Low Carbon Pledge group seeks accelerated progress post-Covid-19

5 Jun 2020

Image: © Bashkatov/Stock.adobe.com

The latest BITCI and PwC Low Carbon Pledge report has found that member companies have increased emissions intensity cuts from 36pc to 41pc.

A report looking into the emissions of the companies signed up to the Low Carbon Pledge from Members of Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI) has revealed its latest findings, and issued a call to speed up efforts in a post-Covid-19 world.

It found that, compared with the previous year, pledge companies increased their emissions intensity reduction from 36pc to 41pc in 2019.

The pledge was founded in 2018 with the aim of being a starting point for member companies to commit to cutting their carbon footprints, report annually on their progress and develop a credible roadmap towards a net zero economy.

Key findings

Those signed up to the pledge have agreed to cut their direct and indirect carbon emissions (scope 1 and scope 2) by 50pc by 2030 and this year added a greater effort to lower business travel, water consumption and waste generation (scope 3).

55 member companies out of a total of 58 were included in the report across 10 sectors. This included Aldi, An Post, Bank of Ireland, Deloitte, Gas Networks Ireland, Irish Water, Ornua, RTÉ, Sodexo and Verizon.

The six member companies included in the energy and utility sector had the largest carbon footprint, accounting for 93pc of all scope 1 and 2 emissions for member companies in 2019.

Of the 29 companies that supplied data for scope 3 emissions, 91pc of their carbon footprint was the result of business travel. The report showed that the 45 original signatories of the pledge have reduced their total carbon emissions by 18pc year-on-year to 7.5 megatons of CO2 equivalent.

Nearly three-quarters (73pc) of all signatory companies reduced their carbon emissions from electricity usage in 2019, while just over half (53pc) are conducting external verification of their emissions data. However, nearly one fifth (17pc) have no internal verification procedures in place.

‘Once-in-a-generation opportunity’

Tomás Sercovich, CEO of BITCI, said the ramifications of the Covid-19 pandemic will result in the need for a “new economic model … that leaves no one behind”.

“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to set the foundations for an inclusive, fair and just net zero economy,” he said.

“Ireland has a huge challenge ahead to transition to a low carbon economy but also embrace the opportunities a net zero world will offer.”

Kim McClenaghan, PwC’s energy, utilities and sustainability practice lead and co-author of the report, said that “harsh lessons” have been learned from the crisis that could likely accelerate efforts to reduce carbon emissions across industries.

“Covid-19 has rapidly disrupted business norms and created new preferences and practices that, if sustained, could also lead to direct emissions reductions,” he said.

“These could include remote teleworking and increased digital social connecting, nearshoring, and regionalising and nationalising supply chains.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic