Cisco targets net-zero by 2040, Illumina by 2050

Tech giant Cisco has pledged to reach net-zero emissions for operations by 2025 and the supply chain by 2040, while healthcare research and solutions firm Illumina has set a 2050 target.

Cisco’s new targets involve reaching net-zero for Scope 1 (direct) and Scope 2 (power-related) emissions by 2025. The company had previously committed to reducing emissions from these scopes by 60% by 2022, against a 2008 baseline, and is on track to reach this target.

A focus area for cutting operational emissions is sourcing renewable electricity. There is a new ambition to meet 85% of global annual electricity consumption with renewables by 2022. Cisco has already reached 100% renewable electricity in the US and six of its European markets, but faces challenges in nations with less mature renewables sectors, such as India.

Also detailed in Cisco’s net-zero plans are measures for improving energy efficiency and maintaining hybrid working. Hybrid working can reduce emissions from offices and other workplaces, while also cutting transport-related Scope 3 (indirect) emissions.

Cisco’s new goal for Scope 3 emissions – net-zero across the whole value chain by 2040 – builds on an existing pledge to reduce supply-chain-related emissions by 30% by 2030, against a 2019 baseline. The company has stated that it will announce shorter-term interim goals later this year.

“The devastating effects of the climate disasters over the past few weeks could not be a clearer sign of the urgent need to address climate change now,” Cisco’s chief people, policy and purpose officer Fran Katsoudas said.

“As a global technology leader, we must set the standard for sustainable business practices and support our customers, partners, and suppliers in their efforts to reduce their impact on the environment as well.”

The net-zero targets come after Cisco’s philanthropic arm, the Cisco Foundation, pledged to allocate $100m to climate solutions by the end of the decade. The key funding priority is carbon removal solutions, with the Foundation stating that it will invest in a mix of nature-based solutions and man-made technologies.


Also announcing a net-zero target this week is Illumina, a US-based company focused on DNA sequencing and array research and technologies.

The firm has set a 2050 target for all scopes and has submitted an interim target – reducing emissions across all scopes by 46% by 2030 – to the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) for verification. It has also outlined plans to use offsetting to reach carbon neutrality for operations by 2023.

These commitments have been made as Illumina joined the UN’s Race to Zero campaign through the Business Ambition for 1.5C initiative.

“Climate change represents a threat to human health, the environment and the global economy,” Illumina’s chief financial officer Sam Samad said.

“Setting ambitious emission reduction targets are an important part of our overall business strategy to minimise risk associated with climate change, identify opportunities, build resilience on potential climate impact and be transparent with all our stakeholders on our progress.”

Diageo 2030

In related news, beverage giant Diageo has confirmed SBTi verification for its plans to reach net-zero operational emissions and to halve Scope 3 emissions by 2030.

The targets were first published last November as part of an updated ten-year strategy for the business, which owns brands including Smirnoff and Guinness. The SBTi has verified the targets in line with 1.5C. Notably, the Initiative is in the process of making 1.5C the minimum target-setting requirement, phasing out ‘well below 2C’ targets.

Diageo’s  global sustainability director Dr Kirstie McIntyre said: “We are passionate about protecting the future of the planet. This demonstrates that our carbon targets are going much further than the required minimum in this critical decade of action to 2030.”


60-minute masterclass: Tackling your Scope 3 emissions on the road to net-zero

edie readers interested in learning how to reduce their organisation's emissions in line with climate science are encouraged to register for our next free Masterclass webinar on Thursday 23 September. 

Hosted in association with Carbon Intelligence, this session will help you get to grips with Scope 3 emissions – from gathering and analysing your Scope 3 data, to engaging key stakeholders and suppliers in ways that support net-zero carbon commitments.

Click here for a full agenda and to register. 


Sarah George



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