How Antarctic Conditions Brought Home Climate Action to TTI

Of all the material topics that affect TTI and influence the decisions of our stakeholders, climate change is the most significant. As the company mobilizes to accomplish our group target of a 60% reduction in carbon emissions from our productions and facilities (Scope 1 & 2) by 2030, each unit is contributing its part.

A key aspect of hitting these goals will be to effectively communicate the impact of climate change on our business to our internal stakeholders, and the real world around us.

To that end, TTI, through its Milwaukee Tool Asia business unit, supported 2041 Hong Kong with a HK$100,000 donation to sponsor a carbon negative expedition to Antarctica with ClimateForce.

From Left to Right: Co-Founder of 2041 Hong Kong Christie Lai, ClimateForce Expedition Leader Robert Swan, Co-Founder of 2041 Hong Kong and TTI Sustainability Executive Justin Yeung, photos by Trenton Branson

The initiative was led by Justin Yeung, a TTI sustainability team member in our Leadership Development Program who together with his partner founded 2041 Hong Kong and crowdfunded HK$270,000 for the cause.

For Yeung, there is nowhere on earth where the impacts of climate change are more evident than the Antarctic. “Antarctica holds both our past and our future within its ice,” he said, noting the continent contains 90% of the world’s ice and 70% of its fresh water.

As a region, the Antarctic is currently protected from commercial development by international treaty until the year 2041 (which is where Yeung’s Hong Kong-based group 2041 Hong Kong gets its name). Under the current treaty, the region is designated as a “natural reserve, devoted to peace and science.”

Indigenous wildlife of Antarctica, photos by Trenton Branson
The Ocean Victory, a specially adapted vessel for sustainable voyages and the 172 members of the 2041 ClimateForce Antarctic Expedition, photos by Trenton Branson

In March, Yeung joined the 2041 ClimateForce Antarctic Expedition which gathered 172 people, including leaders in corporate sustainability, climate scientists and activists for a sustainability leadership expedition to communicate direct testimony of the effects of climate change in the region, while sponsoring further carbon negative and sustainability projects around the world.

The group departed from the Argentinian city of Ushuaia in late March 2022 for a 12-day voyage aboard the Ocean Victory, a specialized vessel that employs clean technology that enables it to operate using 60% less energy than other ships of comparable size and boasts the lowest greenhouse gas emissions per passenger in the industry.

During the voyage, team members gather for a series of lectures, featuring Michele Malejki, the Global Head of Social Impact at HP, David Hone, Chief Climate Change Advisor to Shell, several sustainability practitioners, climate scientists, and expedition leader Robert Swan, a Polar explorer who was the first person to trek both North and South Pole, and then dedicated his life to preserving those regions.

The Ocean Victory, a specially adapted vessel for sustainable voyages and the 172 members of the 2041 ClimateForce Antarctic Expedition, photos by Trenton Branson

Upon arriving at the continent, the expedition surveyed various features through shore landings and small vessel cruises to get an up close experience of changes affecting the region.

“When I arrived, it was raining. That went on for three days,” Yeung recalled. At the time, Concordia Research Station on the Antarctic Plateau was recording a temperature 38 degrees celsius warmer than the yearly average for that day in the year. “It’s not supposed to rain like that,” he said.

In his work for TTI, Yeung monitors, collates and communicates group sustainability performance for our organization. Over the year, he will be delivering presentations on the expedition and communicating our climate goals to regional staff to drive collaboration.

The 2041 Climate Action Expedition boasts a carbon negative impact. While the journey and all its participants generate a net 252 metric tons of carbon emissions, the funds raised help remove 513 metric tons of carbon from funding various reforestation and carbon reduction projects including Jane Goodall’s 250 metric ton removing Roots & Shoots project in Tanzania, as well as Tomorrow’s Air via ClimeWorks in Iceland.

“There’s a linkage there I think we can directly associate with. Climate change is a collective issue that requires collective efforts, at scale” Justin Yeung, TTI Sustainability Executive

As TTI moves towards its targets, our collective reduction in emissions will have a much more impactful level of scale in terms of reducing carbon in the atmosphere.