Today marks a critical moment. Youth globally have led us in raising our voices at the Global Climate Strike to influence government leaders who are coming together at the UN General Assembly to (hopefully) make ambitious climate commitments.
Mike Cannon-Brookes, Atlassian’s co-founder and co-CEO, will be joining leaders from the private and public sectors this week at the UN Climate Action Summit to share what we believe to be true: companies like ours have a responsibility to act on climate. As global businesses, we can’t criticize from the sidelines. We need to act. We also believe that governments need to step up and do their part by setting bold climate targets and policies so that we can achieve a net-zero future.
Atlassian’s New Climate Commitment: Atlassian will run operations on 100 percent renewable energy by 2025. We’re committing to setting science-based targets to limit warming to 1.5°C and achieve net-zero emissions by no later than 2050.
This idea – that we all must do our part – is rooted in an Atlassian core value: “Be the change you seek.” And it doesn’t just apply to how we build our products and culture. In fact, we began seeking to change the trajectory of climate change earlier this year with a commitment to run our direct operations on 100 percent renewable energy by 2025. And we’ve decided to take another of our core values – “Don’t #@!% the customer” – a step further with “Don’t #@!% the Planet.”
To put action behind words, we joined over 87 companies including Salesforce, SAP, and IKEA in the Business Ambition for 1.5°C Campaign for Our Only Future. The campaign is underpinned by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), which is led by CDP, the United Nations Global Compact, World Resources Institute (WRI), and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
We believe setting verifiable targets through SBTi is critical because it aligns our strategy with the findings by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on what’s needed to limit the worst impacts of climate change and requires decarbonization of our business rather than simply offsetting our emissions.
I’m so proud of Atlassian as we rise to the occasion and respond to this call-to-action. I grew up a block from the ocean. My first jobs were lifeguarding and working in surf shops. From my small beach town perspective, it seemed like beach clean-ups might be enough to keep my little world protected forever. But once I got a job working on environmental change and migration for the United Nations, I immediately understood that what I believed was far from reality. I decided to follow a career in corporate social responsibility (CSR), which eventually led me to Atlassian.
Now, after almost a decade in CSR and in my fourth year at Atlassian, I’m able to fully realize all the things I’ve learned by launching Atlassian’s first CSR program. It’s incredible to feel like I’m doing what our founders promise all Atlassians: you’ll do the best work of your life here.
We know a transition to a zero-carbon economy is critical, which is why achieving net-zero no later than 2050 is an ambitious part of our commitment. Achieving our goals will require transformation, innovation, supportive government policies, and leadership.
This won’t be easy, but it’s the right thing to do.
Atlassian’s progress and the journey ahead
As part of a previous commitment to the RE100 initiative, Atlassian’s first milestone will be taking our operations from running on 15 percent renewable energy (where we are today) to 100 percent renewable by 2025. We’ll do this through a combination of energy efficiency measures and a procurement strategy that optimizes for impact across offices in seven countries.
Our new science-based commitment expands our roadmap to include carbon emissions across our direct and indirect operations like travel and supply chain. This is new territory for Atlassian. We certainly don’t have all the answers, but we plan to share what we learn along the way in the hope this clears the path for other companies to join us.
Finally, we plan on making our voices heard beyond Atlassian’s doors. Earlier this month we announced support for Atlassians participating in the climate strike, and joined the Not Business as Usual coalition to encourage other companies to do the same. The outcome? Atlassians invited students into our offices and hundreds of Atlassians turned out from Sydney, to San Francisco, to Bengaluru to call on leaders to take action against climate change.
Playing, as a team
In full transparency, our climate goals come with some unknowns ahead. What gives me confidence in our ability to make it happen is the sense of teamwork we have at Atlassian, and joining with other companies that share similar targets.
That’s why we’ve joined coalitions like the Business Ambition for 1.5°C – Our Only Future, the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance, and the Step Up Declaration. These collaborative groups help companies overcome obstacles faster by working together.
And I must call out the work the Atlassian team is doing. Over the past three months, a crew of more than 150 CSR Champions have built up a network and organized participation in the climate strikes, hosted climate movie screenings, and inspired Atlassians to volunteer and donate to climate nonprofits. They’ve come up with new ideas and solutions that I never would have thought possible, and demonstrated to the rest of the company how to live our values.
The executive support for the commitments we’re making to do right by our customers, our communities, and our planet make me feel not only that I’m doing the best work of my life, but that all Atlassians are doing impactful work that goes beyond our team collaboration tools.
There is no doubt that the scale of the climate crisis is more visible than ever. Given the science, we know beach clean-ups alone aren’t going to cut it. (Though, of course, I’ll keep doing them.) But as UN Secretary-General António Guterres said, “We have the innovation, tools, and expertise to make this happen – what we need now is leadership.” I’m confident, as a global community, we’ll all rise to the occasion and respond to the call-to-action to do our part in transitioning to a net-zero future.