Nathan Chen promotes Panasonic’s GREEN IMPACT initiative at FISU World Conference as it aims to significantly reduce its 110 million tons of CO2 emissions each year by 2050
Three-time Olympic figure skating medallist Nathan Chen spoke to attendees of the 2023 FISU World Conference this week to promote Panasonic’s GREEN IMPACT initiative, which has set ambitious targets for reducing carbon emissions, aiming to reduce its 110 million tons of CO2 emissions across its global value chain each year by 2050.
At the conference, the theme of which is ‘Save Winter’, Chen’s presentation on ‘Panasonic – Creating a Greener More Equitable Future’ is the latest example of how partnerships between the sports industry, individual athletes, and corporations can raise awareness of environmental and sustainability issues.
Second day of world conference highlights partnership between Chen and Panasonic
The Lake Placid 2023 FISU World Conference is part of the 2023 Winter World University Games, which are taking place between 12-20th January in Lake Placid, USA. Chen is among a range of athletes, scientists, authors, entrepreneurs, journalists, and thought leaders speaking at the event.
Chen, 23, an Olympic figure skater who most recently won Men’s Singles Gold in Beijing 2022, is a three-time World Championship winner and has also won six US National Championships. Alongside his sporting achievements, he is also an active campaigner and science advocate, and enrolled in a degree in statistics and data science at Yale alongside his training for Beijing 2022.
Panasonic, who are part of the IOC’s Olympic Partner Programme and a long-term sponsor of the Winter World University Games, have also worked with Chen on STEM on education initiatives. It was their ambitious environmental programme, however, that drew the most attention this week.
GREEN IMPACT campaign shows importance of corporate leadership in sustainability realm
Nathan Chen’s speech focused on Panasonic’s GREEN IMPACT campaign, which was officially unveiled last year. First announced in July 2022 and drawing on Panasonic’s Environmental Vision 2050, the GREEN IMPACT campaign provides clear details on Panasonic’s current emissions and specific aims for the direction of Panasonic’s environmental initiatives.
Ashley Mance, Head of Social Media for Panasonic, explained that ‘the Panasonic GREEN IMPACT initiative is really about taking direct action to counteract the effects of climate change on our planet.’
Introducing the initiative, Chen drew attention to the importance of individual, corporate and governance actions.
‘Individually we can all do our part by ensuring that the daily choices in our life consider how we can reduce emissions,’
However, he also emphasised that individuals alone cannot solve the climate problem: it is critical for corporations and governments to lead the way, and to ensure that effective infrastructure exists so that individuals can more effectively contribute to a greener future.
In light of this, Chen highlighted how important initiatives such as Panasonic’s GREEN IMPACT are for leading the way in advancing meaningful environmental change.
‘I hope this initiative can spur on greater engagement globally amongst our larger corporations,’
Panasonic GREEN IMPACT: aims and ambitions
The GREEN IMPACT campaign, championed by Chen, sets out to ‘create a positive impact on environmental sustainability’. Panasonic have stated that they want to challenge themselves to ‘go beyond just reducing emissions from our own value chain and contribute to avoiding emissions throughout society’.
To meet this challenge, the GREEN IMPACT initiative sets out aims that fall under four categories:
- Own impact, which includes emissions from Panasonic’s own factories
- Contribution impact, which includes emissions from customer use of Panasonic products
- Future impact, which includes developing environmental technology for the future
- Influence, which includes promoting renewable energy use through business and communication activities
In 2022, it was estimated that Panasonic emitted 2.2 billion tons of CO2 per year, primarily through its factory operations. Approximately 1 billion customers use Panasonic products every day, creating around 110 million tons of CO2 emissions across the entire value chain, which amounts to 1% of emissions from global electricity consumption.
To address this, Panasonic are aiming to reduce their own CO2 emissions across scope 1, 2 and 3 to 16.34 Mt by 2025. By using advanced manufacturing technology and clean energy solutions, they are aiming to convert all 250 factories into net-zero factories by 2030, and to achieve net-zero CO2 emissions across the entire value chain by 2050. The GREEN IMPACT initiative also aims to create a circular economy and meet a 99% recycling ratio for all factory waste.
To address the impact of consumer use on GHG emissions, the GREEN IMPACT initiative has set targets to reduce CO2 emissions of customer usage by expanding their technology portfolio and developing more energy-efficient products and solutions. Examples of these, some of which were recently unveiled at CES 2023 in Las Vegas, include perovskite solar cells for zero-energy building designs, environmentally friendly refrigeration solutions, and solutions for electric vehicle (EV) charging. Panasonic have also developed a ‘smart towns’ initiative in Japan, which has seen former manufacturing sites transformed into showcases for renewable energy, mobility, and health technologies. To address the future impact goal, Panasonic will continue to develop these cutting-edge technologies, with the aim of cutting emissions and accelerating the transition to clean energy across society more broadly.
Athlete ambassadors help ensure accountability and awareness
The GREEN IMPACT campaign is a step forward in the move towards public corporate accountability, and the inclusion of detailed objectives and accounts of emissions is welcome. Beyond this, though, Chen’s partnership with Panasonic is a further example of how athletes, sporting organisations, and corporations can collaborate to drive public awareness of climate change and sustainability initiatives. The use of celebrity and expert ambassadors to front and support environmental campaigns has been successful beyond the world of sport, but expertise and passion are key to making sure that such collaborations are effective and meaningful.
Chen, who was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, has spoken about how he has seen the impacts of climate change first-hand in his own home town. He has also spoken out in favour of bringing the Winter Olympics back to the city, recalling how the games hosted there in 2002 gave him the ‘motivation, drive and inspiration’ to pursue figure skating as a young child.
It’s clear that Chen’s own deep connection to winter sports makes him a well-placed advocate for climate issues, and an ambassador whose public-facing work should help to ensure that Panasonic can promote and deliver on their goals. He is not the only athlete taking up this role: both Naomi Osaka and Michael Phelps have also been involved in the GREEN IMPACT campaign.
As the FISU Winter World Conference and Games draw to a close, the importance of both individual and corporate responsibility is one key take-home message that will resound long after the final race. For both individuals and corporations, setting ambitious aims is key. As Chen noted, ‘to be a champion, whether at the Olympics or in life, you need to set a goal and then do everything in your power to achieve [it].’
The GREEN IMPACT initiative, and the collaboration between Nathan Chen, Panasonic, and FISU, is just one example of how creating partnerships can ensure accountability and awareness among both corporations and the public. As we look to 2030 and the need to meet ambitious climate objectives becomes ever more urgent, such relationships will be key for ensuring that we truly can ‘save winter’—and the planet.
Read moreBethany White