The future of the environment rests on today's business leaders, and we need to be doing much more - starting now

climate changeMike Hutchings/Reuters

  • Stephen Badger is the chairman of Mars, the 106-year-old company behind many iconic and trusted brands in confectionery, food, pet nutrition, and veterinary services.
  • In this opinion piece, he writes that the fundamental responsibility to help fix accelerating issues like climate change rests upon the business and political leaders of today - and that those leaders need to be doing more.
  • Mars, which has a carbon footprint roughly equal to that of a small country, has committed $1 billion investment to tackle issues like climate change and poverty as part of its "Sustainable in a Generation Plan."
  • Ahead of Climate Week NYC (beginning September 24), Badger is urgently calling upon other global business leaders to do their part.
  • As a parent, he believes companies "have a moral obligation to change the trajectory we are on for the generation right behind us."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

When I talk with my son, it's clear that his optimism about the future is challenged, to say the least. In fact, when it comes to the state of the planet and the threats posed by climate change, I'd describe it as a little closer to despair.

He and his peers have so many questions: What can I do given the magnitude of the issues? How are we going to live on a planet with increasingly catastrophic cycles of drought and rain? Why aren't world leaders doing more to solve this problem?

In the not-too-distant future, members of my son's generation will run the world. They will be driving consumer trends, voting on the issues important to them, and holding positions of power.

In the meantime, the fundamental responsibility to lean into real, accelerating issues like climate change rests upon the business and political leaders of today. And we need to do more, and do it faster.

At Mars, we have a carbon footprint across our entire value chain that is roughly the same as that of a small country. With this scale comes responsibility.

As I write this, I'm preparing to travel to New York for the U.N. General Assembly (UNGA) and Climate Week events, where I'll join leaders in business, government, and non-governmental organizations to address action on key issues facing society and the planet.

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How we're tackling the crisis at Mars

The urgency going into this event is real. In recent months, the science has revealed that the planet is already nearly 1°C warmer and scientists warn that once the temperature increases by 1.5°C future generations will face increasingly disruptive impacts on our societies, our economies, and the natural world.

At Mars, we are pledging to respond to this updated assessment with new commitments, and are working to build increased resilience into our agricultural supply chains.

Stephen BadgerStephen Badger.Courtesy of Stephen Badger

We believe that the world we want tomorrow starts with how we do business today. That ideal drives us as a family business that thinks in terms of generations. It's also at the heart of our Sustainable in a Generation Plan and the $1 billion investment we've made behind that plan to start tackling issues like climate change, poverty, and water stress within our supply chain.

Worldwide we are now sourcing 53% of the electricity we use in our operations (factories/offices) from renewables. We've also merged our sustainability and procurement activities to move beyond traditional commodity buying where price is the primary driver.

And, we are simplifying our supply chains to increase transparency, and our ability to audit and take action to lower GHG emissions, reduce our impact on land and water, and create opportunities for people, particularly smallholder farmers.

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Our message to global business leaders: We must do more

We are sincere in our aspirations and optimistic about our ability to do our part. But, we're just one company. The net impact of global business is tremendous, and the opportunity for global business to change the course we are on is enormous.

So, as we head into UNGA/Climate Week, our call to action is for all businesses, government leaders, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to step up the actions they are taking to tackle climate change and to increase the pace of progress on the critical issues which threaten our collective potential.

No one should have the right to compromise the future of our children by maintaining a comfortable status quo. Nor are incremental improvements enough; we must be thinking in terms of transformative change.

As the leaders of today, we have a moral obligation to change the trajectory we are on for the generation right behind us. This year's UNGA/Climate Week should be a tipping point that will yield accelerated and impactful action and change the trajectory we are on.

Like all parents, I want my son to have a life full of opportunities. Coming out of UNGA/Climate week, I want him and his contemporaries to see that we are taking meaningful action and that our efforts will bring us closer to a future with a rich and diverse planet, on which all people can thrive.

Stephen Badger is chairman of the board for Mars, a +$35B private, family business committed to purpose-led value creation.

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