U.S. companies take on climate crisis challenges

The State Department has recognized two U.S.-based companies for their work on the climate crisis with the Award for Corporate Excellence (ACE).

“The climate crisis is not an issue that we can solve through government or civil society action alone,” noted Secretary of State Antony Blinken. “We need companies to make the investments that will get us to net zero emissions so we can limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and prevent a climate catastrophe.”

The ACE has recognized U.S. companies for their responsible business conduct abroad since 1999. In 2021, it honored companies in the categories of economic inclusionhealth security and climate innovation.

Climate innovators Australis Aquaculture and Patagonia received their awards for implementing solutions to promote sustainable adaptation and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Sustainable food for a healthier planet

Australis Aquaculture, a Massachusetts-based company, pioneered climate-smart ocean farming in the marine tropics of central Vietnam.

A worker holds a barramundi — a type of white fish high in omega-3 fatty acids — at Australis’ processing plant. (© Australis)

Its innovative work has made barramundi — a white fish high in nutrients — an affordable and environmentally friendly food source.

Barramundi is an especially sustainable species to farm because it can turn plant-based feed into omega-3 fatty acids, a nutrient needed for healthy human brain function. Salmon also is touted as a good omega-3 source. But salmon must eat other fish in order to produce the nutrient.

Barramundi thus packs the same nutritional punch in a vegetarian diet. And by recycling the water it uses to raise barramundi, Australis further lowers the environmental impact of farming the fish.

Australis’ innovative approach represents a new model for large-scale ocean aquaculture that creates economic benefits for workers and coastal communities, enhances global food security, protects wild fisheries, and builds climate resilience.

Australis is working to cultivate a type of seaweed that can reduce cattle methane emissions when incorporated into feed. (© Australis)

Australis’ Greener Grazing initiative also tackles the climate crisis. It aims to eliminate methane emissions from livestock by introducing Asparagopsis seaweed into their diets.

“If successful, this initiative could dramatically reduce the climate impact of the world’s two billion cattle — the climate equivalent of taking every car on the planet off the road,” says the company.

Clothing meets environmental action

Patagonia — a sustainable outdoor clothing company based in California — also places environmental solutions at the center of its business model. It has pledged to be carbon neutral across its entire business (including supply chains) by 2025.

Repairing clothes is one of the ways Patagonia ensures it keeps a low environmental impact through its line. (© Patagonia)

And it’s achieving that goal, using 100% renewable electricity in the United States and 80% globally since 2019.  As of fall 2020, 68% of its seasonal line was made with recycled materials.

Patagonia plans to become completely carbon neutral, eliminating, capturing or otherwise mitigating all its carbon emissions, whether from its own factories or the farms that grow the natural fibers it uses.

The company will use only electricity sourced from renewable supplies for all retail stores, distribution centers and global offices.

Patagonia also will reduce its energy use throughout its supply chain, work with suppliers to convert to renewable energy and invest in renewable energy projects to cover the remainder of its carbon footprint.

And it will expand regenerative organic agriculture as the source of fiber for their apparel to restore topsoil and capture carbon out of the atmosphere.