Ireland’s largest businesses are making steady progress on meeting net zero targets for greenhouse gas emissions despite global upheaval and uncertainties, according to a new report from PwC.
The report prepared by PwC, in partnership with Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI), states that progress is being achieved by companies setting Science-Based Targets as part of a drive to move to net zero. Four years ago, BITCI launched its Low Carbon Pledge, with 47 companies signed up. That number has now grown to 70.
The report states that 70% of the Pledge Signatories are well progressed to setting Science-Based Targets (SBTs) by 2024, with the majority set to achieve their SBTs by 2030 or earlier.
“It is very encouraging to see the progress of leading Irish firms and their clear commitment towards decarbonising their businesses”
66% have set a public net zero target, up from 42% last year, with the biggest challenge being cost.
Just over a quarter (26%) of respondents in the Low Carbon Pledge report have set their scope 1 and 2 net zero ambitions to 2030 or earlier; just 12% have set this for scope 3 emissions.
The report, Business Working Together for a Low Carbon Future, outlines the progress being made towards decarbonisation. Leading Irish businesses continue to take a primary role in the transition to a low carbon economy.
More Irish businesses addressing climate change
Indicating more businesses are addressing climate change, 70 Irish companies have now signed the Pledge, up from 64 last year and 47 Signatories in 2019, the first year of the report. The Signatories span 11 sectors, with professional services firms, agribusiness/food & drink and financial services being the top three largest sectors represented.
Embedding Science-Based Targets (SBTs) in a company’s strategy is crucial. The Pledge requires that all Signatories commit to setting SBTs no later than 2024, and, significantly, review and assess indirect and supply chain emissions. This must include their entire carbon footprint (Scope 1, 2 & 3) and be in line with the Paris Agreement and the latest IPCC* findings. The ultimate goal of the Pledge is to achieve carbon neutrality and these targets are the first step towards a net zero world by 2050.
The report highlights that The Pledge Signatories continue to progress towards a low carbon economy.
“Companies should define comprehensive and ambitious strategies to achieve net zero that are consistent with the Paris climate agreement,” said Kim McClenaghan, Partner, PwC Ireland Energy, Utilities & Sustainability Practice Lead.
“It is very encouraging to see the progress of leading Irish firms and their clear commitment towards decarbonising their businesses. However, the majority must quickly move from statements of intent to mapping out clear decarbonisation pathways and formally signing up to SBTs.”
70% of the Pledge Signatories are well progressed to setting Science-Based Targets (SBTs) by 2024, up from 68% last year. This includes over four out of ten (41%) who have set and approved SBTs and a further 29% who have formally committed to setting these targets. It is important to note that the majority of those who have not yet set SBTs have set emission reduction targets, which is an important step towards setting SBTs. The majority of respondents are set to achieve their SBTs by 2030 or earlier.
Whilst last year’s Low Carbon Pledge report was set against the challenging backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s report is set against another major challenge – the war in Ukraine. The war demonstrates the impact of global geopolitical risk and shocks on national energy security and should be viewed as providing policymakers (and businesses) with further justification for accelerating investment and delivery of the renewable energy future.
“The scientific community has used every possible opportunity to warn us of the irreversible changes we are causing to the planet and our livelihoods,” said Tomás Sercovich, CEO, Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI).
“That is why our targets must be based on science. We are making steady progress towards our ambition to have science-based emission reduction targets set no later than 2024. This is a mission we cannot afford to fail and we cannot leave anyone behind. Business must act and business must lead.”
While 70 companies have joined up to the Pledge, 69 Signatory companies’ data was analysed for purposes of this latest PwC report on the BITCI Low Carbon Pledge. These companies are:
A&L Goodbody, Abbvie, ABP Ireland, Accenture, Actavo, AIB Group, Aldi, Allianz, An Post, Arup, Axa Insurance, Aviva, Bank of Ireland Group, Bidvest Noonan, Boots, Britvic Ireland, BT, Grant Thornton, HEINEKEN Ireland, Hovione Ireland, Iarnród Éireann (Irish Rail), Irish Distillers, Irish Water, Janssen Pharmaceutical Sciences UC, Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, KBC Bank Ireland, KSG, Keelings, KPMG, Lidl Ireland, Marks & Spencer (Ireland) Ltd, Momentum Support, Mercury Engineering, Musgrave Group, Cairn Homes, Cook Medical, College Proteins Group, Compass Group Ireland, Cisco, Dawn Meats Group, Deloitte, DePuy Synthes, DHL Supply Chain, Diageo Ireland, Dublin Bus, Eir, EirGrid plc, Enterprise Rent-a-car, ESB Group, EY (Dublin), Fujitsu Ireland, Gas Networks Ireland, Ornua, Permanent TSB, PM Group, PwC, RTÉ, Sky Ireland, Sodexo Ireland, SSE Ireland, Stryker Ireland, Tesco Ireland, Three Ireland, Ulster Bank Ireland DAC, Veolia, Verizon, Virgin Media Ireland, Vodafone Ireland, William Fry.