Dublin, 12 June 2019: Almost 50 leading companies, which have signed up to halve their direct carbon footprint between now and 2030, have engaged positively with the challenge and already secured significant emissions reductions of harmful greenhouse gases. This is according to PwC’s report on the Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI) Low Carbon Pledge ‘Business Working Together for a Low Carbon Ireland’ published today.

BITCI encouraged 47 companies to make the Low Carbon Pledge last year to act as a starting point in which companies can measure their efforts annually at cutting their carbon footprint and collectively make a public statement on their commitment to addressing climate change.

BITCI, WBCSD’s Global Network partner in Ireland, commissioned PwC to produce the inaugural Low Carbon Pledge report which sets out a clear baseline from which to chart future progress on the decarbonization pathway utilizing information provided by the pledge companies.

Signatory companies have committed to reducing their *Scope 1 and Scope 2 carbon intensity by 50% by 2030 and to report on their progress on an annual basis.  The PwC report states that pledge companies are making significant progress towards achieving the target decrease in carbon *intensity by 2030. The average emissions intensity reductions across the pledge companies was 36%.

Because of this initial significant intensity reductions over the baseline period to 2018, BITCI will focus on upping the scope and ambition of the 2030 greenhouse gas reduction targets. A critical challenge for companies will be sustaining such reduction efforts and focus on delivering further intensity improvements up to the 50% target and out to 2030 or an earlier date.

In addition, 66% of Pledge companies reduced their electricity usage.

The report stresses that the recording and reporting of emissions data ‘represents a critical first step in businesses’ engagement with, and commitment to, reducing their carbon impact. PwC notes that the Irish market is still quite immature in the area of sustainability assurance but that awareness is growing.  For example, 34% of companies received no form of external assurance or validation of their carbon data either in the form of 3rd party assurance, an external accreditation such as ISO, or an assurance opinion from a 3rd party assurance provider.

The pledge companies were drawn from traditionally carbon-intensive sectors such as agriculture/agribusiness and energy/utilities but also includes pharma, beverages, transport, communications, retailing, technology and professional services. The breadth of involvement across business and industry illustrates BITCI’s commitment to ensuring that there is cross-sectoral support in battling greenhouse gas emissions.

Minister for Communications, Climate Action & Environment, Richard Bruton T.D welcomed today’s report and commented, “Leadership from enterprise is crucial, if we are to achieve the step change that is needed to tackle the climate challenge. Businesses can drive this change, both directly in how they manage their buildings, arrange their transport, and choose their energy source but also indirectly as ambassadors influencing their clients and supply chain. The opportunities and rewards are greatest for those who move early and lead the way forward.”

The report includes four case studies highlighting the actions that companies have taken to reduce their carbon emissions and in doing so improving the efficiency of their operations The companies – Gas Networks Ireland, Dawn Meats, ESB and HEINEKEN Ireland– outline their key actions in emissions reductions.

Welcoming the report, Business in the Community Ireland CEO, Tomás Sercovich, said: “Climate change is a reality and not a future-looking risk to be mitigated. Now that we have the data and concrete evidence, we have a strong mandate to mobilize more companies to make the pledge and raise their ambition towards decarbonization. Investing in low carbon initiatives and engaging broadly in dialogue with policy makers, suppliers, employees and local communities will be critical to enable this transition to be successful.”

Kim McClenaghan, Partner, PwC’s Energy & Sustainability practice and co-author of the report, said: “The analysis of the submitted data has yielded rich insights into how particular sectors are performing and the case studies presented give clear examples of the actions needed to reduce corporate carbon intensity.  In particular, it will be important to grow the number of initial pledge companies beyond 47 and extend the scope of the carbon commitment over time.  3rd party carbon data assurance is an area requiring attention and companies could enhance emission reductions through procuring green certified renewable electricity. Finally, strong leadership is critical to help businesses prepare for a carbon-constrained world and to ensure that business strategies are aligned with an increasingly carbon-conscious investor, shareholder, consumer and employee.”

This first report comes against mounting evidence of a rapidly closing window on tackling global warming and where Ireland is facing penalties of up to €150m next year from failing to meet its 2020 targets agreed by the EU. Last week (June 6th) the Environmental Protection Agency warned that Ireland faced falling far short of its climate reduction targets for next year and 2030. Over and above the significant financial penalties that Ireland could face, the latest IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) Report has shed light on the huge environmental losses the planet faces if we do not cut carbon emissions in line with a 1.5C temp increase and also estimates we have just 11 years to tackle these challenges.

Download a copy of the Low Carbon Pledge report.

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