EY to be carbon negative by end of 2021

27 January 2021 Consultancy.uk 3 min. read
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Professional services giant EY has announced that it is on course to become a carbon negative firm by the end of 2021. The Big Four announced its intent to become carbon neutral last year, and now hopes to be a net zero firm by 2025.

February 2020 saw EY announce that carbon offsetting and the reduction of workplace emissions would see the company look to build sustainable growth in the future. The ambitious plans aimed to see EY’s global operations become carbon neutral by the close of 2020, a commitment which reportedly reflected the company's focus toward becoming a more sustainable organisation in future – improving environmental performance and driving long-term, sustainable growth.

Now, as the Big Four firm looks to capitalise on the momentum built from that initial drive, EY has said it will look to kick on from that by becoming ‘carbon negative’ by the close of 2021. In order to achieve this, the firm has set targets to significantly reduce its absolute emissions and removing and offsetting more carbon than it emits.

EY to be carbon negative by end of 2021Steve Varley, EY Global Vice Chair – Sustainability, commented, “EY has set this ambition because it is increasingly clear that, collectively, we need to do even more to help avert a climate change disaster. EY people are proud that we met our ambition to become carbon neutral in 2020. Inspired by them and others undertaking major steps, we challenged ourselves to go further, faster. We are deeply concerned about the science and what that means for our planet. We believe that becoming carbon negative in 2021 and net zero in 2025, reducing our emissions in line with a science-based target, is the right ambition to have.”

Reaffirming its commitment to the environment and to driving long-term, sustainable growth, EY also issued a seven-step guide to ways it will improve its carbon performance. Key elements of the ambition include; reducing business travel emissions by 35% by the 2025 financial year from 2019 levels; reducing overall office electricity usage and procuring 100% renewable energy for remaining EY needs; and structuring electricity supply contracts to introduce more electricity than EY consumes into national grids. Meanwhile, using nature-based solutions and carbon-reduction technologies, EY hopes to remove from the atmosphere or offset more carbon than it emits, every year.

At the same time, Varley admitted that EY realises that the challenges of net zero “are different and more difficult for certain industries.” As a result, another key goal is that EY will provide its teams with tools that enable them to calculate, then work to reduce, the amount of carbon emitted when carrying out EY client work. The firm will also invest in services and solutions that help EY clients profitably decarbonize their businesses and provide solutions to other sustainability challenges and opportunities; while requiring 75% of its suppliers by spend to set science-based targets by 2025.

Remarking on the plan, Carmine Di Sibio, EY Global Chairman and CEO, said, “We believe that combatting climate change is a vital element of building a better working world. While this challenge is unique and different for each organization, we are inspired by those that are setting ambitious targets despite the difficulties they face. EY people are passionate about tackling big challenges and with the power of 300,000 of them, we will not only transform EY to become a leader in sustainability, but also help EY clients do the same.”

As pressure mounts on the public and private sector to take quantifiable action to prevent the worst impacts of climate change, recent months have seen a growing number of major consulting firms declaring themselves to be net-zero carbon, or to be aiming for as much within a short amount of time. EY was the first of the Big Four to pledge as much, followed by DeloittePwC and KPMG over the course of 2020.