Dentsu International sets 2030 net-zero target

Dentsu International's emissions

The business has committed to reducing its absolute carbon emissions by 46% within a decade – an ambition it hopes to have certified by the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) in line with 1.5C. Its parent company, Dentsu Group, has already had its climate targets approved in line with the Paris Agreement’s “well-below” 2C trajectory.

By 2030, the remaining 54% of Dentsu International’s emissions will be brought to net-zero using carbon credits. Dentsu International said in a statement that it will only purchase credits through verified offsetting schemes and select projects to ensure that they have broader environmental and social benefits, beyond carbon removal. Its wider strategy is notably aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Dentsu International has made strong progress in decarbonising its operations and supply chains to date. Its emissions, on a per-employee basis, are now 43% lower than they were in 2015. A significant reduction in emissions was made this year, as the business shifted to 100% renewable electricity. To reach its new target, the business will need to apply learnings from these initiatives across the supply chain.

“By setting ambitious, science-based targets, as well as working with our ecosystem of clients, partners and suppliers, we will set about the radical decarbonisation of our entire value chain over the next decade,” Dentsu International’s global chief executive Wendy Clark said.

On the clients and partners piece, Dentsu International places importance on sustainable storytelling as well as supporting brands to set more ambitious targets. It has pledged to integrate sustainable behaviours into all design processes for all projects from 2021.

“As a global leader in media and marketing we have huge power to influence hearts and minds and inspire people to embrace a new type of lifestyle, one that is aspirational and rewarding, and that will help ease the burden on our planet,” the firm’s chief sustainability officer Anna Lungley said. “This is a collective challenge, one that is increasingly urgent and important to our global team of 48,000+ people.”

According to recent research from Data-Driven EnviroLab and the NewClimate Institute, 1,541 businesses globally had set net-zero targets of some kind by September 2020. This figure was up significantly from 500 in December 2019.


In related news, engineering professional services consultancy WSP has today (22 October) set a new commitment to halve the carbon footprint of all designs and advice provided to clients by 2030.

WSP is already working to bring its own operational carbon emissions to net-zero by 2025 but the new target recognises the fact that the environmental footprint of its clients are far greater and harder-to-abate than its own.

The new commitment covers both the materials used to complete a design and the in-use emissions of the project, like those resulting from heating and cooling. WSP has based the deadline and percentage reduction needed on the IPCC’s landmark report into global warming of 2C vs 1.5C, which concluded that the world would have the best chance of aligning with 1.5C if net global emissions are halved by 2030 and brought to zero by 2050.  

WSP UK’s director of sustainability David Symons called the new commitment “transformational”.

“This is the first commitment of its kind in our sector and will require us to make really substantial investments in skills, R&D, innovation and processes to equip every UK colleague to be carbon leaders as part of WSP’s Future Ready programme,” he said.

WSP is notably a member of a sector-wide ‘Pledge to Zero’ initiative, co-founded by AECOM, and of the Association for Consultancy and Engineering’s (ACE) net-zero infrastructure taskforce.

Edie’s content editor Matt Mace recently interviewed WSP’s Symons for an episode of the #SustyTalk video series, in which the pair discussed the role of engineering and the built environment in the UK’s green recovery. You can watch that episode in full here.

Join the conversation at edie’s Net-Zero Live

There’s less than a month to go until Net-Zero Live 2020. Taking place over three days (November 10-12) in a virtual format, this event includes high-level keynote talks, interactive panel discussions, facilitated networking sessions and educational masterclasses, as well as virtual exhibition booths showcasing the cutting-edge net-zero technologies and services that will shape the decade ahead.

Register now to hear from representatives of Unilever, the Committee on Climate Change, Inter Ikea Group and many more. Dentsu International’s chief sustainability officer Anna Lungley is speaking on  Day One. Click here for registration forms and for the agenda

Sarah George

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