Sustainable E-commerce January 31, 2019

Year-In-Review: How Etsy Advocated for Climate-Friendly eCommerce in 2019

Nearly a year ago, Etsy began offsetting 100% of carbon emissions generated by shipping in our marketplace. We’re proud of that milestone — not only is it allowing us to address 98% of our total emissions footprint, but we were also the first global eCommerce company to make a commitment at that scale.

While it was a good first step, our ultimate goal is to combine offsets with longer-term emissions reduction solutions. To deliver on this goal, we are advocating for legislation that promotes lower-emission shipping options and policies that drive the decarbonization of the transportation sector.

Photo: stewartprints

Here are some of the key steps we took in 2019:

We joined forces with companies across sectors to push lawmakers on carbon pricing.

In May, Etsy’s Director of Sustainability, Chelsea Mozen, traveled to Washington, D.C., with 75 other business leaders to meet with a bipartisan group of federal lawmakers. The goal? Encourage Congress to pass meaningful climate legislation, including a price on carbon. Setting a price on carbon has the potential to drive emissions reductions while strengthening the overall economy.

The effort was coordinated by our partner Ceres, a nonprofit organization that is driving action on the world’s biggest sustainability challenges by building powerful networks of investors and companies to advocate for solutions throughout the economy. We joined with businesses big and small, including fellow tech companies eBay, Microsoft and Salesforce.

We pushed for New York state to enact an ambitious climate plan.

In 2019, the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), considered “one of the world’s most ambitious climate plans”, came before New York State lawmakers. The plan set broad targets for emissions reductions: sourcing 70 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030; having an emissions-free electric sector by 2040; and achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Since Etsy calls New York home, we felt compelled to speak out in support of the CLCPA. In the lead-up to the New York State Senate’s vote on the bill, our SVP of People, Strategy, and Services, Raina Moskowitz, voiced Etsy’s support for the policy in an op-ed published in Crains NY.

“E-commerce platforms like Etsy can only encourage vendors to use low-carbon shipping if options are actually available,” Raina wrote. “A broad policy like The Climate and Community Protection Act can create the economy-wide incentives to change the logistical infrastructure needed to reduce emissions from last-mile deliveries.”

We’re pleased that the act was signed into law by New York’s Governor Cuomo last July and went into effect at the start of 2020.

We supported regional clean transport policy efforts in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.

The Transportation and Climate Initiative of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States (TCI) is a collaborative effort among 12 states and Washington, D.C. to develop a regional policy that will improve transportation, develop the clean energy economy, and reduce emissions from transportation. It would do this by capping and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector, and then investing the proceeds in a cleaner, more resilient and more equitable low-carbon transportation system.

The 12 participating states — Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and our home state of New York — are responsible for a massive chunk of total U.S. transport emissions, so any policy that addresses those emissions could drive meaningful progress toward the decarbonization of the transportation sector.

We showed our support of TCI by publishing a public statement of support in November. In December, our CEO Josh Silverman sent a letter to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo urging him to support the state’s participation and praised state governors after they signed a Memorandum of Understanding.

“Etsy strives to limit the negative impact that our operations have on the environment and even took the bold step of becoming the first global eCommerce marketplace to offset 100% of emissions from shipping,” wrote Josh. “But climate change cannot be solved by any one person, company, or government body. Everyone needs to do their part and focus on this critical issue. That’s why we are excited by the prospect of system-wide solutions to tackle emissions from the transportation sector. We see collaborative solutions like the Transportation and Climate Initiative as a critical step in driving meaningful reductions in carbon emissions in the long term.”

What’s next?

We are actively monitoring relevant legislation at both the federal and state level, and we’ll continue to advocate for climate-friendly policies. Alongside our engagement with the public sector, we’re continuing to lead by example. This means continuing to offset 100% of our shipping emissions, and collaborating with our vendors and peers on creative solutions to drive emissions reductions in the long term. We’re proud of the steps we’ve taken, but we also recognize that we are just one voice — we need diverse voices across sectors, geographies, and communities to work together to address this critical issue.

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Althea Erickson

Althea Erickson