Al Gore Delivers Surprise Speech at Clif Bar & Co.
Former VP’s Global Warming Message Coincides With Unveiling of Nation’s First Employee Commute Incentive Program to Reward Biodiesel Car Buyers
BERKELEY, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Clif Bar & Co. received a surprise visit Friday from former Vice President Al Gore, whose inspiring talk about global warming coincided with the launch of the eco-focused food company’s groundbreaking Cool Commute program. Cool Commute is the nation’s first incentive program to pay cash to employees who purchase clean-burning biodiesel cars. It also helps them buy high-mileage hybrids and offers a variety of rewards to those who leave their cars at home altogether.
“There is a hunger in the business community for practical solutions on how to put environmental goals into action”
Gore drew resounding applause from the 180 people at Clif Bar’s annual meeting as he challenged the company to continue its efforts to reduce its impact on global warming. “There is a hunger in the business community for practical solutions on how to put environmental goals into action,” said Gore, whose film documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth, presents a powerful case for addressing global warming. “Companies are searching for pioneers that are examples of positive change.”
Clif Bar is a nationally-recognized leader in the fight against global warming—Gore’s top priority as an environmental advocate. Clif Bar’s new Cool Commute program helps tackle global warming at a personal level by paying $5,000 to employees who switch to biodiesel (B100) cars for their commutes. In addition to a cash incentive for biodiesel, Clif Bar also will pay $5,000 to its people who buy a fuel-friendly hybrid vehicle.
Along with incentives for driving more fuel-efficient cars, the Cool Commute program awards points to Clif Bar people who carpool or leave their cars at home and opt instead to walk, bike or take public transportation to work. Points can be redeemed for tax-free public transit vouchers or gift cards from Whole Foods Market, Peet’s Coffee and other local green businesses. Points can also be used to support environmental groups such as American Forests, Clean Air-Cool Planet and NativeEnergy.
“We found that collectively the folks at our company consumed about 29,500 gallons of gasoline commuting more than 700,000 miles to and from work in 2005,” said Elysa Hammond, Clif Bar’s staff ecologist and co-developer of the Cool Commute effort. “By encouraging our people to rely less on fossil fuels in their commutes, we can make a difference as a business when it comes to arguably the single biggest issue facing us all—global warming.”
“Our company measures its success not only on how well we sustain the business, but on how well we help sustain the planet,” said Clif Bar CEO Sheryl O’Loughlin, who sought out Gore for the company’s annual meeting. “We truly believe you can operate a thriving business that treads lightly on our environment.”
“Clif Bar is constantly looking for ways to reduce our ecological footprint,” said founder and owner Gary Erickson. “We’re using as many organic ingredients as possible, reducing waste in our packaging, ‘greening’ our office space and offsetting our climate impact by helping build wind farms and planting trees. There’s a lot more we can do—and we’re committed to that journey over the long haul.”
Gore encouraged other businesses to also think beyond quarterly earnings and consider the long term value of environmental stewardship. He said most businesses now “treat the environment as an externality,” which results in decisions that “ignore or are actively harmful to the planet.”
Cool Commute is the first phase of a larger Clif Bar initiative that will eventually help employees address their environmental impact at home as well as at work, according to Jennifer Freitas, the company’s wellness advocate and co-developer with Hammond of the Cool Commute program.
Clif Bar & Co. is a leading maker of all-natural and organic energy and nutrition foods and drinks, including the organic certified CLIF® BAR energy bar delivering nutrition for sustained energy; LUNA®, The Whole Nutrition Bar for Women®; Clif Nectar™, the organic fruit and nut bar; and CLiF® ZBaR, the energy bar that nourishes kids in motion. Committed to sustainability, Clif Bar & Co. works continuously to reduce its footprint on the planet from the field to the final product.
Editor’s Note: Photos available upon request.