Commentary: Business, beauty and Minnesota’s energy future

Dave Rapaport is the Vice President of Earth and Community Care at Aveda, based in Blaine, Minnesota.

Dave Rapaport is the Vice President of Earth and Community Care at Aveda, based in Blaine, Minnesota.

What could the creation of beauty products derived from botanical ingredients have to do with climate change?

As it turns out, some of those ingredients are sourced from regions around the world where climate change is taking its toll. In recent months, extreme rainfall in parts of Brazil has caused flooding that destroyed several villages of the Yawanawa indigenous people who Aveda has worked with for many years, while a devastating drought threatens communities where we source ingredients in another part of that country. And we are still waiting to know the impact on the supply of a nut oil we source from Vanuatu after that Pacific Island country was hit by Cyclone Pam, one of the most powerful storms on record in that region.

Driven by our mission “to care for the world we live in”, Aveda has long supported renewable energy through the purchase of Renewable Energy Credits and other carbon offsets, as we strive to reduce our energy consumption and carbon footprint. That’s why we support the expansion of Minnesota’s renewable energy standard (RES) and continued clean energy policies. While the state legislature missed the opportunity to extend the RES this year, we hope to see it pass in the next session.

We’re not alone in our commitment to low-carbon energy, as markets make it clear that renewable energy is a smart investment. That’s why, increasingly, clean energy has entered the mainstream, becoming an essential capital investment for many corporations.

recent study found that a majority of Fortune 100 companies have adopted renewable power and/or greenhouse gas goals. In addition, 18 companies in Minnesota—including Aveda, which was one of the earliest signers—and over 1,300 companies worldwide have publicly expressed their support for action on climate change through the Ceres Climate Declaration. Businesses recognize that “tackling climate change is one of the greatest economic opportunities of the 21st century.”

Here in Minnesota, we’re already witnessing increased frequency of severe storms, dangerously low temperatures and snow and ice storms that are adversely impacting our supply chain and our employees. From lost workdays to insurance premium increases, we are already feeling climate change’s impact on our bottom line.

The good news is that Minnesota is a clean energy leader. Our state’s RES is one of the strongest in the country—25 percent of electricity must be renewable by 2025—and we’re already close to achieving our goal, 10 years early.

Here in the North Star State, we’ve seen firsthand that effective energy policy can and does lead to reduced dependence on energy imports; creation of thousands of new, high-paying jobs; billions of dollars in capital investment and the benefits that stem from plummeting prices for solar and wind power. It’s no wonder a 2014 poll found that 67% of Minnesotans support a switch from fossil fuels to clean energy. An extension of that successful policy to 40 percent renewables by 2030 is an achievable goal that would provide increased certainty to Minnesota businesses making long-term energy decisions.

A 40 percent RES would expand clean energy in Minnesota—creating jobs, increasing investments, and helping to create a more climate resilient grid. In 2014, there were over 15,000 clean energy jobs in Minnesota and more than $5.6 billion in capital investment. A recent study by the state’s Department of Commerce finds that a forty percent renewable energy standard is achievable and will not result in electrical grid reliability issues.

As a business, we are always planning for the future, and these standards give us the clarity we need. For example, we’ve found that employing energy efficiency measures throughout our operations are helping us to save money while continuing to expand our business. The RES extension will help expand those opportunities; not just for us, but for many other businesses and homeowners as well, providing an important incentive for continued clean energy innovation and investment in Minnesota.

It is imperative that state lawmakers continue taking the lead by embracing the 21st century, low-carbon energy economy. By adopting smart, far-sighted energy policies for Minnesota, like an expanded Renewable Energy Standard, our legislators can create policy certainty for companies like ours that are already working to achieve their own clean energy goals. These clean energy commitments and policies will, in turn, continue to attract corporate leaders and private capital to the North Star State. And that’s good for all of us Minnesotans.

In short: expanded clean energy policies are the right solution for business, human health and the environment.

Dave Rapaport is the Vice President of Earth and Community Care at Aveda based in Blaine, MN. Aveda is a member of the BICEP (Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy) Coalition.

Editor’s note: Aveda is a major donor to non-media program areas at Fresh Energy, where Midwest Energy News is based.

One thought on “Commentary: Business, beauty and Minnesota’s energy future

  1. Doesn’t it seem ironic that a large cosmetic company (whose products are non-necessary to begin with) is demanding that the rest of society do a better job of managing the world’s resources? Maybe if they did a better-job of self analysis…their best case decision in helping the global environment is to stop producing cosmetics entirely and cease to exist. That way, these rare resources from the far reaches of the Earth would not be harvested and the energy they use (green or fossil fuel) would be saved for other more essential use.