As Cisco joins the net-zero party, how do we move from pledge to practice?

September 10, 2021, 9:24 AM UTC

Good morning.

Barely a day goes by without another big company ratcheting up its commitments to fighting climate change. Today’s example is Cisco. It now plans to reach net zero for all “Scope 1” and “Scope 2” emissions—those directly within its control—by 2025. And it will hit net zero across its entire value chain by 2040.

Are all these corporate commitments real? We still suffer from a mind-numbing proliferation of metrics, a lack of clear standards, and a tendency by some to make promises on behalf of future executives that they won’t be around to meet. Business is certainly stepping up its rhetoric. But that rhetoric needs to translate to action.

So how do we move from pledge to practice? That’s the theme we plan to explore at Fortune’s Global Sustainability Forum, which is happening virtually on September 28. We will be drilling down with CEOs like Rich Lesser of BCG, which is knowledge partner for the event; Mike Roman of 3M; Michele Buck of Hershey’s; Jim Fitterling of Dow; and Jesper Brodin of IKEA. As I’ve written here before, 2021 is turning out to be an inflection point for business efforts to address climate change. This gathering will help ensure the progress is real. If you are interested in being part of the conversation, register here

Separately, vaccine mandates are picking up steam among companies in the U.S., but few employers say they will fire violators. The details are here.

And my apologies to Jeffrey Hollender for misspelling his name and misnaming the company he founded, Seventh Generation. He deserves better. My brain was muddled.

More news below.

Alan Murray


Biden and Xi

U.S. President Joe Biden gave his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping a call yesterday to discuss "areas where our interests converge, and areas where our interests, values, and perspectives diverge." Washington wants to work together where possible, but Beijing seemingly wants to remain uncooperative as long as the U.S. keeps criticizing China's internal affairs. Fortune

European energy

Europe's energy crunch (demand for natural gas outstrips supply) is worsening, with Ireland now warning of a power shortfall that could cause blackouts. The warning sent electricity prices soaring in the U.K., a big customer for Irish wind power. Bloomberg

Back home

Microsoft has indefinitely suspended its back-to-the-office plans, saying the pandemic is too unpredictable to set a date for the return. Like Apple, Microsoft says it will give its employees a one-month heads-up when the situation becomes clearer. Fortune

Facebook specs

Facebook and Ray-Ban have finally unveiled their smart glasses: Ray-Ban Stories. They don't look especially geeky despite the embedded cameras; users can answer calls and listen to music on them; they don't have augmented-reality functionality in this iteration; they're not waterproof; and they cost $299. Will they be a hit where pretty much everything else in the space has failed to make a big impression? Fortune


Vaccine failure

Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown calls for rich countries to distribute their spare vaccine doses equitably: "Poor countries, which have injected just 2% of their adults, are being denied vaccines, while rich countries that have already fully immunized more than 60% of their citizens continue to monopolize access to doses. Thousands will die this month and for the foreseeable future, not because there are too few vaccines being produced but because they are being hoarded in the places that need them least." (P.S.: Sarah Gilbert, the lead scientist behind AstraZeneca's vaccine, does not believe mass booster campaigns are necessary, and also wants spare jabs to go to the countries that need them.) Guardian

Uninvestable China?

Does China's regulatory crackdown-fest (on which the Washington Post has a great piece here) mean it is no longer safe to invest in the country? Gregor Stuart Hunter dives into this question for Fortune: "Even if the worst of the crackdown is past, some professional fund managers are trying to identify industries and companies that are less likely to be subject to new regulation…But even if investors can find safe havens in China, they may not replicate the previous returns of Big Tech." Fortune

House prices

People are "rightfully worried that another housing bubble is brewing," writes Zonda chief economist Ali Wolf in this Fortune piece, but: "As we move forward, we can take comfort that many of the mortgage guardrails in place are working, with creditworthiness strong and speculative lending largely absent from the market." Fortune

9/11 memories

Wall Street Journal veteran Dean Rotbart writes for Fortune about how the paper, whose primary newsroom was destroyed on 9/11, pulled together to create a Pulitzer-winning edition for the following morning: "When the need arose, Journal staffers didn’t have to be told what to do. On their own, they reasoned how they could be most helpful, and they set about it. In many instances, that meant stepping outside of their assigned roles and filling in for others who were unavailable." Fortune

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.

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