As the world celebrates Earth Day, fifteen Alcoa (NYSE:AA) employees are preparing to contribute to help unlock solutions to some of the biggest sustainability challenges of our time, including climate change and global water supply, after being awarded Earthwatch Fellowships by Alcoa Foundation.
The fifteen volunteer employees, who span Alcoa's global business and come from such diverse locations as Juruti, Brazil; Geelong, Australia, Beijing, China; and Indiana, USA, will each spend up to two weeks working alongside Earthwatch scientists on research projects that include understanding the impact of climate change on mammals in Nova Scotia, remediating mangrove ecosystems in the tidal forests of Kenya and restoring vital waterways damaged by acid rain in the mountain waters of the Czech Republic.
Since 2003, Alcoa's partnership with Earthwatch has resulted in more than 82 Alcoa volunteer Fellows directly contributing to critical scientific research projects and gaining a first-hand insight into how their individual actions impact the global environment.
In 2008 alone, Alcoa Earthwatch Fellows helped collect over 1,100 hours of critical scientific data - from analyzing climate change impact on Australian rainforests to quantifying tourism impact on Belize coral reefs.
Through a range of global and local outreach programs, Alcoa has been at the forefront of community projects that address environmental sustainability for decades.
Since 2006 Alcoa Foundation has invested more than $22 million on global climate change to inform public policy, build community capacity and awareness and mobilize individual action.
Alcoa Foundation President Meg McDonald said the Earthwatch Fellowships Program, one of a suite of employee volunteer programs supported by the company, not only provided Alcoa the opportunity for employees to personally contribute to future global sustainability, but encouraged them to share their learnings in the communities in which they work and live.
"Through the Alcoa Volunteers program, which in addition to Earthwatch, includes the initiatives Make an Impact and Ten Million Trees, employees are encouraged to make a positive environmental difference, around the corner and around the world," said McDonald.
"Alcoa's 2009 Earthwatch fellows will work on projects linked to global issues that are of great importance to Alcoa: climate change, global water supply, and sustainability.
"In addition to contributing to the knowledge needed to confront these global challenges, this hands-on support for scientific field work provides employees a rich understanding of how individual daily behaviors, both at work and at home, can contribute to a more sustainable future."
Through Alcoa's Make an Impact carbon footprint program, employees in the US and Australia have together committed to reducing their household greenhouse footprint by a total of 950,000 lbs. In the US this equates to an average energy cost reduction of $2,300 per household.
Launched on Earth Day 2003, the Ten Million Trees initiative aims to see 10 million trees planted personally by Alcoa employees by 2020. The initiative began in 1998 in Alcoa Brazil as an initiative to plant 1 million trees, and extended in 2003 (when the millionth tree was planted by the CEO in Brazil). To date nearly 3 million trees have been planted on a voluntary basis by employees worldwide.
Operating in a manner that protects and promotes the health and well-being of the environment has long been a core value to Alcoa. At the same time, we're delivering new ideas and solutions that will help build a healthier and more sustainable future both for the planet and its people. For more than a decade we have taken a voluntary global leadership position on climate change and continue to work within our business and out in the community, to be part of the solution. Here's how…
TAKING A STAND
Alcoa has taken an active public stand on climate change. We are a founding member of the Business Environment Leadership Council, United States Climate Action Partnership, Global Roundtable on Climate Change and founding reporter on The Climate Change Registry.
INVESTING IN GREEN TECHNOLOGY
In the US Alcoa has reduced annual emissions by 13.9 million pounds of CO2 through renewable energy certificates. Our newest smelter in Iceland runs on 100% hydropower and we are investing further in hydroelectricity in Brazil and the US; while in Australia we are the country's largest thermally efficiency co-generator.
DRIVING ENERGY EFFICIENCY
We set ourselves an aggressive target to reduce our direct global greenhouse gas emissions by 2010 to 25 per cent compared to 1990 levels. We met this target in 2003 - and to date have achieved a 36% reduction in greenhouse gases from the 1990 base year-a 44% Improvement over the initial target reduction
Aluminum can be endlessly recycled and in recycling we save 95% of the energy needed to make new metal. Alcoa has a global goal to manufacture 50% of our products from recycled aluminium by 2020 and to raise the North American used beverage can recycling rate to 75% by 2015. Last year alone, we recycled around 14 billion aluminum cans.
SUPPORTING RESPONSES AND ACTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE
In the last three years (2006-2008) Alcoa Foundation has invested more than $22 million on global climate change related projects to inform public policy, build community capacity, raise awareness and mobilize action. Additionally, since late 2005, Alcoa Foundation's flagship $9.2 million Conservation & Sustainability Fellowship Program has been unlocking answers to the most challenging sustainability issues facing the world today - climate change, energy use, water management, accelerated growth and development in all corners of the globe.