We're tackling global warming with science-based targets

The world is on the precipice of a climate disaster. The scientific community is united in the belief that if global temperatures rise more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels, climate change will be irreversible. Yet NASA has found temperatures are already up 1.18°C, with much of the rise happening in the last 40 years.

While the situation is dire, we can act. It’s in our power to avoid a climate catastrophe. We have the technological know-how to save billions of lives, preserve our planet for generations to come and unlock transformational business value.

To focus our own actions, we’ve signed up to the Science Based Targets Initiative, making a commitment to use scientific evidence as the basis for goals that will see our firm help limit global warming to 1.5°C.

Sustainability: an ever-present pillar of our purpose

Reaching our sustainability ambitions is vital to building a positive human future. It’s also an enormous business opportunity, with the UN estimating that achieving its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 will add $12 trillion to the global economy. We’ve understood this necessity and opportunity for decades, and have been unlocking ingenuity to drive sustainability with our clients and communities for the last 40 years.

Supporting organisations to be more sustainable

For example, in 1981, we commissioned Richard Rogers, the architect behind the Lloyds Bank building in London, The Centre Pompidou in Paris and our own Global Innovation and Technology Centre in Cambridge, to team up with our engineers to design an autonomous, self-sufficient and non-polluting home. It maximised natural energy resources by opening and closing like a flower in response to the day and night cycle and turning towards the sun. And it recycled waste to ensure it could exist anywhere, free from costly service support infrastructure. We also minimised energy consumption during manufacturing and assembly.

In recent years, we’ve helped limit greenhouse gas emissions by:

  • Stopping more than 35,000 tonnes of CO₂ entering London’s air every year by developing the business case for RE:FIT, the programme set up by the Mayor of London to help cut carbon emissions in the UK capital.
  • Reducing nearly 100,000 tons of CO₂ emissions generated by a leading nuclear operator by using digital-twin technology to create an operational excellence machine.
  • Transforming Denmark’s largest energy producer, Ørsted, to enable it to achieve its commitment to generate 99 per cent of its energy from renewable resources by 2025.
  • Providing detailed market and on-the-ground analysis to AMP Capital, a global investment manager, to accelerate electric bus deployment in Latin America.

And we don’t just work on cutting carbon emissions. From material science and manufacturing process development to improving agriculture and designing circular business models, we develop and scale innovative technologies to answer diverse sustainability challenges. For example, we’ve:

  • Worked with start-up Notpla to develop a biodegradable, edible drink container made from seaweed.
  • Commercialised the IP for PulPac, a company that uses dry-molded fiber technology to turn paper pulp into rigid structures that can replace single-use plastic for the same or lower cost and 80-90 per cent less CO₂.
  • Collaborated with the University of Cambridge to use machine learning to help farmers produce higher yield, better quality crops for lower cost.
  • Created the backend systems that enabled Stuffstr, an innovative platform business start-up that collects, recycles, refurbishes and resells used clothing on behalf of brands, to grow.

Shaping the future of sustainability

Our commitment extends beyond our day-to-day client work. We’re investing our time in forging powerful partnerships, such as with the UN and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, and creating the thought leadership that sets us apart and demonstrates our expertise. For instance, we’ve:

Inspiring the next generation to make a difference

Essential to future sustainability will be the next generation of leaders and innovators – it’s important we nurture their optimism to encourage the world-changing ideas that will create a positive human future.

To that end, our annual Springboard work experience programme, which gives disadvantaged students in the UK and US an opportunity to develop valuable skills, focuses on the UN SDGs. The aim is to nurture students’ team-working and leadership skills while showing them they have the ingenuity to solve some of the world’s toughest sustainability challenges.

We also run our annual Raspberry Pi Competition to promote STEM education by challenging schoolchildren to invent systems that could benefit society. In recent years, we've challenged teams to design the sustainable city of the future, inspiring them to consider how they can help create a more sustainable world.

Building a sustainable future

Our commitment to helping limit global warming to 1.5°C through science-based targets will ensure we’re doing everything we can to leave behind a world in which our children can thrive. At the same time, it will unlock growth opportunities, for our clients as well as our firm. With these global ambitions, we’re on track to deliver sustainable impact at scale.

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