'We're up for it': Sky exploring its role in net-zero future

Sky's chief executive Jeremy Darroch has claimed that the company is "figuring out" how it can help push the UK to net-zero emissions before the 2050 deadline.

Darroch was speaking at a WWF Where the World Turns event to discuss the role of business in combatting climate change

Darroch was speaking at a WWF Where the World Turns event to discuss the role of business in combatting climate change

Sky's chief executive revealed that the company is exploring the role it has in helping the UK reach its net-zero target, and could potentially push to reach that ambition ahead of the Government's timeframe.

“Just as business needs to join the cause of tackling climate change; so, the cause of tackling climate change needs business to join. Because business is really good at making big shifts happen fast,” Darroch said at the WWF Where the World Turns event this evening (14 October)

“To deliver net zero we’ll need absolute emission reductions, not just in our own operations but in our customers’ homes too. We’re up for it. 2050 is the UK deadline, but want to get there quicker – we’re figuring out how.”

Darroch is a WWF ambassador and has worked with the organisation on Sky’s successful Rainforest Rescue campaign, and more recently on the Ocean Rescue project, which aims to raise awareness among Sky’s 22 million customers of the dangers of plastic pollution.

He led Sky’s drive to become the world’s first carbon-neutral entertainment company in 2006, and in October 2017 announced that Sky would remove all single-use plastics from its operations, products and supply chain by 2020.

Sky’s new ambition, which is still being formalised, will focus on how the company and its suppliers can help decarbonise domestic products and services too.

At a national level, the UK has set legislation that will implement the recommendations of the Committee on Climate Change, creating a legally binding net-zero carbon target for 2050.

"The reasons Sky is transforming are not unique to us," Darroch added. "We are changing because of things that are true of any business: our customers want it. Our people want it. And it just makes good business sense. Above all, we are changing because for businesses to succeed in the long term they have to recognise that they are not isolated from the environment; we are profoundly connected to it. 

"So, when a business leader is frustrated at the disruption caused by Extinction Rebellion; or they find that extreme weather is making it hard for their business to operate… they shouldn’t only look to government to solve the problem. Business survives and thrives because we are all part of a connected ecosystem. And that means it’s not just the responsibility of other institutions to tackle climate change. It is our responsibility too. Indeed the future of our businesses and more importantly our planet depend upon it."

Sky is the limit

Sky has recorded a 55% reduction in carbon intensity and a 39% reduction in business travel emissions. The company sends 0% of waste generated at the facility it owns to landfill and recycles 100% of food waste from its main offices.

Over the last 12 months, the company has also improved fuel efficiency across its fleet by 15%, meaning that six of the 10 environmental targets listed in its Bigger Picture strategy have been achieved ahead of time.

Sky is replacing the main generators at its Osterley campus in the UK and a new Trigeneration plant in Milan, which will help cut an estimated 2,300 tons of carbon every year. The company is also a member of the London Business Climate Leaders Group, which is aiming to create a net-zero capital in the UK.

Outside of its own operations, Sky is engaging with suppliers to help them invest in renewables through CDP’s Supply Chain Programme.

Manufacturing partner Zinwell, for example, has installed large-scale solar panels at their site in Shenzhen, China to produce 1.4MW of renewable electricity annually – around 50% of the electricity required by Zinwell to make Sky products. Two other suppliers in China, WNC and Picotronics, are also taking action on renewable energy and efficiency through engagement with Sky.

Plastics

Launched in 2017, Sky Ocean Ventures was the first non-strategic investment fund with an aim of protecting the marine environment to be founded by a FTSE 100 firm. Sky committed £25m to start the fund and is targeting a further £75m of external investment by 2020.

The first firm to benefit from the fund was Skipping Rocks lab – a start-up which has developed, produced and scaled-up its range of edible alternatives to plastic packaging, made from seaweed proteins. The firm’s edible sachets, called Oohos, have since received backing from the likes of Lucozade, Selfridges and Just Eat.

Sky’s move to fund such projects builds on the company’s commitment to remove all single-use plastics from its global operations, products and supply chains by 2020 –  an unprecedented pledge within its sector.

The company has also launched partnerships with the likes of the Premier LeagueNational Geographic and Imperial College London to help its plastics actions reach a wider audience.

Matt Mace



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