From Burger King to Whitbread: Business giants mark Earth Day with new climate targets

Several well-known brands, including Burger King, Ribena, Lucozade and Visa, have marked Earth Day 2021 by announcing new climate targets such as net-zero ambitions.

First held on 22 April 1970, Earth Day is an annual celebration 

First held on 22 April 1970, Earth Day is an annual celebration 

In this round-up article, edie briefly summarises all the new announcements in alphabetical order. A separate piece on new commitments and launches relating to other issues, including plastic, will follow shortly.

All announcements are separate to the news on Wednesday (21 April) that more than 50 firms have signed up to Amazon and Global Optimism’s Climate Pledge and that 160 financial organisations will partake in a new Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net-Zero chaired by Mark Carney.

Burger King

Burger King’s UK business has had new carbon reduction goals through to 2030 approved by the Science-Based Targets initiative in line with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5C trajectory. The restaurant chain will strive to reach net-zero operational (Scope 1) and power-related (Scope 2) emissions this decade. It will also cut Scope 3 (indirect) emissions by 41%, against a 2019 baseline.

Burger King UK’s head of strategy and responsible business Nicola Pierce called the move “scientifically sound and crucially important”, building on the business’s broader sustainability charter, updated in March.  

“We’re conscious of the scale of the challenge and intend to achieve our goal through industry collaboration and working with expert external stakeholders who can inform our key business decisions,” Pierce said alluding to Burger King’s participation in the hospitality sector’s Zero Carbon Forum. “Sustainability is at the core of Burger King UK’s values and the way we operate will continue to reflect those beliefs.”

Berry Global

Similarly, US-based packaging firm Berry Global announced that the SBTi has verified new targets to reduce Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 25% and supply chain emissions by 8% by 2025, against a 2019 baseline year.

The SBTi has given the 1.5C seal of approval in a first for the US’s plastic packaging sector. Berry Global has already reduced its overall emissions intensity by 19% since 2016 and is aiming to bring that figure to 25% by the end of the year.

“This is an important milestone in our decarbonization journey, equipping Berry for the transition to a net-zero economy,” Berry Global’s vice-president for sustainability Robert Flores said “We’re embracing the challenge ahead by decreasing energy demand and purchasing clean energy, enhancing the sustainability of our products and prioritising environmentally conscious partnerships and infrastructure.”

Cisco

Cisco is one of the world’s biggest hardware, software and telecoms firms, but edie has not received many sustainability-related announcements in recent months. Cisco had already pledged to source 85% of electricity, globally, from renewables by 2022, and to reduce Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 60% by 2022 against a 2007 baseline.

This week, the firm confirmed plans to spend $100m on non-profits working on climate mitigation and adaptation this decade, through the Cisco Foundation. Solutions set to benefit include technologies and education schemes. In order to be eligible, schemes must either mitigate or sequester carbon; increase access to green hobs or skills; support low-carbon behaviour change or increase climate resilience.

“Confronting the climate crisis is going to require strategic urgency, responding to immediate needs but also investing in innovative solutions to help scale for impact in the years to come,” Cisco’s executive vice-president and chief of people, policy and purpose, Francine Katsoudas, said.

Centrica

Centrica set a 2045 net-zero target for its own business last month. It has today built on this pledge with a commitment to help all customers lead net-zero lives by 2050.

Focus areas will include accelerating electric vehicle charging infrastructure deployment and helping business and domestic customers to transition to low-carbon heat.

The firm has also committed to “reflect the full diversity of the communities it serves” in the workforce in all regions and at all levels of seniority. Specific actions include recruiting 1,000 apprentices by 2022, with half of the new joiners being women.

Dell

ICT giant Dell’s 2030 business coals include an aim to halve Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2030. This is backed up by pledges to source 75% of electricity from renewable sources and to reduce the energy intensity of the product portfolio by 80%. All goals have a 2012 baseline.

The firm has now set a longer-term, net-zero goal. Deadlined at 2050, the goal covers Scopes 1, 2 and 3, including the supply chain and consumer use.

Dell’s head of global sustainability Page Motes said: “When it comes to Scope 3 emissions associated with our supply chain, we are working closely with our direct material suppliers to meet an SBTi-approved emissions reduction target of 60% per unit revenue by 2030.

“We engage with our suppliers every step of the way to monitor and manage their carbon footprints and, going forward, to help them procure renewable electricity, increase energy efficiency, improve their logistics, and refine climate-related measurement and reporting.

“Our biggest challenge will be our downstream Scope 3 emissions related to the use of our products.”

Fora

The past 12 months have undeniably required sizeable changes for businesses across the value chain of office workplaces. It is heartening to see so many firms linking the trend towards flexible and remote working with the development of spaces that are more sustainable for people and the planet, as well as financially.

With this in mind, flexible workspace provider Fora has committed to becoming a net-zero business by 2030. Fora operates 12 locations in London, plus two in Reading and Cambridge respectively. It will work with organisations including Planet Mark to deliver the new target, reporting on progress every six months.

A statement from the business reads: “With buildings accounting for 40% of the world’s carbon emissions, Fora strives to address all facets of its impact, including new and existing buildings, operational and embodied carbon and energy consumption. Residual emissions will be offset using a Gold Standard programme and progress updates will be offered every six months.”

Mulberry 

Tuesday (20 April) saw British luxury fashion brand Mulberry announce a new 'Made to Last' sustainability strategy. The strategy includes a 2035 net-zero emissions target, covering all Scopes. 

In an exclusive interview with edie, Mulberry boss Thierry Andretta explained that the brand is currently in the process of gathering detailed carbon footprint information to create an accurate baseline. From there, it can identify emissions hotspots and develop specific interim targets.

Today, Mulberry will use editorial coverage in several high-profile national and international fashion and business publication to urge other businesses to follow suit. 

Nestle

December 220 saw Nestle outlining plans to halve its absolute emissions by 2030 and bring them to net-zero by 2050 – a vision backed with more than £2bn of investment.

Building on this commitment, owned brand KitKat is targeting carbon neutrality by 2025. It has committed to halving emissions associated with ingredient sourcing, manufacturing and distribution – some of the highest-carbon parts of the value chain – to deliver this target.

“For any emissions that cannot be eliminated, the brand will invest in high-quality offsetting based on natural climate solutions,” KitKat said in a statement. Nestle is using insetting as well as offsetting, investing in forest restoration and regenerative agriculture practices such as cover cropping on cocoa farms in its supply chains.

Suntory Beverage & Food Group UK&I

Beverage giant Lucozade Ribena Suntory set a 2050 net-zero target last year. Now, Suntory Beverage & Food GB&I has developed interim targets to support this long-term vision.

The business has pledged to halve operational emissions and reduce value chain emissions by 30% by the end of the decade, against a 2019 baseline. It recorded an 8% year-on-year reduction in absolute emissions in 2020 and has stated its intention to maintain progress once production and international travel reaches pre-Covid-19 levels again.

Suntory Beverage and Food GB&I’s director of external affairs and sustainability Michelle Norman said the new interim targets are “ambitious”. “To achieve this reduction, we will be examining every aspect of our supply chain operations and wider value chain from ingredients in our drinks and materials in manufacturing to fuel in our vehicles and fertiliser on our farms,” she explained.

Verizon

After joining the Climate Pledge last year and pledging to reach net-zero by 2035, Verizon has announced new SBTi-approved interim targets. The multinational telecoms giant will reduce Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 53% by 2030 and Scope 3 emissions by 40% by 2035 to minimise the extent to which offsetting will be needed. Both goals are set against a 2019 baseline.

Verizon also announced a target to ensure that its products and solutions help to avoid 20 million metric tonnes of CO2e annually from 2030. The level of greenhouse gas avoidance in 2020 was 12 million metric tonnes.

Visa

Visa was one of the 53 companies to join the Climate Pledge earlier this week, along with the likes of Colgate-Palmolive and PepsiCo. Now, it has confirmed that it will target net-zero across its global business by 2040.

Visa achieved carbon-neutral operations powered by 100% renewable electricity in 2020 and had already outlined plans to for ‘climate positive’ operations. Reaching the new goal will require emissions to be reduced in line with 1.5C-aligned science-based targets; the SBTi will announce verification within 24 months.

As well as the Climate Pledge, Visa has also joined WWF’s Climate Business Network and forged a partnership with the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) to to help deliver the new goal. A statement from the business outlines how adhering with “with emerging global standards and definitions” and collaborating closely with suppliers will be crucial to delivering net-zero.

“This Earth Month, Visa is using the power of our network to accelerate transformation in sustainability and economic recovery, while helping ensure that the planet and economies around the world thrive,” Visa’s chief sustainability officer Douglas Sabo said.

“By prioritising clean energy and sustainable practices, investing in environmentally innovative initiatives and engaging with corporate and civil society leaders on climate, we are committed to being a part of the global solution to climate change.”

Whitbread 

Whitbread claims it is the first large UK hotelier to target net-zero by 2040. The new target, announced today, marks a shift forward from an original 2050 deadline for the Premier Inn owner. 

According to a press statement, the business' main focus areas for meeting the target are reducing gas use; maintaining 100% renewable electricity in the UK and reaching this milestone in Germany and decarbonising company cars and distribution vehicles. To this latter point, Whitbread is working with ENGIE UK & Ireland to install 600 chargers over a three-year period. 

WPP

WPP has committed to achieving net-zero operations by 2025 and a net-zero supply chain by 2030.

The firm, which is the world’s largest buyer of advertising space, has already begun measuring its baseline emissions and consolidating carbon calculations. This process has proven that Scope 3 (indirect) emissions account for the bulk of the company’s footprint.

“Two-thirds of our top clients have committed to set their own science-based reduction targets and we can play an important role in helping them to meet those targets in their operations and across their supply chains,” WPP’s chief executive Mark Read said.

 

“We look forward to working with all our partners – many of whom have already made great strides in this area – to develop standards that will benefit the industry, our clients and our wider communities.”

Sarah George



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