Nike Announces Sweeping Initiatives to Combat Climate Change

Nike has unveiled sweeping initiatives as part of its newly announced Move to Zero program, the firm’s aggressive effort to tackle climate change.

On Thursday, chief sustainability officer Noel Kinder highlighted the brand’s push to become a zero-carbon and zero-waste business. It marks the sportswear giant’s latest push toward an eco-friendly future, after the Swoosh released four months ago its industrywide circular design guide to standardize sustainability in the supply chain.

As part of the program, Nike plans to power its facilities with 100% renewable energy by 2025; reduce carbon emissions across its global supply chain by 30%, come 2030 (in line with the Paris Agreement of 2015); and divert 99% of all footwear manufacturing waste from landfills.

Nike Move to Zero
CREDIT: Peter Verry

The Beaverton, Ore.-based company also teamed up with researchers at the Climate Impact Lab — a collaborative effort of more than 20 climate scientists, economists and experts from several universities — to study the connection between climate change and athletic performance.

It noted an impact across a range of sports, from football and running to tennis: Without global action, it found that midcentury peak temperatures could be 4% to 13% hotter compared to the 1980s, with the average athlete already experiencing 20% more “extremely hot days” compared to 1990.

“We’re feeling how hot it is around the world when we’re training and competing,” added Nike-sponsored tennis star Naomi Osaka.

Winter sports are also expected to take a hit. According to Nike’s findings, the average number of quality snowboarding days around the world has already decreased by 7% over the past three decades. By 2050, that number could shrink by 11% to 22%.

“I always thought there’d be plenty of snow in the mountains,” said Nike partner and Olympic snowboarder Chloe Kim. “We all have to do our part on climate change to protect the future of snowboarding and, more importantly, our planet.”

The Swoosh has been making environmental strides for several years. It currently diverts more than a billion plastic bottles from landfills each year, using them to create yarns for jerseys and uppers for its Flyknit sneakers. It has also introduced its Reuse-a-Shoe and Nike Grind programs to convert waste into new products, playgrounds, running tracks and courts.

“I think it’s going to be very impactful for such a big brand to be sowing the seeds of global warming and climate change,” track and field athlete Vashti Cunningham told FN.

With additional reporting by senior athletic and outdoor editor Peter Verry.

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