Disney Cuts Electricity Use, But GHG Increases

by | Mar 23, 2011

The Walt Disney Company saw a 0.5 percent increase in direct greenhouse gas emissions between 2009 and 2010, despite reducing electricity consumption by 2.7 percent in that year.

The company’s 2010 Corporate Citizenship Report shows that greenhouse gas emissions declined by 4.6 percent between 2006 and 2010, and electricity consumption fell 6.6 percent during that time. But on a year-by-year basis, the company’s CO2 emissions have been up and down (see chart).

The company has a long-term goals to achieve zero net direct greenhouse gas emissions, and aims to get halfway towards this goal by 2012. It also aims to reduce electricity consumption by ten percent in existing assets between 2006 and 2013, and to develop a plan to aggressively pursue renewable sources of electricity.

Disney’s methods for achieving these goals are first to avoid emissions, reduce emissions through efficiency and replace high-carbon fuels with low-carbon alternatives, and then to use “high-quality” offsets to cover remaining emissions. It says that it defines offset quality by strict criteria and that offsets must meet credible standards such as those set by the Climate Action Reserve, the Voluntary Carbon Standard or the Gold Standard.

But Disney’s investments in forestry projects, made in 2009 and 2010, will not begin providing offset credits until fiscal year 2012.

The company has invested $15.5 million in offset projects since 2009, including $7 million for forest conservation in Peru and the Democratic Republic of Congo, with Conservation International; $2 million for reforestation in the lower Mississippi Valley and $2 million for reforestation in Inner Mongolia, China, both with the Nature Conservancy; $1 million for improved forest management in Northern California; and $3.5 for purchases of carbon credits from industrial projects.

The costs of the carbon offset projects are charged back to individual business units at a rate proportional to their contribution to the company’s overall direct emissions footprint.

To reduce electricity consumption, Disney resorts have implemented energy management systems and scorecards, replaced lighting fixtures and installed a thermal energy storage tank, among other measures.

Last year, Disney transitioned its measurement of emissions, electricity and waste from an annual to quarterly data inventory.

Other findings of the 2010 report:

  • In 2010 solid waste sent to landfill was 44 percent of total waste generated in 2006, beating a target to decrease solid waste to 50 percent of 2006 levels by 2013.
  • From 2006 to 2010, the total waste generated by Disney theme parks and resorts increased by 27,786 tons, due primarily to significant construction projects at Disneyland Resort in California.
  • Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment reduced the weight of a DVD plastic case from 83g to 45g. It also reduced the weight of shipping cartons and DVD paper wraps, and converted the wraps to 30 percent post consumer recycled paper.
  • Disney Worldwide Conservation Grants provided more than $2.5 million in 2010, declining in 2010 but increasing on average from 2008 to 2010.
  • The company has developed an integrated approach to the design of new construction projects involving an assessment of the ecosystem and a sustainable design evaluation process.

The company came in second last year in the Corporate Social Responsibility Index released by the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship and Reputation Institute.

The report follows the standards of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), Disney said. It is accompanied by six additional reports providing information on local impacts of the company’s Parks and Resorts segment.

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