A new PwC report has revealed that 47 leading Irish companies who took the Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI) Low Carbon Pledge last year are already achieving emission reductions.
The companies, including Gas Networks Ireland, ARUP, Jannsen and Tesco, committed to halve their direct carbon footprint by 2030. According to PwC’s report on the Low Carbon Pledge, Business Working Together for a Low Carbon Ireland, shows that companies are making significant progress.
Launched last year, the Low Carbon Pledge acts as a starting point in which companies can measure their emission reduction efforts each year. The aim of the Pledge is to cut their carbon footprint and collectively make a public statement on their commitment to addressing climate change.
Pictured are (l-r) Feargal O’Rourke, Managing Partner, PwC; Kari Daniels, CEO, Tesco Ireland and Tomás Sercovich, CEO Business in the Community Ireland.
BITCI commissioned PwC to produce the inaugural Low Carbon Pledge report which sets out a clear baseline to chart future progress. Using information provided by the pledge companies, the report shows their progress on the decarbonisation pathway.
Signatory companies have committed to reducing their Scope 1 and Scope 2 carbon intensity by 50% by 2030 and to report on their progress on an annual basis. The PwC report states that pledge companies are making significant progress towards achieving the target decrease in carbon intensity by 2030. The average emissions intensity reductions across the pledge companies was 36%. In addition, 66% of Pledge companies reduced their electricity usage.
Because of this initial significant intensity reductions over the baseline period to 2018, BITCI will focus on upping the scope and ambition of the 2030 greenhouse gas reduction targets. A critical challenge for companies will be sustaining such reduction efforts and focus on delivering further intensity improvements up to the 50% target and out to 2030 or an earlier date.
The report stresses that the recording and reporting of emissions data ‘represents a critical first step in businesses’ engagement with, and commitment to, reducing their carbon impact. PwC notes that the Irish market is still quite immature in the area of sustainability assurance but that awareness is growing. For example, 34% of companies received no form of external assurance or validation of their carbon data either in the form of 3rd party assurance, an external accreditation such as ISO, or an assurance opinion from a 3rd party assurance provider.
The pledge companies were drawn from traditionally carbon intensive sectors such as agriculture/agribusiness and energy/utilities but also includes pharma, beverages, transport, communications, retailing, technology and professional services. The breadth of involvement across business and industry illustrates BITCI’s commitment to ensuring that there is cross sectoral support in battling greenhouse gas emissions.
Minister for Communications, Climate Action & Environment, Richard Bruton T.D welcomed the report and said: “Leadership from enterprise is crucial, if we are to achieve the step change that is needed to tackle the climate challenge. Businesses can drive this change, both directly in how they manage their buildings, arrange their transport, and choose their energy source but also indirectly as ambassadors influencing their clients and supply chain. The opportunities and rewards are greatest for those who move early and lead the way forward.”
The report includes four case studies highlighting the actions that companies have taken to reduce their carbon emissions and in doing so improving the efficiency of their operations The companies – Gas Networks Ireland, Dawn Meats, ESB and HEINEKEN Ireland– outline their key actions in emissions reductions.
Welcoming the report, Business in the Community Ireland CEO, Tomás Sercovich, said: “Climate change is a reality and not a future-looking risk to be mitigated. Now that we have the data and concrete evidence, we have a strong mandate to mobilise more companies to make the pledge and raise their ambition towards decarbonisation. Investing in low carbon initiatives and engaging broadly in dialogue with policy makers, suppliers, employees and local communities will be critical to enable this transition to be successful.”
Kim McClenaghan, Partner, PwC’s Energy & Sustainability practice and co-author of the report, said: “The analysis of the submitted data has yielded rich insights into how particular sectors are performing and the case studies presented give clear examples of the actions needed to reduce corporate carbon intensity. In particular, it will be important to grow the number of initial pledge companies beyond 47 and extend the scope of the carbon commitment over time. 3rd party carbon data assurance is an area requiring attention and companies could enhance emission reductions through procuring green certified renewable electricity. Finally, strong leadership is critical to help businesses prepare for a carbon constrained world and to ensure that business strategies are aligned with an increasingly carbon conscious investor, shareholder, consumer and employee.”
This first report comes against mounting evidence of a rapidly closing window on tackling global warming and where Ireland is facing penalties of up to €150m next year from failing to meet its 2020 targets agreed by the EU. Last week (June 6th) the Environmental Protection Agency warned that Ireland faced falling far short of its climate reduction targets for next year and 2030. Over and above the significant financial penalties that Ireland could face, the latest IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) Report has shed light on the huge environmental losses the planet faces if we do not cut carbon emissions in line with a 1.5C temp increase and also estimates we have just 11 years to tackle these challenges.
There are 47 pledge signatories from the BITCI network listed in the inaugural report. The CEOs of the signatories were required to approve and sign Pledge documentation. The companies are:
ABP Foods, AIB, ALDI, A&L Goodbody, An Post, Arup, AXA Insurance, Bank of Ireland, Boston Scientific, BT Ireland, Central Bank of Ireland, College Group, Dawn Meats, Deloitte, DePuy Synthes, Diageo, ESB, EirGrid, Enterprise-Rent-a-Car, Fujitsu, Gas Networks Ireland, Heat Merchants, HEINEKEN Ireland, Hovione Ireland, Janssen, Johnson & Johnson Vision Care Ireland, KBC Bank, KPMG, Lidl, Matheson, M&S, Musgrave, Ornua, Permanent TSB, PM Group, PwC, Ricoh, SSE Ireland, Sodexo, Symantec, Tesco, Transdev, Ulster Bank, Veolia, Virgin Media Ireland, Vodafone and William Fry.
*Under the terms of the pledge, the companies undertook to cut Scope 1 emissions intensity (greenhouse gases produced directly from sources that are owned and controlled by the company such as fuels used in boilers, vehicles, etc) and Scope 2 emissions (indirect greenhouse gases from purchase of electricity).
The intensity emissions are the emissions rate of CO2e relative to the intensity of a specific activity, production process or selected category (e.g. number of employees). The average emissions intensity reductions across the pledge companies were 36%. The overall (or absolute) emissions are the actual volume of CO2e emitted into the atmosphere. The report also states that overall emissions decreased by 42% between a collective baseline period and 2018.
Some key actions by select companies to drive their emission reduction efforts and get on a pathway towards enhanced sustainability identified in the report include:
Set targets to reduce energy and water intensity and emissions intensity
Themed weeks on topics such as environment and waste to help maintain employee engagement
Energy efficient buildings e.g. insulation, natural lighting
Data analytics to facilitate informed decision making on projects to improve energy management
Heat recovery and using heat pump technology to meet hot water requirements
Appointment of Sustainability Director
Remote energy monitoring as part of energy management system
Prioritisation of vehicles for replacement with electric models
Metering system to identify areas of excessive energy use
Install LED energy efficient lighting system
Procure locally produced green certified renewable electricity
Founded in 2000, Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI) is the network for sustainability. It works with companies on all areas of sustainability from transitioning to a low carbon economy to working in the area of social inclusion.