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PwC Commits To Further Carbon Reduction Of 40% & Procurement Of 100% Renewables

PwC, one of the world’s most recognizable businesses, formerly Pricewaterhouse Coopers, has announced this week that not only has it cut its overall carbon footprint by nearly a third since 2007, but that it will now commit to reducing its total carbon by 40% and commit to procuring 100% renewable electricity. 

PwC, one of the world’s most recognizable businesses, formerly Pricewaterhouse Coopers, has announced this week that not only has it cut its overall carbon footprint by nearly a third since 2007, but that it will now commit to reducing its total carbon by 40% and commit to procuring 100% renewable electricity.

PwC is one the world’s leading professional services network, headquartered in London, and has a history that goes back to 1854. It ranks as one of the world’s Big Four auditors alongside Deloitte, EY, and KPMG. The company might not be as much of a household name as Nike or CocaCola, but it nevertheless employs over 235,000 people worldwide and boasted revenue of $37.7 billion in 2017.

So when PwC announces its intention to further its commitment to global sustainability, it is not simply a “big deal” for the company itself, but represents the headwinds of a larger global transition to a low-carbon economy.

Announced on Thursday, PwC revealed that it had cut its overall carbon footprint by nearly a third since 2007 in the UK, accomplished primarily through reducing energy consumption in its buildings by 77%. The progress made helped PwC surpass its 2007 carbon ambitions — reducing carbon emissions by 25%, keeping carbon emissions from travel flat, and reducing energy consumption by half.

The keystone of the company’s plans to reduce energy consumption was committing to a four-way combined approach:

  1. Operating differently: This included relatively simple initiatives such as turning lights off out of hours and switching to renewable electricity contracts.
  2. Redesigning offices: Designing flexible working spaces and ‘hotdesking’ means that less office space is needed, reducing energy needs.
  3. Refurbishing offices: Larger offices have been refurbished or built to reach the highest standards in sustainable offices. Three PwC UK offices have been recognized by BREEAM with the first ‘outstanding’ rating in their category.
  4. Investing in new technology: The firm has piloted new low-carbon technologies, including using tri-generators in its offices that run on used cooking oil. This has not only helped reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but has helped to bring these technologies to the mainstream.

Looking forward, PwC has committed to reducing its total carbon by 40% by 2022, as well as procuring 100% renewable electricity, and further reducing travel.

“By setting clear targets we’ve been able to make a significant difference to our carbon footprint over the past 10 years,” said Kevin Ellis, chairman and senior partner at PwC.

“Being very clear on what we wanted to achieve has allowed us to challenge ourselves to do things differently — from how we light, heat and cool our buildings, to how we design and use our office spaces, and how we work. We’ve made good progress, but recognise that we’ve also made some mistakes along the way and that’s why we’re keen to share our experience.

“Along our 10 year journey we’ve learnt a lot and have been able to pioneer new, environmentally-friendly technologies, which are now used more widely across the industry. Reducing our carbon footprint has also had financial benefits, showing that economic success and doing the right thing can go hand-in-hand. Our people and clients expect us to continue to lead the way, which is why we’re announcing new ambitious targets to reduce our carbon footprint further in the next five years.”

Another focus of PwC’s carbon reduction efforts is a facet that often gets overlooked — business travel. PwC committed to holding business travel flat, but actually managed to reduce travel by 4% since 2007 while nevertheless increasing business revenues by 44%, showing again that sustainability is no longer in opposition to economic growth. PwC focused primarily on minimizing internal flights while simultaneously investing in collaborative technologies that allowed employees to communicate online from anywhere.

“The role that businesses can play in limiting the impacts of climate change shouldn’t be underestimated,” added Bridget Jackson, head of corporate sustainability at PwC. “It’s encouraging to see so many organisations making bold commitments to decarbonise their operations.

“We haven’t got all the answers, but we hope that our journey helps and inspires other businesses to accelerate their own carbon emissions reduction programmes. It’s only by sharing best practice and lessons learnt that we’ll collectively be able to contribute to delivering the Sustainable Development Goals.”

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