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EarthLab welcomes new distinguished fellow Josh Henretig to study corporate climate commitments and opportunities for UW collaboration

Josh Henretig

Over the past year, the corporate sector has become a bright spot in the fight against climate change, setting increasingly ambitious goals. The movement couldn’t come too soon as a January 2020 report from McKinsey reveals the physical and socioeconomic effects of climate change on individuals and communities.

Companies from a variety of industries across the world, including local leaders such as Microsoft, Costco and Starbucks, have stepped forward with an unprecedented level of commitment to voluntarily mitigate their own contributions to climate change and to make investments helping communities adapt to climate impacts.

What is the scope and impact of corporate climate commitments? What are companies actually committed to doing? What do they mean for applied research opportunities at the University of Washington? This spring quarter, EarthLab brought on Josh Henretig as its first ever distinguished fellow to illuminate these commitments and start a conversation across campus to explore what they mean for UW research and engagement.

“There’s no question that the corporate sector will continue to play an important role in the effort to mitigate and prepare for a changing climate,” said Ben Packard, EarthLab’s executive director. “Josh’s 17 years of experience at Microsoft offers the UW community unique access into this critical lever for climate action. The conversations we will host are just the beginning of a journey as we seek to apply the incredible resources UW has on this most complex challenge facing society.” 

From April through June, Josh will establish a comparative framework that evaluates the climate-related commitments made by businesses and what kinds of activities they anticipate pursuing to fulfill them. He will assess the largest commitments globally, those made by the largest companies in the Pacific Northwest, and will look specifically at commitments in the technology, consumer goods and aerospace/aviation sectors. 

“I was drawn to this work because of EarthLab’s innovative approach at connecting the world class scholarship and research capabilities of the University of Washington with outside partners,” said Josh. “From my experience in corporate sustainability, I know that there’s a big demand for science-backed support to make these bold climate goals a reality.”

Save the Date: Josh will present his findings in a virtual webinar on Tuesday, June 9 at 2:00pm. Stay tuned for more details.