Companies in Ireland ‘on track’ with setting emissions targets

10 Jun 2021

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More than two-thirds of businesses in Ireland signed up to a Low Carbon Pledge are well progressed in terms of setting science-based targets by 2024.

Many of Ireland’s largest businesses are “on track” when it comes to setting science-based emissions reduction targets.

That’s according to a new report from PwC, which measured progress on the Low Carbon Pledge developed by non-profit national network Business in the Community Ireland.

Earlier this year, more than 60 companies in different industries across the country signed up to this pledge, which built on an initial Low Carbon Pledge created in 2018 to help businesses commit to cutting their carbon footprints and encouraging them to report annually on their progress.

The new, more ambitious pledge calls on businesses to set carbon emission reduction targets no later than 2024, based on the scientific aims to limit global heating to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

‘There is strong alignment between this initiative and the roadmap set by the Climate Bill’

A total of 64 companies in Ireland have now signed the pledge, up from 58 last year. Signatories include Accenture, AIB, Arup, Cisco, Deloitte, Eirgrid, ESB, Janssen, KPMG, RTÉ, SSE Ireland, Virgin Media Ireland and William Fry.

According to PwC’s report, more than two-thirds (68pc) of these businesses are well progressed in terms of setting science-based targets by 2024, with 30pc having already set approved targets and 38pc formally committing to setting targets.

Additionally, 42pc have set a net-zero ambition by 2030.

Kim McClenaghan, PwC Ireland’s energy, utilities and sustainability practice lead, said the report highlighted particular challenges that each sector faces when setting targets, but that approaches exist for surmounting these obstacles.

“These verified emission-reduction targets, grounded in climate science, put companies on a path to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prevent the worst effects of climate change,” he said.

Almost all (90pc) of signatories said they consider climate and environment, social and governance factors in their company strategies, and business model resilience was cited as the main driver for signing the more ambitious pledge from Business in the Community Ireland.

Minister for Climate Action and Environment Eamon Ryan, TD, said that as the Government is progressing towards targets on reducing carbon emissions with the Climate Action Bill, companies are “taking a major step forward” and innovations such as the Low Carbon Pledge could help us “get to net-zero faster”.

“With over 60 businesses signed up to the pledge, there is strong alignment between this initiative and the roadmap set by the Climate Bill,” he added. “Business leadership is a crucial lever for change.”

Tomás Sercovich, CEO of Business in the Community Ireland, said that the Low Carbon Pledge has evolved into a commitment focusing on tackling carbon impacts across value chains.

“This is significant, as most emissions lie within the supply chain, in most sectors of economic activity,” he added.

“The report highlights that many of Ireland’s largest businesses are on track towards setting science-based emission reduction targets by 2024 and a net-zero ambition is not optional any more.”

Sarah Harford was sub-editor of Silicon Republic