IKEA pledges 1 billion euros to help slow climate change

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IKEA, the world's biggest furniture retailer, plans to spend 1 billion euros ($1.13 billion) on renewable energy and steps to help poor nations cope with climate change, the latest example of firms upstaging governments in efforts to slow warming.

Chief Executive Peter Agnefjall said the measures would "absolutely not" push up prices at the Swedish group's stores. The investments will be "good for customers, good for the climate and good for IKEA too," he told Reuters.

He said the plan was motivated by a desire to tackle climate change, rather than to court favourable publicity. "Getting that message out to the customers is secondary," he said.

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IKEA pledges 1 billion euros to help slow climate change
Shoppers wait in a long queue outside a store of Ikea in Gwangmyeong, south of Seoul, on December 18, 2014. Global furniture giant Ikea opened its first store in South Korea a much-anticipated market entry that has stumbled at a number of commercial and cultural hurdles along the way. AFP PHOTO / JUNG YEON-JE (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
ALMHULT, SWEDEN - MAY 12: KEA CEO Peter Agnefjà ll announced a collection of furniture that can wirelessly charge devices at the Democratic Design Day conference at the IKEA headquarters in rural Sweden. May 12, 2015. (Randy Risling/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Shoppers walk past a logo of Ikea at its store in Gwangmyeong, south of Seoul, on December 18, 2014. Global furniture giant Ikea opened its first store in South Korea a much-anticipated market entry that has stumbled at a number of commercial and cultural hurdles along the way. AFP PHOTO / JUNG YEON-JE (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
EMERYVILLE, CA - JUNE 26: A customer leaves an IKEA store on June 26, 2014 in Emeryville, California. Swedish furniture retailer IKEA announced that it plans to raise the minimum wage for its retail employees in the U.S. by an average of 17 percent in 2015. The minimum wage will increase by an average of $1.59 to $10.76 an hour. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
A picture taken on November 28, 2013 in Toulouse shows the parking of an Ikea store.AFP PHOTO / REMY GABALDA (Photo credit should read REMY GABALDA/AFP/Getty Images)
An aerial view shows a Ikea department store on November 17, 2011 over Vitrolles, southern France. AFP PHOTO/GERARD JULIEN (Photo credit should read GERARD JULIEN/AFP/Getty Images)
View of the Ikea store in Roissy-en-France, north of Paris, as workers of the Swedish furniture designer Ikea hold a national strike calling for higher wages. The strike hit 16 of the 26 French stores, and some 500 workers out of the 5,500 due to work today according to management and about 50% of the personel according to the CGT union, one of the three unions that called for the strike. AFP PHOTO / JACQUES DEMARTHON (Photo credit should read JACQUES DEMARTHON/AFP/Getty Images)
A general view of Swedish retail giant IKEA in the coastal Israeli city of Netanya on August 24, 2009. Israel pressed Stockholm to condemn a report by a Swedish newspaper about alleged body-snatching that has stoked tensions between the two countries. Sweden's Aftonbladet newspaper sparked the row last week when it published a report claiming Israeli soldiers snatched Palestinian youths to steal their organs and returned their dismembered bodies days later. The Swedish government has declined to condemn the piece, saying it has to respect the principle of freedom of expression enshrined in its constitution. Hundreds of Israelis have signed an online petition to boycott the Swedish retail giant IKEA to protest the article and Stockholm's stance, the daily Haaretz reported. AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
NANJING, CHINA - AUGUST 28: (CHINA OUT) A member of staff works in a new IKEA store on August 28, 2008 in Nanjing of Jiangsu Province, China. IKEA launched a new store in Nanjing, the sixth shop in China, covering an area of over 30,000 square meters. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)
Haparanda, SWEDEN: Visitors at the new IKEA furniture department store 15 November 2006 in Haparanda at the very northern Swedish boarder to Finland and Russia. AFP Photo/Thord Nilsson (Photo credit should read THORD NILSSON/AFP/Getty Images)
BEIJING - APRIL 12: A Chinese worker performs during the opening ceremony of IKEA's new Siyuanqiao store on April 12, 2006 in Beijing, China. The world's leading home furnishings retailer, opens the 43,000 square meter store which is the world's second largest IKEA store on Wednesday. (Photo by Cancan Chu/Getty Images)
BRISTOL, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12: The sponsors balloon is seen as part of the night glow balloon display at the 'IKEA Bristol International Balloon Fiesta' at the Ashton Court Estate on August 12, 2004 in Bristol, England. The 26th annual festival, which runs until August 15, is the largest balloon fiesta outside the U.S. attracting 150 balloons and over 500,000 visitors. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
DELFT, NETHERLANDS - DECEMBER 11: The exterior of an IKEA store is shown December 4, 2002 in Delft, the Netherlands. All 10 stores of the furniture retailing giant in the Netherlands were closed after explosives were found December 4 in IKEA stores in Amsterdam and Sliedrecht, the Netherlands. (Photo by Michel Porro/Getty Images)
Hundreds of customers wait outside the Michigan's first IKEA store in Canton Township, Mich., Wednesday, June 7, 2006. The doors opened at 8:45 a.m., 15 minutes earlier than expected, and the hysteria began as the Swedish home furnishings giant opened its 28th U.S. location. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
** FILE ** People line up to get inside the first IKEA store opened just outside Moscow, in this March 22, 2000 file photo. Swedish furniture giant Ikea invited 250 guests, including the Swedish ambassador, to a grand opening celebration last Friday Dec. 10, 2004 of its new 230,000-square meter "Mega" shopping mall, the biggest retail store anywhere in Eastern Europe. But after a Moscow region bureaucrat said a nearby gas pipeline was a safety hazard, the mall doors were forced to remain firmly shut. (AP Photo/Maxim Marmur)
Malaysians queue up outside the new IKEA home furnishings store at 6:30 a.m. for the official opening in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Thursday, Aug. 14, 2003. The new RM180 million (US$47.4 million) IKEA store measures 35,811 square metres, the biggest home furnishing store in Asia. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
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An internal review last year showed only 41 percent of its customers see IKEA as a company that "takes social and environmental responsibility", below its goal of 70 percent by 2015.

IKEA, which had sales of 30 billion euros last year, wants to generate all the energy used in its shops and factories from clean sources by 2020.

To that end, it will invest 600 million euros on wind and solar power installations, adding to 1.5 billion invested since 2009. It has already signed up to own and operate 314 wind turbines and has 700,000 solar panels on its roofs.

The IKEA Foundation, the charitable arm of the family-owned group, would invest 400 million euros by 2020 in supporting families and communities in nations vulnerable to impacts of climate change such as floods, droughts and desertification.

COMPANIES TAKE STANCE

Senior officials from almost 200 nations are meeting in the German city of Bonn this week to prepare for a summit in Paris in late 2015 at which governments aim to agree a deal to slow global warming.

The Alliance of Small Island States, which fears the impact of rising sea levels, welcomed IKEA's planned investments.

"I am heartened to see corporate leadership in this area," said Amjad Abdulla of the Maldives, chief negotiator for the alliance in Bonn.

There are signs that companies are taking a more active approach, keen to show their awareness of consumer concerns.

Last month, top European companies urged governments to commit to slashing greenhouse gas emissions.

This week, six European oil and gas companies -- BG Group, BP, Eni, Royal Dutch Shell, Statoil and Total -- added their voice to calls for a pricing system for carbon emissions. The firms have often been accused of inaction.

Mindful of environmental concerns, IKEA says it plans to get more of its wood and cotton from sustainable sources.

It says it will ensure it grows as many trees as it fells by 2020. The top national suppliers of pine and other wood used in its familiar self-assembly furniture were Poland, Lithuania, Sweden, Germany and Russia last year.

(Reporting By Alister Doyle; Editing by Pravin Char and Keith Weir)

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