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22 March 2022
Visa looks to a decade of ‘radical collaboration’
Brand partnershipsSustainabilityNet zero
As the need for action on climate change becomes increasingly urgent, Visa’s chief sustainability officer wants to see a decade of “radical collaboration” involving governments, businesses and their stakeholders, and consumers to enable the transition to a low-carbon economy.
Why it matters
Visa itself has a relatively light carbon footprint, but as a payments company it may be enabling unsustainable behaviour among merchants and consumers. At The Economist Sustainability Week, Douglas Sabo, chief sustainability officer at Visa, highlighted the need to address issues in the supply chain and to understand the business case for taking action now.
Addressing internal practices
Visa has completed a transition to 100% renewable electricity. Sabo believes that process can be made easier for other companies by utilities offering more renewable options, either “baked into the grid” or through additional programmes businesses can enrol on.
While business travel is paused, it will return and Sabo expects sustainable aviation fuel will play a key role in decarbonising aviation overall. To that end, it’s signed up to the Clean Skies for Tomorrow coalition and enrolled in the United Airlines Eco-Skies Alliance committing to pay a premium for sustainable aviation fuel.
Visa’s commitment to net zero emissions by 2040 includes its supply chain. Large multinational companies will need to work with SMEs that don't have the resources to operate their own sustainability teams.
Understanding the business case
The business case for addressing climate change lies in risk mitigation as well as value creation, Sabo says.
If no action is taken, then more extreme weather events will disrupt commerce and economic activity, affecting communities and livelihoods – and payment volumes.
There are opportunities for Visa to encourage changed behaviour in the transport and tourism sectors, whether by removing friction from taking public transport or bringing open payments to electric vehicle charging networks.
“We do see a strong business case both from the risk side as well as the business opportunity side” – Douglas Sabo, chief sustainability officer at Visa.