50 of the largest companies in Ireland report significant progress in cutting their carbon footprint.

More than 50 of the largest companies in Ireland that have publicly committed to halving their direct carbon footprint by 2030 have on average achieved 41pc in emission intensity reductions.

Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI), the national network for sustainability, created the Low Carbon Pledge in 2018 with the aim of being a starting point for member companies to commit to cutting their carbon footprint, report annually on progress and develop a credible roadmap towards a net zero economy.

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

BITCI’s Low Carbon Pledge is Ireland’s only collective commitment by the private sector on climate action and is recognised in the Government’s Climate Action Plan.

For the second year running, BITCI partnered with PwC to produce the Low Carbon Pledge reportv, Business Working Together for a Low Carbon Ireland, which shows progress of the Pledge signatories towards decarbonisation.  

The PwC report states that pledge companies are making significant progress towards achieving the target to decrease in carbon intensity by 2030. The average emissions intensity reductions across the pledge companies have increased from 36pc in the inaugural report to 41pc (the data analysed in this report relates to 2019).

“Building a new economic model as a result of the pandemic requires significant investment, innovative technology and a new social contract that leaves no one behind,” said Tomás Sercovich, CEO, Business in the Community Ireland.

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

“Ireland has a huge challenge ahead to transition to a low carbon economy but also embrace the opportunities a net zero world will offer. Our aim for the Pledge is to provide leadership, set a collective ambition and drive practical action.”

Toward a net-zero economy

Under the terms of the pledge, the companies undertook to cut Scope 1 emissions intensity (greenhouse gases produced directly from sources that are owned and controlled by the company such as fuels used in boilers, vehicles, etc.) and Scope 2 emissions (indirect greenhouse gases from purchase of electricity).  Scope 3 emissions are a consequence of the operations of an organisation, but are not directly owned or controlled by the organisation.

These emission sources occur across a company’s value chain. The intensity emissions are the emissions rate of CO2 relative to the intensity of a specific activity, production process or selected category (e.g. number of employees).

55 companies are listed in the report and represent 10 different sectors. The six companies in the Energy and Utilities sector have the largest carbon footprint, accounting for 93pc of total scope 1 and 2 emissions among pledge companies in 2019.

“The level of ambition amongst business leaders to accelerate their decarbonisation journeys is notable,” said Kim McClenaghan, partner PwC’s Energy, Utilities & Sustainability practice and co-author of the report.

“PwC’s latest CEO survey highlighted that investing in climate change initiatives will lead to significant new product and service opportunities. As companies look to rebuild, it will be important to future proof business models and, where possible, take learnings from our experiences of dealing with Covid-19.

As of June 2020, 58 companies have signed up to the BITCI Low Carbon Pledge. Data from Britvic Ireland, College Proteins Group and Iarnród Éireann (Irish Rail) will feature in next year’s report.

There are 55 pledge signatories from the BITCI network listed in the 2nd annual report, including: A&L Goodbody, ABP Foods, AIB, ALDI, An Post, Arup, Aviva, AXA Insurance, Bank of Ireland, Boston Scientific, BT Ireland, Cairn Homes, Central Bank of Ireland, Dawn Meats, Deloitte, DePuy Synthes, Diageo, Dublin Bus, EirGrid, Enterprise-Rent-a-Car, ESB, Fujitsu, Gas Networks Ireland, Heat Merchants, Heineken Ireland, Hovione Ireland, Irish Water, Janssen, Johnson & Johnson Vision Care Ireland, KBC Bank, KPMG, Lidl, M&S, Matheson, Mercury Engineering, Musgrave, Northern Trust, Ornua, Permanent TSB, PM Group, PwC, Ricoh, RTÉ, Sherry FitzGerald, Sky, Sodexo, SSE, NortonLifeLock, Tesco, Ulster Bank, Verizon, Veolia, Virgin Media Ireland, Vodafone and William Fry.

Written by John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 5 June, 2020

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