Climate action is built with strategy, transparency, and engagement

27 Oct 2021
A letter from the PMI’s Chief Sustainability Officer Jennifer Motles.
Jennifer Motles, Chief Sustainability Officer, PMI

Our world is under threat and facing one of the biggest environmental challenges in our history. We are the first generation to be conscious and aware of the destruction we are waging on our planet and its ecosystems, and, at the same time, the last one that can do anything about it.

As a millennial, I often think about the fact that I will only be a middle-aged person in 2050, and the overwhelming complexity and sheer magnitude of climate change becomes paralyzing. What can one individual do to create change that can alter the seeming inevitability of the path humanity is on? As a society, we have protested, raised awareness, talked openly about its consequences, and many have pledged and committed to align with lofty goals that promise a change that would hopefully see our planet warm up at a slower pace. Sadly, making pledges has emerged as a popular and flexible way to attempt to govern the environment. Companies have promised to do what makes sense within their capacities, putting forward commitments or aspirations toward a shared goal and hoping that the sum of these pledges will safeguard the environment. 

What has become apparent is the opaqueness of how to achieve these desired goals. With enough transparency, however, pledging can enable implementation, accountability, and eventually significant change. This is the fundamental reason underlying our Low-Carbon Transition Plan (LCTP). We see it as timely due to the dramatic increase in net-zero and low-carbon corporate targets and commitments.


PMI's timeline to achieve carbon neutrality


We recognize that climate change is not only about impact on the environment but also on people’s livelihoods. Building on our 10-year experience of developing and implementing programs, especially in our agriculture supply chain, we have witnessed how climate change has exacerbated human rights issues, including social inequalities, disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable. The climate crisis concretely impacts human migration, access to water, global health, agriculture productivity, and food security, among many other issues affecting our collective livelihood. 

At PMI, doing our part to address the climate crisis is a key priority of our sustainability strategy. Yet, our efforts to combat climate change are not limited to working toward carbon neutrality in our operations and across our entire value chain. We also work to adapt to the impact of climate change and increase the resilience of our business and the communities where we operate. We are acutely aware of the impact our company has on both society and the environment, and we have been actively putting in place actions that can create a positive impact that is both measurable and verifiable. 

Our LCTP is part of our overall sustainability strategy, pulling together the entire climate and carbon work that our company has done, outlining our strategy, as well as the baseline for achieving our restated ambitious carbon targets, namely, to become carbon neutral in all our direct operations by 2025, and across our entire value chain by 2040. Concretely, this plan shows how our company will operate in the future, in a world in which a functional low-carbon economy exists. 


PMI's Low-Carbon Transition Plan


The plan combines both what has been done to date, as well as the strategy moving forward, including science-based targets and interim goals. It also recognizes the impact of carbon emissions on the environment and identifies ways in which we can reduce our own carbon emissions and help others to reduce theirs. It also links these considerable ambitions to our even greater fundamental ambition of ridding the world of cigarettes, while further seeking a net-positive impact. 

By presenting our low-carbon transformation strategy, we hope to encourage change and foster engagement with investors and other stakeholders who will be able to evaluate whether our company is appropriately adapting its business model for success in a net-zero carbon economy. We are also explicitly stating that the success of our business depends on our ability to adapt and respect social and environmental boundaries. The LCTP showcases how our targets are underpinned by detailed operational measures and a solid business strategy, which are vital to translate ambition into action, achievement, and impact, and most important, the only way to safeguard the sustainability of our business and to help contribute to wider societal action.