What a difference six years can make. Since the COP21 Paris Agreement forged in 2015, there has been a surge in corporate climate ambition, with the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) leading the way. In 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) confirmed that to limit global warming to 1.5°C, the world needs to halve CO2 emissions by around 2030 and reach Net Zero CO2 emissions by mid-century. The IPCC stresses the need for deep reductions in CO2 emissions across the economy to achieve this limit.
The number of businesses committing to reach Net Zero emissions is rapidly growing. Science Based Targets (SBTs) have provided a clearly defined pathway for companies to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, helping prevent the worst impacts of climate change and future proof business growth, aligning with COP26. Evidence is already showing that companies with a science based approach are making real emissions reductions for our planet.
As a leader in the IT and business consulting space committed to achieving Net Zero by 2030 globally, we want to encourage others in our value chain to do the same. We will be transparent about our environmental credentials and future roadmap, making necessary changes to achieve our commitment. We are firm believers in the CGI principle of ‘what gets measured and made transparent, gets done’, and so we are confident that measuring and publishing our progress will deliver our Net Zero plan. The need to have this clarity is no longer an option—it has to happen.
Where are we on our journey?
We recognised the need to change how we think, work and travel to protect and future proof our planet. The pandemic has taught us that we need to use this opportunity to rethink and reset. We should do this, and we can do this – so why wouldn’t we?
We have collected, analysed and modelled our UK GHG emission data and committed to set a SBT in the UK. An SBT is a gross reduction target aligned with climate science and the United Nations Paris Agreement on Climate Change. In scope for the target are the emissions from all of our offices, data centres, our business travel and our supply chain. We have also built a formal delivery programme to deliver our Net Zero plan. We are using the same processes, skills and project disciplines that we would use to deliver any major client programme and are embedding operational practices, policies and actions to protect our environment.
Our UK Net Zero strategy is grounded in science. It is focused on prioritising emission reductions before neutralising our remaining residual emissions. Investing in verified nature-based carbon removal projects to supplement, but not substitute, our emission reduction activities. We will follow a Climate Positive Approach (led by SBTi guidance) in our transition towards a state of Net Zero, contributing to the broader social and environmental agenda while ensuring the integrity of our own Net Zero strategy.
As a result of the work we have completed so far, we have developed a robust plan. We take seriously the role we play in the IT and business consulting services space by looking at how we can support our clients in delivering their commitments and addressing their climate impact through our Sustainability Advisory Practice.
The pathways to achieving sustainable transformation
Any Net Zero target must have a credible destination, but the pathways to get there are just as important. Generally, pathways with rapid, profound emission reductions minimise risk to the climate and minimise trade-offs with other sustainability goals. We are looking to reduce our emissions across Scope 1, 2 and 3 as defined by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol in a few different ways. For example, we are identifying ways to optimise energy usage and savings and making changes to our company-owned car fleet. We aim to ensure our buildings and data centres have 100% renewable energy. We are also investigating changes to our event and travel policies, promoting electric vehicles and alternative modes of transport and placing our employees (whom we call members) at the centre of our plans through green member engagement, competitions, webinars, education and incentives. Finally, we are working with our suppliers to ensure they are also planning their Net Zero journey.
The COVID effect – the demise of business travel?
We can’t forget the role of the pandemic in everyone’s road to Net Zero. Reductions in business travel have been huge, which has been an unexpected, yet indirect positive impact towards achieving Net Zero. However, we know business travel will inevitably increase as the world returns to normal, but it is unlikely to return to pre-pandemic levels. To keep this increase in check, we will be aligning our business travel to our clients’ strategies and our new hybrid working model. The pandemic has shown us that we can still deliver high-quality service and maintain our business while travelling less.
To ensure these changes are achievable, we are looking at the practicalities we need to consider as we move towards Net Zero as a company. For example, reducing the number of in-person annual meetings and conferences and reviewing our travel policy regarding cabin class versus flight duration will greatly impact air travel emissions.
Another area we are considering is setting a carbon budget per business area managed similarly to financial budgets, therefore encouraging ownership within the business for controlling our carbon footprint. Other practicalities we are reviewing are indirect reductions through improvements in the carbon intensity of modes of transport over time and identifying ways to implement a relevant carbon footprint app.
At CGI, we have our plan and are clearly on our journey towards Net Zero for our business; we’d love to talk to you about how we can help you on your journey.