Alibaba puts its innovative technology to work in the fight against CO2 emissions


Climate change is a hot topic around the world, and it is a first-class challenge that unites the world’s business leaders. In the face of adversity, it is the duty of international companies to act, shoulder their responsibilities and lead by example.

The global economy must evolve from a linear “take, produce, throw” model to adopting a circular economy with low carbon emissions, according to the “waste, reuse, regenerate, recycle” model. Alibaba is committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2030.

Today’s consumption of natural resources is almost twice the rate at which the Earth regenerates them. Huge amounts of human greenhouse gases (GHGs) have become the main cause of climate change, resulting in more frequent and intense natural disasters, degradation of the ecological field and pollution of the environment, air, soil and water.

It’s time to work

The multiple disasters and extreme weather events that occurred last year are warning signs of the gravity of the situation. This is a reminder: we need, on the one hand, to act more quickly, and on the other hand, to achieve economic development where non-renewable resources are no longer subject to strong global dependence.

To achieve this, the global economy must evolve from a linear “take, produce, throw” model to adopting a circular economy with low carbon emissions, according to the “waste, reuse, regenerate and recycle” model. As one of the world’s largest retail and e-commerce companies, the Alibaba Group plays an important role in supporting this transformation.

Reducing emissions to achieve sustainable development

Unchanged for 20 years, our mission is to make life easier for entrepreneurs everywhere. Today, this mission takes on a new meaning and we are proudly shouldering our responsibilities to overcome our society’s greatest challenges.

Our entire ecosystem cares: we not only want to improve consumers’ quality of life with easy access to goods and services, but also to help businesses – from young startups to large multinationals – develop in a sustainable way by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Based on this principle, the Alibaba Group decided to join the “Science-Based Targets” initiative to help limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. We have set new short and medium term goals for carbon neutrality.

Improving our innovative technology to meet daunting challenges

Alibaba has pledged to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030 in its owned businesses, that is, those given in objectives 1 and 2 *. So we will have to make changes to our company’s buildings and vehicles, and review the way we get electricity and heating.

We will also work with our upstream and downstream partners in our value chain to reduce intensity by 50%.1 emissions by 2030, was considered in Objective 3*. Building on our heritage of innovation, we will increase the use of clean energy and improve energy efficiency. Additional initiatives, we will develop environmental management plans for suppliers, thanks to these incentive mechanisms to popularize their use. Of course, this will not be easy. Objective 3 is arguably the most difficult to measure and requires reliable data collection. But we intend to improve our technical expertise, mobilize all our teams and intensify our efforts to overcome these challenges.

Ultimately – and this is exclusive to Alibaba – we identified an opportunity to expand the boundaries of our Goals 1, 2 and 3. In this way, we will be able to better promote emission reduction behaviours, through technological innovations and new business models.

To this end, we are pioneering the concept of “Goal 3+”, which includes emissions from a wide range of actors in our ecosystem. This is the case of Tmall, Alibaba’s Chinese B2C marketplace, where Target 3+ includes overall emissions from suppliers, merchants, and customers. By “general emissions” we mean all of its emissions: those resulting from activities related to Alibaba’s products and services and those resulting from other activities.

We are convinced that this will have an important role in reaching the 1.5°C target of the Paris Agreements. We also launched a 1.5 gigatonne 1.5°C project, where we will leverage our various platforms to achieve a 1.5 billion tons reduction in carbon emissions across Target 3+ entirely by 2035.

A collaborative three-step approach to achieving established goals

First, we hope to catalyze a new wave of technology innovation and business models within Alibaba to inspire our teams and provide innovative solutions to address society’s pressing needs regarding climate.

We also want to bring together partners across our digital ecosystem, from brands to merchants and from producers to consumers, to make this transition together. This will promote environmentally friendly products to consumers and further promote green and responsible behaviors for merchants and consumers. Such behavioral shifts will influence decision making in all aspects of the brand’s value chain, including the search for greener packaging and logistics solutions.

Finally, we hope to work with partners, research organizations, academic institutions, and certification agencies to develop better digital systems for tracking, recording, verifying and assessing carbon emissions. These efforts will lay a solid scientific and technological foundation for the transition.

We are convinced that Target 3+ is a natural extension of the previous targets. This challenge requires us to rally our efforts around innovative solutions, which will make it possible to intensify the global reduction in carbon emissions.

Technology will play a vital role in achieving our goals and driving long-term behavioral change for the benefit of our planet.

* Objective 1 (Scope 1): Direct emissions from owned or controlled activities.

* Objective 2 (Scope 2): Indirect emissions from the production of consumed energy.

* Target 3 (Scope 3): All indirect emissions (not included in Target 2) that occur in the company’s value chain, i.e. upstream and downstream emissions.

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