UN Climate Change News, 1 April 2019 - As a Nordic country, Sweden is not a nation usually associated with the worst impacts of climate change. But that perception changed dramatically following the events of the summer of 2018, when dangerous wildfires raged above the Arctic Circle and the worst drought in decades heavily impacted Swedish farmers.
In the aftermath of these devastating events, there has been a dramatic shift in the hearts and minds of Swedes: Many want to see action on climate change and they want to see it now.
Less than a year on from the spate of climate impacts, Icebug—the Swedish outdoor footwear manufacturer—has stepped up to the challenge. In the face of worsening extreme weather events, the company felt that the time had come to hold themselves accountable for their climate footprint.
Acting on this conviction, Icebug made the bold announcement that its operations would be climate positive by 2020 and—less than 6 months later—it has already made good on this promise as a participant in the UN Climate Change Secretariat’s Climate Neutral Now initiative.
Icebug’s climate commitment means that in 2019 they will strive to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that result from their manufacturing activities further than they already are, and they will also keep compensating in a greater amount than they emit.
Speaking about the company’s decision-making process, David Ekelund, co-founder and CEO, explained:
“When we made the decision, we had no idea what it would mean. It was the biggest and most daring decision that we had taken.”
According to Ekelund, although Icebug has emerged as a leader on climate action in the outdoor sector, the original agenda when creating the brand was not environmentalism. The reality of climate change is what has forced the company into that space.
Icebug was inspired to become “climate positive”, rather than just “climate neutral”, by a similar commitment made by Swedish burger chain MAX. Earlier this year, Motion Blur Films also announced that it had produced the world’s first climate positive feature movie, Amundsen.
According to Icebug, the company's ambition is to see this kind of commitment become mainstream within the outdoor sector so that being climate positive is no longer merely perceived as a competitive advantage—they want to turn this idea on its head and envisage a world where, once a critical mass of brands has moved to become climate positive, it will become a marketing liability not to do so.
Icebug is also committed to debunking the myth that a lack of certainty is a valid excuse for inaction. In order to become climate positive, Icebug first needed to estimate the greenhouse gas emissions from its entire value chain. This was no mean feat for the performance footwear manufacturer: one pair of shoes or boots can have 30-40 different components. However, by finding the right experts to assist them with a life cycle assessment of one of their most popular products, Icebug was able to extrapolate and estimate the greenhouse gas emissions across their operations.
Icebug says that although this estimation methodology is not perfect, the company has accounted for the uncertainty by being conservative in its assumptions and purchasing 25% more carbon credits than would be required to offset their actual estimated greenhouse gas emissions. Going forward, Icebug will continue to refine the methodology for estimating its greenhouse gas emissions and set aggressive targets for emission reductions in-house.
In the meantime, the company invites more companies to step-up and take responsibility for their climate footprint so that the goals of the Paris Climate Change Agreement can be reached and the world is spared the worst impacts of climate change. Because it makes good business and common sense to walk down the path of sustainable development and climate action!