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Episode 212: Emma Stewart, Netflix Sustainability Officer
Today's guest is Emma Stewart, Sustainability Officer at Netflix.
Emma is working to bring the company's carbon footprint to net zero, raise awareness through their film and television content, and engage their millions of members on climate and environmental change.
I was excited for this one because Netflix is a pillar company. They've got a big footprint and swing a big bat as it relates to their content, storytelling and audiences. We talk about Netflix's journey and how they got to be late to the game, what motivated them to get into action, what Emma's charter was coming in, where she started, and how she went about prioritizing. Some interesting tidbits come out in this discussion in terms of where the actual emissions are coming from, how they think about emissions they are directly responsible for versus the content production outside of the walls of their originals, how they think about things like offsets and carbon removal, and also Emma's general theory of change for what role companies play and what else needs to happen as it relates to policy, activism, government, and other things that are required to make this transition as quick and as efficient as possible.
Enjoy the show!
Jason Jacobs: Emma, welcome to the show.
Emma Stewart: Thank you, Jason. Lovely to be here.
Jason Jacobs: Lovely to have you, especially because it's so interesting to look at the, I mean, everything needs to change with climate change. It is like another industrial revolution. And while corporations are only one piece of that, they're a big piece and Netflix is an important company, not just in terms of the footprint, but also in terms of the storytelling and the content and, and the other things that you all do. And you're sitting in an important role for sustainability in the company, of course, leading the function and you came from, you know, kind of a more pure, sustainable world, if you will. So I'm really interested in your journey, in Netflix journey and in your thoughts on the broader transition that needs to occur, so I'm grateful that you're making the time to enlighten me and our listeners.
Emma Stewart: Well, thank you. Yeah, and I agree it's an important role and one, to be honest, I never foresaw myself occupying, so it came about in kind of a, a funny roundabout way. I like to joke I don't watch that much television and yet I was a huge Netflix fan despite that. And you're right, the company has really two footprints. We have an operational print, which translates to an environmental footprint. And then we have what some have called a cultural footprint or what we like to think of as serving up joy for our members and really being a window to the world through storytelling that travels across boundaries and across cultures.
Jason Jacobs: Normally, I start these discussions by asking to talk a little bit about the company itself. I mean, I'm sure all our listeners know Netflix, but maybe just give the two minutes both on how you describe the company and, and your role within the firm.
Emma Stewart: Sure. We are an entertainment company that got its start about 20 years ago. We were early in the distribution of, of DVDs. You might remember those red envelopes with your latest DVD enclosed inside, and then thanks to Reed Hastings foresight, was very early in moving into streaming video on demand. And so now get the pleasure of streaming into over 220 million households across 190 different countries, serving up hundreds of television shows, films and Netflix specials on any and day at any given time and have really over the past few years become a content studio. So moving from purely distribution to producing our own originals and building out our capabilities as a studio and also our relationships with some of the best talent, screenwriters and creators in the world.
Jason Jacobs: And Emma, what about your role? And I know, I know head of sustainability, but I mean, that can, it seems like that can mean so many different things, so what does that mean at Netflix?
Emma Stewart: So my role was created about a year and a half ago. October, 2020 is when I started. And it was the first sustainability hire for the company, which a lot of people in the sustainability field find a bit hard to believe since that puts us at least a decade behind most big companies and including our peers. In fact, many companies had set climate targets or biodiversity targets back in the, the knots. And now we're talking about 2020. So that was more a function, not lack of interest in the topic, but more a function of a very unique culture about which much has been written here at the company that really thrives on what we call freedom and responsibility or decentralized decision making.
So wherever possible, the company looks to decentralized functions and empower people in their respective units to make the decisions and the best interest of the company. But overtime, thanks to employees really galvanizing and, and elevating this as a topic, investors asking about in on a very regular basis. The press of course, interested in the topic. And what we found is our members, those who view our titles reporting that they're very interested in climate in particular, among sustainability topics. Our executives decided that it merited a centralized function, bringing in some technical expertise that otherwise didn't exist officially with than the company.
So that's really the story as to why it took a while to centralize and create the team. But we like to think that we're going as quickly as we can to catch up and possibly even deliver some unique stories and inspiration in light of what the world is experiencing right now, which is a, an awakening to the challenge that has thus far really lived in the realms of the, the hall of Congress and the, the halls of, of academic institutions studying it. But now it's front page news and reached the doorstep of most people on the planet.
Jason Jacobs: And in terms of your personal journey, when and how and why did you first become concerned about this problem? And at what point did you know that you wanted to work on it professionally?
Emma Stewart: I think I was 10. I remember looking out my window and wondering why humanity would want to unplug our own life support systems. Didn't seem all that wise. I was really interested in science. And one thing I learned was that our genes are kind of designed to perpetuate the species. And so by destroying the environment upon which our life depended, the air we breathe, the water we drink the food that ultimately satisfies us, that seemed counter to our ability as a species to survive and thrive.
And so I actually applied for a grant from the United Way, which I won, I think it was $1,500 or something, to start a club at my school that would do cleanups and that would instill sustainability practices, that term didn't exist at the time, of course, but at the school. So we put in EV parking spots, carpool shared spots. We put in a recycling system and each weekend we would go out and clean up a river, clean up a forested area. I can't tell you the things we found. We found a bowling ball. We found a shopping trolley, just unbelievable things that had been dumped in this suburban area outside of New York. And it was both fun and satisfying personally. And it really attracted a large group of people to the club. Now, some of them still are in the sustainability field professionally.
So back then it was assumed that that could be a passion but never a profession. And as I went to university and had to kind of forge my own path when it came to creating a degree that would allow me to study the confluence of fields that's required to do well and do effective work. Those degrees now exist. You can waltz into a university and get a degree in environmental management or science and policy. The business schools now have dedicated sustainability masters programs. None of that existed back then, and so speaking of my climate journey, it took a high level of determination, possibly stubbornness on my part, to forge that path because it wasn't carved yet for me.
Jason Jacobs: And I have kind of a weird question, but sustainability and decarbonization are they synonyms? And if not, what do they have in common and how are they different?
Emma Stewart: Well, sustainability is an umbrella term. So within that, you can think of it as stabilizing the climate, ensuring a healthy water system, hydrologic cycle, water quality and quantity is one way to think about it. It also encompasses protection of the land, the soils, the fauna, the flora, all these things that allow us as humans to breathe and eat and drink. It can also entail things like toxics in product design, the things that you touch, the things that maybe go into our body and probably shouldn't. And so sustainability as a, as an umbrella term is extremely loose and flexible, which is a pro and a con.
Decarbonization is one subset of that that really deals with taking an economy that has over the past 150 years, been built on largely fossil fuels. They were cheap. They were prevalent. They were also artificially cheap due to policies that favored them relative to more decentralized and cleaner forms of energy. And so decarbonization simply means transitioning the economy from one based upon non-renewable, non-sustainable and frankly, dirty, uh, public health polluting energies to ones that are more decentralized, more affordable and cleaner, like wind, solar, geo.
Jason Jacobs: Another strange one, but when it comes to, I heard you say, for example, on the ENGIE webinar that we don't have a lot of time, and that really drives the strategy and the approach at Netflix when it comes to the sustainability targets. I would think that the not have time, that's a decarbonization focus. Should that be a distinct function separate from sustainability or should it live within sustainability? And a related question is I also heard you say that you had the firm that does your financial auditing do your carbon footprint auditing. Does it make sense for this function, whatever it's called, to live in finance or should it be a dedicated function? Does it depend on a company by company basis? I'd love just, before we dive ran to the Netflix specific stuff, just some general thoughts there.
Emma Stewart: Yeah, at one point I had the pleasure of teaching an MBA course on what I called intrapreneurship for sustainability, so how to drive business value from within a large company by affecting environmental change. And one of the things we talked about is this very question of organizational design. I would put up three slides, an island, a bridge, and I think it was a, a park. Those were three models by which a company can think about sustainability.
An island being, it sits by itself. It's a self-contained unit, but it maybe doesn't interact all that well with the rest of the business. And that's frankly where, you know, corporate social responsibility started 15 years ago. It was often a separate unit. It was largely philanthropy and it didn't really have much say in the way business decisions were taken.
On the flip side, the park, the kind of embedded model would be where you're fully integrated. So maybe there's sustainability in your title, but you're distributed throughout the company and enmeshed and really function, uh, that has been operationalized fully. Most companies aren't there yet, but you're starting to see it. When, for example, in the United States, Securities and Exchange Commission comes out and says, "Mow your 10K is going to include the following rather extensive list of climate disclosures." Well, you bet the financial reporting team pays attention. You bet internal audit team pays attention. Treasury is now paying attention. So whether or not the sustainability technical experts sit in those teams, those teams need to step up and increase their literacy around these topics.
And then the bridge model is where most companies are right now, whereby, you have a team like mine that is standalone, and we all have full time responsibilities around sustainability, but we have a bridge out into the various functions. I think my team touches almost every team at the company in some way, shape or form. And so we have these partners and these collaborators in those different functions who have a sense of accountability and responsibility to advance the sustainability work, even if that's not their full-time job.
Jason Jacobs: Clearly you're someone that cares a lot about this problem. And again, I heard you talk about the timelines and how we don't have a lot of time and need to move boldly and, and quickly. You could have gone and worked in any number of organizations, in any number of functions and, and in life, we don't get that many shots on goal in terms of chapters, especially if they end up being, being long ones. What was it that persuaded you that this was the right place to anchor for the next phase of your career?
Emma Stewart: Well, as you rightly said, Jason, I have tackled this challenge from multiple angles, from multiple sectors, so I've spent time in academia, in consulting, in nonprofit and think tank research organizations and also inside public companies. And one of the things that attracts me to the in-house role is the speed by which you can operate. Companies are if they're well designed and well managed, they're built for speed and they're built for impact. And if you can align the business needs of the company with the sustainability needs, then everybody wins.
In contrast, the time that I spent in think tanks, as an example, was very fulfilling intellectually, but we would spend a year raising money and then another year writing a research report. So two years, hence we'd put out 150 page report that I'm not sure anyone ever read. So it felt like we were maybe doing a service, contributing some intellectual horsepower and insight, but in an extremely narrow way that wasn't applied.
In contrast, when you are in-house at a company, you are the consumer of those insights. Uh, if you're lucky, you find the time to read those 150 pages, and then it becomes the question of how do you operationalize that, can you operationalize that, what's the business value in doing so, and which of the battles in front of you do you want to pick? And so the academic research, NGO, think tank world is critically important as a support architecture for of us who are in-house, but just personally, in terms of my journey, I find it more satisfying, at least right now in this chapter, to focus on applying those insights and focusing on the, the implementation of that research.
Jason Jacobs: And let's talk about that, so first sustainability hire, this big successful company that's been around a long time and maybe behind, relative to its peer group in this area. It's almost paralyzing to think about where one would start walking into that. So talk a little bit about what the playbook was when you got in and what you found and what you've done and maybe where you are today in 30 seconds or less.
Emma Stewart: [laughs]
Jason Jacobs: No, just kidding. [laughs]
Emma Stewart: Well, I'm a big fan of two year roadmaps. That's kind of the right amount of time that you can see out 24 months, but it's hard to see further than that, especially in the private sector. And so after talking to our executive team pretty extensively in understanding what some of the risks to the business were from a sustainability standpoint, but also the opportunities, we put together that two year roadmap and a three pronged strategy.
It's funny because for my whole career, the work that I've done has fallen into three prongs. I remember writing back in 2005 a report at BSR called A Three-Pronged Approach to Corporate Climate Strategy. And now here we are. So apparently things, good things come in threes or at least memorable things come in threes. And then it was a question of hiring the best people. And that honestly is one of the biggest pleasures of my job and one of the things I'm most proud of is structuring a team of literally the best in their respective classes and realms and then helping design the dynamics between them and then acting as the glue, but never the subject matter expert, leaving them to be the deep technical experts in their respective areas. And as I like to joke, I just now skate across the surface and try and make myself useful, uh, to each of them each day.
Jason Jacobs: Uh-huh. And so I would think that if you want to improve something, you first need to measure it and be able to understand where you are today. Where are you as an organization on understanding your own footprint?
Emma Stewart: Yeah, the operational footprint was where we started. Some of the employees, actually on their own volition, had started measuring the energy loads in different parts of the business, which was really remarkable given that that wasn't their job or background. So we started there and then we broadened out based upon what the protocols and standards recommend when it comes to doing verifiable carbon footprinting. And that was a scramble, I will be honest, because as we had set a deadline for when we would publish our ESG report and it meant that we needed to actually get two annual carbon footprints done and audited in the course of less than six months in a company that had never done that before. And so we didn't even know who to call [laugh] or which data available. That was trial by fire in the first six months.
This year, needless to say was smoother, uh, smoother sailing. But once we had that in hand and you'll recall, this was also in the throws of the pandemic, and so we always had to look at the data with that context. Is this reflective of a typical business year or is this an anomaly due to the pandemic, which was why we chose to run two years worth of data through a carbon footprint at the same time. But once we'd done that and embedded a lot of the functions into what we'd talked about before within the finance team and gotten them involved, gotten our financial auditors to take a look at the footprint, then we had a decent idea of how large it was and where the biggest contributing, uh, emitters within the business were. And from that, we were able to also set a public target to reduce that.
So all in the first six months we did the measurement for two years worth, figured out where all the data lay, got it audited by the third parties and set a public target for reducing those emissions and for then netting them out to zero by the end of this year, s that was kind of October through March.
And then from there, it became a question of once we have our operational footprint in a place where we can start to chip away and decarbonize those internal sources of emissions, what else can we do as a company, what's unique to our company? Well, it's storytelling. And there, we did some measurement of our consumer base and also of our existing slate to see who's watching titles that shine a light on sustainability. And what we found was that just in 2020, 160 million households around the world chose to watch at least one title that explicitly was about sustainability. That's a pretty high number. And we, our measurement wasn't perfect by any stretch, but that was a decent baseline from which to understand there's an appetite for this.
And so we went and did a further consumer research study of 16 different markets around the world and found that two thirds of our consumers would like to see more climate and sustainability stories on screen and more stories in different genres that touch on these topics in everyday pedestrian ways, not just your classic nature documentary. So that again was a, um, exercise in measuring and baselining. Where are we today? What do our audiences want to see? And then supporting the creators and filmmakers who were inclined to serve that need.
Jason Jacobs: And when it came to getting the initial information, how much collaboration did it require from the business units and did you encounter any resistance along the way?
Emma Stewart: I think more curiosity than resistance. There were often requests for, "Can you provide more context as to why you're asking for this data?" Because it was literally the first time anyone had been asked to collect it outside of those couple pockets I mentioned where employees were doing it on their own. And greenhouse gas accounting is a form of accounting. You know, people are certified in this. There are multi-hundred page protocols around it. And so it's a real undertaking and we didn't expect anyone to become experts overnight. Our resources were pretty slim as a new, small team.
And so, yes, it was challenging but I wouldn't describe it as reluctance or resistance, more just as my old boss at BSR used to say, "Making the first pancake, the first pancake is always the messiest pancake, but they get cleaner and yummier from there." And so that was really just what it felt like was this is a bit messy, a bit laborious, but that's because it's never been done before. And generally speaking, the employees were so happy and in some ways, relieved that there was a central team now handling sustainability that I would say our react, the reactions were more enthusiastic and curious than they were resistant and reluctant.
Jason Jacobs: And when you got that first pass of the data, were there any surprises and what were your assessments in terms of the most important areas to fix/the biggest opportunities for progress depending on how you frame it, I guess?
Emma Stewart: Yeah, I mean, starting with the storytelling one first, the surprises were just the magnitude of the numbers and the interest that was evident from our existing members and perspective members, so that was instructive for us. And then on the operational footprint, I think the numbers reinforced what we knew, but hadn't proven, which is the making of film and television is by far a largest source of emissions for an entertainment company. What was interesting about that is that came as a surprise to some, because there was curiosity around the environmental impacts of streaming as a use of the internet, so really the internet provision and infrastructure that you and I are using right now to record this, as well as the devices, the tablets and televisions and mobile phones that people use to stream and do a thousand other things in their daily lives.
And so what was surprising to some was that actually, when it came to our footprint boundaries, the emissions associated with streaming summed to 5% who are very small compared to the two thirds or so that came from the production, the physical production of film and television. Maybe it shouldn't have been a surprise because the physical production of film and television is a bit like building a small city and then dismantling it a few months later. And you do that many times over in many different locations. The benefit being it's a great job generator and hopefully it produces a good story, but it is intensive in terms of labor and transport and energy. So that was not so much a surprise to us, but in some cases, people were curious as to how our streaming footprint related to our production footprint.
Jason Jacobs: Does it matter, from your accounting standpoint, whether it's a production that you are producing versus one that's being produced externally and being part of the Netflix library?
Emma Stewart: Great question and one, we debated quite a bit because unfortunately the greenhouse gas protocol does not weigh in on something so specific to the entertainment sector. In fact, there isn't a media and entertainment specific version of the protocol, so we were operating without guidance from the standard setters. And what that meant was we needed to apply the principles that we had drawn up to guide our hand from the start.
One of which was when in doubt take responsibility. So in this case, we were in doubt because the guidance was murky or non-existent, so what we decided was you could draw a very narrow boundary around which productions were included in our carbon footprint and our climate target, but that probably wouldn't make a lot of sense to consumers. The way we organize ourselves is around self-managed productions, partner managed productions and licensed titles, but most consumers don't know that and nor should they be concerned with that. So what we ultimately landed on, after much debate internally, was let's be bold here and let's take, uh, responsibility for titles that perhaps we ourselves don't produce. And what that meant was anything that is ultimately branded as a Netflix title on the surface, so it has a red N in the corner, we include that in our carbon footprint and climate target. And what that means is that's many hundreds more productions than would be had we taken a very conservative and constrained approach to drawing that boundary.
Jason Jacobs: And since you mentioned that you do roadmaps in two year increments, what are the key goals in this area over the next two years or the two year cycle that you're currently in?
Emma Stewart: So we've hit one goal, which was to set a science based target and get that third party validated and then each year to stay on track to ultimately achieve that by 2030, so most science based targets are a decade out. They abide by something called the Carbon Law, which is a useful way to think about what the world needs, which is to roughly half our emissions by 2030 and then to bring them to net zero by 2050. So we designed and got that science based target validated. And this past year, we just announced that we are on track to hit that 2030 target. We were able to avoid or reduce 10% of our emissions, which means we are well on our way.
But we're not complacent because we're a growing company and the productions continue to proliferate, which is great for the business and great for our members, so not something we want to constrain. What that means is that we need to therefore decouple our growth and production from our growth in emissions, so each production needs to get less carbon intensive over time. So that's the first, uh, target that we set for ourselves.
And then the second was what we call net zero plus nature. And what that meant was in addition to that science based target for reducing our direct emissions, we also voluntarily committed to tackle any residual emissions through the purchase of high quality carbon credits. And what that means is we're investing in nature's ability to retain and store carbon, which it has been doing for millennia long before humans showed up and does so in a tried and tested way that also have, has a myriad of benefits for the local communities to those projects. We've invested in Kenya, Columbia, Chili, Canada, the United States, Brazil, India.
And in those projects, by protecting and restoring the land's ability to retain and capture carbon, we also, those dollars go to improving the water quality and the water table to cleaning the air to creating sustainable livelihoods for the local communities based upon the sustainable management of those local resources or ecotourism, for example. And so they have a whole host of benefits beyond just the carbon benefits that we're ultimately paying for. And we spend an immense amount of time scouring the planet for the highest quality projects with the highest quality community and biodiversity co-benefits.
Jason Jacobs: So a couple questions there. One is on the actual monitoring of progress. You mentioned that, it almost sounded like an engagement by the way you worded it, but was it an engagement or do you have a technology platform that can monitor ongoing? In other words, do you, do you fly blind in between engagements or do you have visibility on an ongoing basis and where are you today and where do you desire, desire to be?
Emma Stewart: Sorry, Jason, I didn't understand. What do you mean by engagement?
Jason Jacobs: Oh, so it, it sounded like to do the carbon footprinting, that it was an engagement. In other words, like we'll do it this time and we'll understand where we stand versus we will set up the tooling so that we can understand where we stand ongoing.
Emma Stewart: Carbon footprints generally done on an annual cycle and they're generally done for the year prior, so when we published our ESG report in March of this year, that included our full carbon footprint, including the auditor's report for 2021. So that's a pretty typical cadence. Not every company reports their footprint each year. We've decided that that's good practice and we really aim for transparency where we can. But we are instituting automation systems, so there's a very healthy sector of enterprise carbon accounting software. And many of the ERP providers, the enterprise resource program providers, now incorporate carbon or ESG data into their offerings, so you can go with a traditional ERP or you can buy a, a tailored specific carbon accounting tool. And that allows us to do more regular data collection and more regular analytics so that we are assured in any given month or quarter that indeed we're on track in terms of our reductions and the, the carbon footprint is, is heading in the right direction.
Jason Jacobs: That was the nature of my question, understanding what's the role of software and tooling versus the role of say big five accounting and you know, where is it today? And then what's that ratio going to look like over time, not just for Netflix, but just in general in the, in the marketplace?
Emma Stewart: Yeah, we took a look at 50 different software packages, five zero, and we ultimately chose one that we're implementing right now. You know, I've worked long enough in the software sector to know that it's not a panacea. You still need humans and the quality of the data cannot necessarily be improved by the software itself. You need good inputs to get good outputs. But certainly when it comes to the labor intensity of collecting all that data, sanitizing it, structuring it, analyzing it, dash boarding it, the software, we're very hopeful, will dramatically cut down the number of person hours associated with that.
Jason Jacobs: And then I have a similar question around the, I forget what you called it, the net zero plus nature. So it sounds like there's a bunch of offset or credit purchases and that you evaluate those carefully. Is that assessment that you're doing in-house or you relying on the platform that purchasing them from or is there an independent third party that you work with? And what's your advice to other people in your shoes from other organizations that are starting to spend in this area and don't trust their own judgment yet?
Emma Stewart: Mm-hmm. Yeah, it is a lot of work. It does require a lot of expertise. We're lucky that we've hired some of the best in that particular space. And we wanted to share that luck, so we've published our process online so that others can borrow it if they so choose. We put all projects through a five step screening process and we do rely somewhat on a firm called ENG to help us with the sourcing. They do a lot of work in the voluntary carbon market, and we highly recommend them. But ultimately we're accountable for the projects that we choose, and so our in-house team also does quite a bit of the vetting.
We always ensure that a project abides by one of the top four protocols like Vera or, um, the gold standard. We all also insist that where possible it is validated by software and AI that looks at the landscape and ensures that indeed it is doing what it reports to on paper. And we also run our final project portfolio past our advisory group of experts, which is a group of an independent thought leaders in the policy, technical and storytelling spaces. A number of them have deep carbon market expertise. And so we run our recommended projects past them as well. And each project is vetted directly on the ground with the project developers. If it weren't for COVID, we would literally be on the ground with the project developers, because we find that interacting directly with the project developers, you find all sorts of things that don't show up on paper when they apply for, uh, our RFPs. And so we really put the projects through their paces before we consider an investment.
Jason Jacobs: And when it comes to business case, what is the business case to be investing in sustainability the that you as an organization hadn't for many years and are starting to now, and are there cases where the math doesn't line up and you could do something better for the planet? Does the math always need to work?
Emma Stewart: Well, I think it's a push and a pull. So there's a push from investors who regularly ask us questions about our, not just our climate risks, which is kind of the traditional investor lens, but also our climate targets and our business opportunities, which would be more in the storytelling realm. There's a push from employees who want to work at a company whose values they espouse and can be proud of. And we have actually a group of over 350 employees who have volunteered their time to help the company on its climate journey. And then there's of course, a push from regulators, so in multiple country, we are subject to requirements by federal and state governments.
But there's often a carrot too. You know, we're starting to see incentives, a number of provinces and states around the world, incentivizing low carbon production just as they want to incentivize production, because it's a wonderful job generator. They want to make sure to incentivize low carbon production that doesn't irritate the neighbors or make too much noise or deteriorate the air quality, so that's kind of the push side.
And then the pull side is the business case that we talked about that our current members and perspective members tell us that the vast majority of them are alarmed or concerned about climate change, about 80% on average, across the different countries and demographics. And that's extremely consistent, no matter where you are in the political spectrum, your gender, your age, which was surprising to some. And so that's a very clear market signal that there's a storytelling opportunity, there's a hunger for people to be talking about these topics. And that's likely why a film like Don't Look Up, which broke all sorts of viewership records for Netflix and was clearly a commercial success, being a climate allegory, it tapped into that cultural desire, that zeitgeist of people wanting to talk about a topic that is now affecting at least a third of people on the planet and is causing anxiety. But at the same time is also an inflection point and an opportunity to decarbonize and, and clean our economy and generate really high quality jobs in that new environment.
Jason Jacobs: Big systemic problems like this rear their head. There are some early principle leaders, if you will, that might stick their necks out and maybe make bold moves, not necessarily because there's a business case today, but just because they feel a responsibility given their perch and their platform and it's the right thing to do, and maybe there's some second and third order effects of hiring and brand halo and, and things like that. But there, you know, collective good factors in. Then there's others that are more mercenary and they're not going to act until their hand is forced. Where are we on that spectrum today? Are there any mercenaries that are, that are acting aggressively on, on climate action or are we still in kind of the voluntary principled leadership phase of adoption?
Emma Stewart: That's a tough question. I think even in, you know, the oil and gas sector, you see a pretty broad spectrum of companies who have recognized that if we're not at peak oil, we soon will be and that the economics of renewables are undeniable and have started diversifying their portfolios rapidly. And then you see those who have kind of stuck their proverbial head in the sand and have said, "We want to stick with this business and we're going to work through policy advocacy to ensure that it continues to receive the subsidies that have propped it up for so long." So I think even in an industry that is really central to successfully meeting the globe's climate targets, you see a pretty broad spectrum of players.
Jason Jacobs: Uh-huh, and from a Netflix specific standpoint, you mentioned that you are about 10% of the way there and that you, you want to get halfway there by 2030 and 100% of the way there by 2050. How much of the, the roadmap to get there is known and where are the unknowns?
Emma Stewart: So just to clarify, I was citing the Carbon Law, which is that the world needs to half global emissions by 2030, which is our science based target. And the world needs to net to zero global emissions by 2050 to stabilize the climate at a 1.5 degree temperature rise. We don't have a 2050 target. We have a 2030 target. When we get to 2030, and hopefully have attained that, we'll re-up to the next decade, but we also have this very near term net zero target, which goes above and beyond the decarbonization to target. Can you just repeat the question?
Jason Jacobs: Yeah, so how much of the roadmap to get there to that 2030 target is known and where are the blind spots?
Emma Stewart: Yeah, so the great thing about phase one being all about measurement is that we have a really good handle on what our big levers are. And they're largely around fuel and electricity and in particular, in production of the element television. So we know that we need to hit certain milestones in order to electrify production vehicles in order to hit the 2030 science based target. We also know we need to decarbonize our energy supply coming into studios or into our corporate facilities. The good news is we've managed already to source 100% renewable electricity for our studios and for our facilities, despite the fact that they are almost 100% leased, so these are not facilities that we control or own. So that's really a function of collaborating closely with landlords and the utilities.
Right now that's a combination of working directly with the utilities to buy clean electricity or where that's not available on a given grid, buying renewable energy credits to counter whatever electricity we are buying from that local grid. And the benefit of those credits is that we are paying a small premium to signal to the utilities our demand for renewable energy is above and beyond what you're currently supplying locally. And so we would like you to use this additional premium that we're offering up to invest in your renewable energy supply.
One example of that is just recently in South Korea, we became, I believe the first multinational company to join the government's new, renewable energy credit system. So our extra local currency is going into building South Korea's renewable energy infrastructure. So that's a good step in the right direction is decarbonizing the electricity that we use. We're also implementing a series of energy efficiency audits to make sure we're not spending money on clean energy we didn't need in the first place. And so we've done those across now over 30% of our square footage and found a lot of cost saving opportunities there.
And then lastly, when it comes to fuels, which are really instrumental when you think about a production, whether it's the, the diesel generators that are used throughout the entertainment sector or the fleet transportation needs of a given production, especially ones that are on location, fuel really becomes a big lever for us. So we're experimenting with decarbonizing those fuels. We're experimenting with electrifying diesel generators into clean mobile batteries, bringing in actually fuel cells powered by green hydrogen, which we just tested on the set of Bridgerton in the UK. We have now 17 mobile battery pilots going on, and we've brought in just in the first or in the last few months, 70 different electric or plugin vehicles to substitute for what were traditionally diesel. And so we're really trying to work out, with our cast and crew, what works best for you, what enhances production agility, and then look at the costs accordingly and bring in the best and cleanest technologies on that basis.
Jason Jacobs: And I know we're running out of time here, so maybe I'll make this the last substantive question. And, and that's just, can we get to where we need to go without serious government action? And if not, what is the government action that would go the furthest? And the last part is just philosophically, is this an area that Netflix uses your perch and resources to in any capacity in terms of influencing that government action and policy?
Emma Stewart: Well, we do partner extensively with governments, both on policy, but also on awareness raising. So actually last year in advance, the Glasgow Climate Summit, COP26, that captured all the headlines, we put together a collection of sustainability titles with the UK government who was the president of that summit. That went, we hope, some way towards sensitizing our millions of viewers as to why that Glasgow Summit was important from a policy standpoint.
And we've also been publicly explicit about certain policy levers that we think would help us achieve our net zero plus nature target at a reasonable cost and even a business benefit. For example, the Clean Electricity Performance Plan that unfortunately was nixed a number of months ago, but that was something that we felt was both important to our business and the competitiveness of the US economy. We've signed open letters by We Mean Business asking the G20 to ensure that their national climate targets are in line with a 1.5 degree temperature rise, no more.
And we've also worked in a collective with our peers through the Producers Guild of America to put out a statement on how the entertainment sector needs to have all of our emissions by 2030, not just one or two studios and how we have a shared need and desire to decarbonize the infrastructure upon which we rely for producing television and film. And that was really a call to action for policy makers telling them here's we as an industry need when it comes to infrastructure investments like EV charging that we ourselves cannot possibly deploy in isolation.
Jason Jacobs: And there's a number of people in the My Climate Journey or MCJ, a member community, if you will, who are working in large technology companies today and really concerned about climate and trying to figure out, do I need to leave my job to have a serious impact on this problem or can I do so from where I sit? You talked about intrapreneurship before, maybe some good parting words or just speak to them specifically for a minute. What advice do you have for them?
Emma Stewart: I don't think you need to leave your job. I've known people, actually the first sustainability person at Salesforce, she had a business card that said sustainability volunteer, so she made it part of her job. And she ultimately went on to lead their, their new function. But it's far more impactful for people to stay in their job and embed sustainability into the areas of influence that they have than to quit and look for one of the sparse roles that are full time within a company.
That said it is a technical area and you can't kind of bluff your way through it. I think people are sometimes surprised. I've heard from colleagues shock that, "Oh, this is, this is as complicated as tax law." And I don't know what they thought it was, but it is complicated. And so I would definitely find the time and get permission from your boss to find the time, maybe on the company's dime, to school yourself and immerse yourself in the technical nature of it really enjoy that because that will make you more effective as you bring it into your day job.
Jason Jacobs: Great, and la, last question. I know we're one minute over here, but just anything we can do as listeners to be helpful for you? Anyone that you want to hear from? Any hiring or I don't know, anything you want to shout out that would be helpful for you in your efforts at Netflix?
Emma Stewart: Oh gosh, that's so nice. I mean, I think make your voice heard, in general, whether it's with your local official or your school district or your grocery store or your bank. That's ultimately what the science and the research shows is your biggest lever as an individual and something that, you know, we are hoping to help support our creatives and filmmakers understand and drive as they speak to their audiences.
Jason Jacobs: Great. Well, I wish we had more time, but I'm so grateful for the time that you made, Emma. Thank you so much for coming on the show and for the important work that you do and sorry to run a little late here.
Emma Stewart: Likewise, thank you, Jason.
Jason Jacobs: Hey everyone, Jason here. Thanks again for joining me on My Climate Journey. If you'd like to learn more about the journey, you can visit us at myclimatejourney.co. Note, that is .co not .com. Someday, we'll get the.com, but right now .co. You can also find me on Twitter @JJacobs22, where I would encourage to share your feedback on the episode or suggestions for future guests you'd like to hear. And before I let you go, if you enjoyed the show, please share an episode with a friend or consider leaving a review on iTunes. The lawyers made me say that. Thank you. [music]