearings

Siemens   AG

Wind   power, Automation, Operator Control and monitoring systems


Dye-sensitized   solar cells, bio batteries   

Tetra   Pak

Tetra   Recart packaging for minimised transport emissions


Bus   Rapid Transit systems

Wuhan Yunhe Dingyu   Refrigeration Science & Technology Co., Ltd.

Absorption Refrigeration   System replaces   electricity as the power source for cooling with heat from solar, diesel   engine exhaust or industrial waste steam

Yingli   Solar

Solar   energy


Additional author bios:

Stefan Henningsson is Senior Adviser Climate Innovation at WWF International. He works on strengthening support for climate innovation from the policy, business and investor arena. Stefan initiated and looks over the expansion of WWF Climate Solvers for groundbreaking entrepreneurs and policy needed for their growth, he managed and co-authored WWF/Cleantech Group’s Global Cleantech Innovation Index 2012 and was in the steering group of UN Global Compact/WWF Low Carbon Leaders project on transformative solutions with climate positive impacts from big business.

Alexander Quarles van Ufford holds an MSc. in Business Economics and has worked for WWF's climate programme since 1998. His key focus is corporate climate leadership. Currently Senior Advisor Business Engagement at WWF Netherlands, he was managing WWF International's global Climate Savers programme for the last five years. Prior to joining WWF Alexander was manager of GREENTIE, the IEA programme promoting transfer of greenhouse gas mitigating technologies.   

Wouter Meindertsma is a carbon footprint and lifecycle analysis expert at Ecofys. Wouter produces carbon footprints and life cycle assessments for corporate clients, NGO’s and governments. He is also involved in benchmarking and verification for the WWF Climate Savers programme. He has experience with designing and reviewing methods and standards for carbon footprinting and LCAs and works on environmental profit and loss accounting, material scarcity and product enabled avoided emissions.  

[1] World Economic Forum’s The Green Investment Report 2013 - The ways and means to unlock private finance for green growth. This report shows that there are US$ 5000 billion investments in the pipeline before 2020 that need to be greened. In addition, there are incremental investment needs of at least US$ 700 billion per year to meet the climate-change challenge. This investment is needed for clean energy infrastructure, low-carbon transport, energy efficiency and forestry to limit the global average temperature increase to 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

[Image credit: Wikipedia (gmaxwell)]

About The Author

Vincent Hoen

Vincent Hoen is consultant at international consultancy Ecofys, a leading consultancy in renewable energy, energy & carbon efficiency, energy systems & markets and energy & climate policy. Vincent is the lead author of the 2012 impact assessment of WWF’s Climate Savers Programme. This analysis showed that over thirty major corporate members of WWF's Climate Savers programme succeeded in avoiding over 100 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from being emitted over the period of 1999 up till 2011. For more information on Ecofys, please visit: www.ecofys.com