Why is your company striving to be ‘100% renewable’?
“As one of the world’s largest advertising and media groups, we want to lead our industry towards a low carbon economy, especially in light of the globally agreed carbon reduction targets at COP21 in December 2015.
“As a business, we doubled in size since 2010, but we reduced our carbon footprint per person by 20%. It is important we de-couple carbon from growth to achieve long term savings on our operations and become resilient to resource scarcity and price fluctuations.”
How did you decide on your 100% goal?
“Having achieved our 2010-2015 target to reduce our carbon footprint by 20%, we developed a new CSR strategy called “Future Proof 2020” to set us on the road to 2020. To develop our environmental vision we used science-based targets to inform our road map.
“We quickly realized that, in order to reach the required 40% carbon footprint reduction to help keep the global rise in temperature on or under 2C, a switch towards 100% renewable electricity would be essential. Developing these goals and the accompanying road map was the result of collaboration between CSR and the Finance teams. I lead on this work stream.”
What progress have you made towards your 100% goal so far?
“We are at the start of our green energy journey but our annual environmental reporting tells me that around 11% of our electricity consumption in 2015 came from renewable energy.
“We are investing in renewable tariffs and I’m pleased to announce that from January 2016 all our offices in Germany are powered by 100% renewable electricity.
“In addition, we are moving into greener buildings where we can – for instance, in 2015, we opened our headquarters in Shanghai, which has solar cells to generate up to 15% of its own energy.”
What challenges and opportunities are you encountering?
“The road to a low carbon economy is not without challenges. We have wholly-owned operations in 65 countries and in some places renewable energy is not yet available. In other places the price premium is prohibitive but I am confident that over the next five years conventional and renewable electricity prices will reach parity.
“As a professional services company we have a policy of leasing our office locations, so longer term our biggest obstacle will be individual leasing arrangements, such as multi-occupancy buildings, where we are unable to obtain renewables.”
What are your plans for switching to 100% renewable electricity going forward?
“We built a road map for our 12 largest country operations over the next five years, indicating dates before when each country should have moved over to renewable electricity sources. This will represent approximately 75% of our yearly electricity consumption.
“In addition, we are working with our offices in the smaller 53 countries to switch where we can to complete our journey to 2020.”
Why do you think it is important for companies to play a role in accelerating demand for renewable electricity?
“Research by RE100 shows that if all businesses became 100% powered by renewable electricity, they could save up to 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The journey to this point will drive innovation up and prices down, benefiting both retail and wholesale consumers.”
Why do you think RE100 is a good initiative to join?
“Joining RE100 gives a strong signal of our intent and commitment to be a leader in this space. But ultimately we want everyone to join RE100. That’s because together we can play an important role in pushing renewables higher up the agenda”
How else are you helping to drive forward the transition to a low carbon economy?
“Over the past five years we have invested heavily in two elements that are key to a low carbon economy: achieving behaviour change around the use of energy as well as investing in offices with greener footprints.
“The first one is being achieved through sustained awareness programmes across our business, and the roll-out of digital technology like ‘Please Cycle’ to nudge the right behaviour.
“The second one is a Finance-led initiative to ensure we consolidate our offices and move into greener offices over a five-year cycle. This delivers not just environmental benefits but also business benefits, such as better collaboration and higher rates of internal talent movement.”
Last updated: June 2016