Climate Leads are the internal champions driving decarbonization within companies. They do the work behind the scenes to mobilize businesses to solve climate change.
They’re rethinking their businesses for a zero-carbon world, and working across far-flung teams to turn pledges into reality. They’re optimistic and grounded, tenacious and resourceful. They’re engineers, advocates, educators, and operators.
Their work really matters—many manage more carbon than entire cities. At Watershed, we’re lucky to support them every day.
Head of Sustainability, Airbnb
I’ve learned: The opportunity on climate is so vast that the key part is identifying how to keep moving the ball forward—breaking big ideas down into concrete next steps so we can take immediate actions that move us toward our goals.
My role: Leveraging existing structures, sustainability has long been part of Airbnb’s history, and remains an important focus for Hosts and guests around the world. My role was created to take our opportunity to the next level, for our company and in partnership with our global community.
I want others to know: Even small individual changes add up when applied to millions of people. When you enter the climate space, it’s easy to look around and say “it’s too big,” “it’s too late,” or “what can I really add.” It’s about our collective power, and that each of us doing our part can make a real difference.
It’s not about adding ‘and what about sustainability’ as an afterthought; it’s about partnering to embed sustainability as a decision-making criteria.
Chief Supply Chain Officer, Everlane
A typical week: We’re in the midst of rethinking the look and story of our products, and of finalizing our first impact report. But we also have weekly carbon meetings based on the insights we get from Watershed, and are constantly thinking about how to streamline our global supply chain.
My career path: I don’t have a background in apparel or climate. I’d planned to be an orthopedic surgeon! When I started here, the company was approximately 25-30 people and very few brands in the industry were talking about sustainability—and now my team alone is larger than that. I don’t think it matters what your education or background is. Being a good sustainability champion is about being inquisitive: asking good questions and actively listening.
I’m optimistic because: It takes work to stay positive right now. Supply chains are in a tough place. But this new attention has upsides: our grandparents are talking about supply chains and container ships now, and there’s a much greater understanding of supply chain impact. And this impact can be positive, where every positive change ripples across the world.
Sustainability isn’t just a cost now. The industry is able to use it as a revenue and a growth vehicle.
Our approach: We’re working to remove the barriers to travel—not just the time it takes, but also the environmental impacts. Climate strongly informs our evaluation of customers and suppliers, and having set an internal cost of carbon helps us make data-driven, environmentally-conscious decisions.
I’m proud of: Achieving carbon neutrality beginning in 2021 and publishing our first annual sustainability report in the next few weeks.
I’m optimistic because: Even though aviation is a challenging sector to decarbonize, the rapid acceleration of sustainable aviation fuels over the past few years clearly shows that the future of aviation really will be sustainable. This isn’t yesteryear’s bio fuel, it’s a forward looking technology—pulling CO2 directly from the air to create net zero carbon fuel.
Boom is working not just to be a leader in decarbonizing aviation, but to also drive systematic change across the entire industry.
Senior Product Analyst, Aledade
My day job: Democratizing data access for others at my company. But I volunteered in 2020 to have a twin focus on climate. So one moment I’m handling SQL queries and the next I’m asking how we can help primary care physicians switch to clean energy.
My climate background: I didn’t take any environmental classes in college. I just didn’t see how I had an opportunity to make a difference. But it turns out the corporate world is full of opportunities. And the more I invested into understanding them, the more my ambition for Aledade’s climate program grew, and the more trust I was given.
I’m proud of: Over just the last year, we gained a granular understanding of our emissions, achieved carbon neutrality, and began switching over to clean energy. And we’re now already increasing our carbon removal investments by 6-7x. This is progress that used to take companies several years.
I want others to know: You can do this work too! We started our climate program with zero expertise and just an inkling of an idea. There’s a whole community of people out there willing to collaborate, and teams like Watershed to help you navigate the unknowns.
Most companies are now realizing that climate work is aligned with their mission and long-term goals.
Workplace Sustainability Manager, Pinterest
My day job: I gather data about our environmental impact, translate it into meaningful insights for my cross-functional partners, and help them develop plans to reduce our footprint.
My climate background: I’d been doing aspects of this work for a long time before I got the formal title. I’ve always been passionate about the role the private sector can and should play in addressing the climate crisis, and I’m motivated by the scale of impact we can have as a company.
My approach: I tailor my communication to make it clear how day-to-day decisions make an impact, what’s at stake, and how everyone can play a role. My goal is to connect with as many people here as possible so that I can understand their priorities and we can figure out how to incorporate a sustainability mindset into their work.
Climate work is an opportunity to think 5, 10, 15 years into the future about how the decisions we make today will build a better tomorrow.
Global Sustainability Manager, Spotify
Our approach: In addition to working towards net zero, we’re focused on using the reach of our platform to both raise awareness of the climate crisis and drive positive change. Whether that’s through the podcasts we recorded at COP26 last November, all the content in our Climate Action Hub, or this year’s Earth Day campaign amplifying the voices of young climate advocates across the world.
I believe: Sustainability shouldn’t be handled on the side. To get people factoring climate into everyday decision-making, you need clear direction and a plan on how you’re going to educate teams on the challenges and make the relevant data available for all to use. Integration is the only way to drive impact for real.
I’m proud that: We have great climate engagement across the company. Our R&D team set up a Climate Champions network to drive goal-setting and implementation. We also had climate as our theme for our annual Hack Week this year to harness the creativity of all Spotifiers. We love experimentation and seeing what works.
Many of the solutions needed to solve the climate crisis already exist. We just need to find ways to implement them at scale.