We have committed to a set of science-based targets and actions we will take over the next few years to reach our goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2030.
Working with the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi), we've set targets aligned with what scientists say must happen to reach the goal of keeping global warming to 1.5°C. Therefore, we have committed to:
- Reducing our overall emissions by 50% by moving to renewable energy; reducing emissions from business travel; and working with suppliers who are also committed to lowering their environmental impact.
- Transitioning to 100% renewable energy where possible.
- By 2025, actively engaging with our suppliers and ensuring that 55% of our suppliers (by spend) have science-based targets for reducing their emissions.
- Offsetting part of our carbon emissions we produce from 2020 to 2026, and removing any emissions produced to achieve net zero by 2030, according to the SBTi recommendations.
- Improving our transparency with reporting on CDP, a leading not-for-profit charity on environmental reporting.
Our progress so far and next steps
As a firm, we have made significant strides towards operating a more sustainable business. In 2017, we committed to reducing our carbon emissions by 15%, energy consumption by 10% and paper consumption by 30% by the end of 2020 – and by the end of 2019, we had beaten those goals.
In FY 20/21, we reduced our overall emissions by 76% – driven in large part by a near-total halt to business travel in the wake of Covid.
As economies open up and the firm resumes more 'normal' operations, we expect our emissions will return to more normal levels. To reach our net-zero goals, we will need to achieve a 5% reduction on all emissions year-on-year – using 2019 as our benchmark – and then remove any residual emissions from the atmosphere to achieve net-zero by 2030.
Teams across our network – including Procurement, Travel, Office Operations and IT – are working to help the firm improve energy efficiency and reduce our energy consumption and improve sustainability in our operations, and our travel policies and practices.
To complement our carbon-reduction work – and build on previous sustainability initiatives – we aim to:
- eliminate all single-use plastic from our network.
- move to 100% recycled paper across the firm, and continue to reduce paper use.
- encourage more recycling by taking steps such as removing under-desk bins and providing centralised recycling points.
Carbon offsetting in support of local environment and community
In 2017, we partnered with UPM GmbH to support a Gold Standard certified carbon offsetting project in China. Through our offsetting so far, we have supported over 2,800 impoverished families in rural China by helping fund an initiative that gives low-income people access to clean, convenient and free biogas for cooking, heating and lighting; and we aim to support 5,000 families by 2026.
The Sichuan Household Biogas Programme's aim is to install 1 million biogas digesters – which recover methane emissions from animal manure to provide clean fuel – and smoke-free cook stoves in one of the poorest regions in China.
Thanks to the initiative, the impoverished families in rural China are getting a chance to lead healthier, happier lives. The project helped not only to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, but also to improve the respiratory health of residents in a region where air quality suffers dramatically from heavy reliance on coal for household fuel.
Additionally, our contribution has a multiplier effect that generates annual financial co-benefits through salaries and wages paid to local workers for constructing biogas digesters and the increase of disposable income for all supported low-income rural households (fuel switch etc.).
“I think that the main reason for building a digester is that it helps saving money. But it has also a lot of additional benefits: our home is now free of smoke, flies and smells. It is also much more convenient for me to manage our family business while taking care of the cooking. With more pigs we would even be able to use the biogas for lighting and heat water for the shower”.
Huang Mingying, resident of a small village in the Sichuan region