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companies enlist workers in climate fight

Consulting firm Accenture kicks off a three-month employee engagement program this week to reward workers for reducing their personal carbon footprints.

The Eco Challenge encourages Accenture employees to estimate and reduce their personal greenhouse gas emissions, one of a number of corporate initiatives launched to celebrate United Nation's World Environment Day, an event held every 5 June since 1972 to raise environmental awareness and inspire action.

Companies have long used environmental holidays to highlight their green credentials and inspire their workforces to adopt more environmentally friendly behaviour. In April, for example, businesses held a variety of activities such as workshops and community clean-up events to celebrate Earth Day.

The concept of taking personal action behind Accenture's Eco Challenge resonates with this year's theme of World Environment Day: "Your planet needs you - unite to combat climate change."

The message highlights the urgency of the ongoing climate convention negotiations leading up to Copenhagen in December, according to the UN. The organisation launched a variety of activities this week, including its Climate Heroes program to support people taking extraordinary steps to raise awareness of climate change.

Accenture's Eco Challenge allows workers to measure their emissions and pledge to reduce some aspect of their footprint in areas such as work, home, lifestyle, energy, travel and commute.

As an incentive to get its workers on board with the Eco Challenge, the company will award environmental charity donations and sustainability education sessions to the country teams with the most participation and greatest number of carbon reductions pledged per employee. The challenge ends on 31 August.

DHL launched its 'My Green Day' event this week to encourage workers to reduce their environmental impact, including shutting off office lights for an hour. Meanwhile, tree plantings and gardening projects are among the 40-plus activities taking place at a dozen Anheuser-Busch breweries and agricultural facilities in the US.

The company also touted its environmental accomplishments from last year, including cutting electricity consumption by 5.1 per cent, water use by 13 per cent and fuel consumption by 8.6 per cent, which, along with other factors, helped Anheuser-Busch lower greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 10 per cent.

Alcan Packaging, a unit of Rio Tinto Alcan, launched an internal campaign called Sustainability Moments today to educate its employees about social and environmental issues. The campaign will last all year, kicking off with games, contests and tree plantings, among other activities.

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