Arup pledges to go net-zero by 2030

07 October 2020 3 min. read
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Arup has become the latest in a string of global consultancies to announce it is targeting net-zero carbon emissions by the end of the decade. The engineering specialist has also pledged to work with communities around the world to help enhance their resilience against the consequences of climate change, including drought, water scarcity and food supply disruptions.

The number of major consulting firms aiming to achieve ‘net-zero’ carbon emissions in the next decade continues to grow. MMB firm Bain & Company recently marked its ninth year of carbon neutrality – reducing and offsetting its flights, taxi and train rides and all the energy required to power its 58 global offices, while rival Boston Consulting Group pledged to spend $400 million for climate positive goal by 2030.

Big Four giant EY also launched plans for the firm to become fully carbon neutral by the close of 2020, on the back of off-setting measures, while rival PwC said it would do so by 2030.

The latest firm to symbolically target its carbon footprint over the coming decade is Arup. The engineering consultancy has pledged to reach net zero emissions across its entire operations by 2030, as it announced a set of new climate goals the firm claimed have been validated by the Science-Based Targets initiative. According to Arup, the targets would actually exceed the requirements for keeping the world on track to limit global temperature rises to 1.5C, if they were uniformly replicated around the world.

Arup pledges to go net zero by 2030

“While the world grapples with the Covid-19 pandemic it is crucial that we do not take our eye off the ball when it comes to reducing emissions and managing the approaching risks because of climate change,” said Jo da Silva, Global Sustainable Development Leader at Arup.

Arup will now aim to reduce its scope 1, 2 and 3 greenhouse gas emissions by 30% within the next five years from a 2018 baseline, covering everything from the energy used in its offices to the goods and services it purchases. At the same time, the UK firm plans to purchase 'Gold Standard'-certified offsets to compensate the domestic and international flights its staff take, in order to hit the 2030 net zero target. A carbon levy of $40 per tonne will meanwhile apply to flights in a bid to change behaviour across the firm, with the proceeds used to establish an 'Arup Carbon Fund' to find and invest in further reducing carbon emissions.

However, according to Da Silva, like many other professional services firms, Arup’s biggest impact is likely to come from its influence on clients. She explained, the firm’s climate efforts will also include offering solutions to businesses and communities on this basis, “from helping city leaders take practical steps to meet the Paris Agreement, to working with property developers to understand how digital technology can reduce their resource consumption.”

Underlining this commitment, Arup has pledged to work with a range of organisations including the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the Global Resilient Cities network to enhance the resilience of cities and communities against the consequences of climate change. This includes work to prepare for increasing droughts, water scarcity and food supply disruptions, as well as to support innovations to help the world decarbonise.