The final section of this series of articles looks at the significant sustainability issues that major organizations currently face. In addition to the gradually increasing proliferation of regulatory requirements for businesses to reduce their carbon footprint, there are other strong drivers compelling organizations to increase their actions on sustainability.
Not least are the increasing expectations of key organizational stakeholders such as employees (and potential employees), clients, and investors. This pressure is, at last, causing real focus and the beginning of the Sustainable Business Revolution that will be required this decade.
At Capgemini, we are conscious of the need for industry and system level change and consequently our focus goes beyond our internal commitments and extends to a commitment to helping our clients with their sustainability challenges. This was formalized through our target to help our clients save initially 10 million tons of carbon by 2030, with an ambition to go much further.
Internally, Capgemini was one of the first in our sector to set validated science-based carbon reduction targets in line with the need of 2oC climate science (i.e., keeping global temperature increases to no more than 1.5oC above pre-industrial levels). Having delivered these targets, in 2020 the Group set new bolder ambitions including a target to be carbon neutral no later than 2025 and to be net zero by 2030.
By the end of 2020, the Group had set new carbon reductions targets in line with the need of 1.5ooC climate science, which once again had been validated by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) and committed to transitioning to 100% renewable electricity through the RE100 initiative. Our 2025 carbon neutrality commitment will involve the compensation for all operational emissions using removal-based carbon offsets, and our net zero commitment will increase the focus across our value chain with all residual emissions compensated.
Technology – the two-edged sword
As a company where technology is integral to the business services we provide, we are very much aware of the sustainability challenges and opportunities that technology itself raises. Technology is a major consumer of electricity and of precious metals, and its use is responsible for significant carbon emissions (by some estimates more than the pre-COVID aviation sector).
Consequently, we have a broad focus on the understanding and reducing these impacts through of ways of working. For example, in our Infrastructure Services business, the migration of services to the cloud and the virtualization of servers bring the potential of significant carbon savings, and the latest version of our Integrated Architecture Framework (IAF) includes sustainability considerations at the heart of the methodology.
Whilst the impact of technology is large, it also brings many environmental opportunities. Many of these benefits in terms of remote collaboration and virtual working have been highlighted in this past year with COVID-19 lockdowns impacting a significant proportion of the planet. With these new working patterns, significant carbon savings have been realized in terms of reduced travel. Indeed, estimates by Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) suggest that by 2030, IT has the potential to cut 9.7 times as many carbon emissions as it produces. This could save around 20% of global carbon emissions by the end of the decade.
At Capgemini, we are looking to deliver these benefits wherever possible both within our own organization and with our clients. In fact, sustainability is at the very heart of the Group, and is captured in our purpose statement that was developed in collaboration with our many stakeholders and with our people at the heart of the process.
Our purpose is to “build an inclusive and sustainable future for all, enabled by technology, drawing on the energy of its talents and also the talents of its customers and partners.” Sustainability is a challenge that goes beyond any single organization, but through collaboration with clients and across sectors, we are working towards that sustainable future.