Willis Towers Watson commits to 30-year net zero target

07 May 2021 Consultancy.uk 4 min. read
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Global advisory and insurance broking giant Willis Towers Watson has announced a net zero emissions target of before 2050, with a halving of emissions across its business by 2030.

As November’s 26th UN Climate Change Conference draws closer, global business advisory Willis Towers Watson has become the latest professional services firm to declare its intent toward net zero greenhouse gas emissions. Pushing toward revenues of $10 billion and a 50,000-strong headcount, Willis Towers Watson has committed to a minimum 50% reduction in emissions across its operations by 2030, and the goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

“As one of the world’s leading risk advisors and experts in assessing and mitigating climate risk, Willis Towers Watson is committed to supporting measures aimed at helping to tackle climate change,” said Willis Towers Watson CEO John Haley. “The need to manage climate risk and support an orderly transition to a low-carbon, resilient economy is no longer solely a matter of conscience but a strategic and financial imperative.”

Willis Towers Watson commits to 30-year net zero target

Advisors to some of the world’s largest polluters, Willis Towers Watson’s consulting sector peers have been keen to emphasise their own climate credentials, one after another setting and declaring ever more ambitious emissions reductions targets. As a notoriously travel-heavy industry, much of that has been through carbon off-setting projects, together with internal reductions, with Bain & Company for example having already achieved a decade of net carbon neutrality.

More recently, the world’s leading consulting firms have been further upping the ante, leaving Willis Towers Watson’s ambitions looking a little pale in comparison. Roland Berger earlier this year sought to outpace its rivals with a fresh net zero target of 2028, two years before the commonly adopted 2030 deadline – with among others Capgemini and the Big Four opting for the end-of-the-decade target (although EY has since revised its goal to 2025)

Meanwhile, strategy leader BCG – the official consulting partner of this year’s UN Climate Change Conference – has committed $400 million overall to sustainability action and achieving a 2030 ‘climate positive’ target by removing more carbon from the atmosphere than the firm emits. BCG has however been advising the Australian government on its environmentally-dubious ‘gas-led’ recovery, demonstrating the muddy waters of climate action and consulting.

For its part, Willis Towers Watson – which recently acquired boutique climate change advisory Acclimatise – will look to lessen its environmental impact and carbon footprint by improving energy efficiency across the company, as well as by minimising general waste, promoting recycling, leveraging virtual meeting technology, procuring eco-friendly office supplies, and encouraging environmentally-responsible behaviour among employees.

Still, it’s unclear how the firm’s mega-billion dollar merger with fellow consultancy Aon – currently on hold due to numerous anti-competition reviews being conducted by regulatory bodies around the world – might impact its new climate commitments. Described as a necessary step to help mitigate the “catastrophic impacts of climate change”, Aon has also committed to a net zero target of 2030 – well ahead of the 2050 deadline set by Willis Towers Watson.