It has been almost a year since Capgemini announced our new ambitious sustainability targets to achieve carbon neutrality across our operations no later than 2025, and to become a net zero business by 2030. And what a year it has been. While the COVID lockdowns around the world disrupted people’s lives and the broader global economy, they also accelerated, for many, new and more sustainable ways of working. It seems an appropriate moment to assess our progress towards net zero and look at how we are starting to adapt to what a post-COVID new normal might look like – one that embraces sustainability as a core pillar of our day-to-day working lives.
Let me start by reflecting that the sustainable transformation of our organization at the scale and pace we have targeted is ambitious and will materially impact every aspect of the way we operate. A transformation such as this requires radical change in everything from procurement and IT operations to people policies and business models. As I’m sure any of my peers will attest, it is a significant undertaking.
At the center of our sustainable revolution is leadership, authenticity, and transparency
Achieving this radical transformation, requires leadership from the top of the organization, and at Capgemini our Group CEO Aiman Ezzat has publicly stated: “I have put acting on climate change at the heart of our Group priorities with a focal point of our ambitious target of net zero by 2030.” This leadership direction is enabling the unlocking of the Group’s entrepreneurial spirit and provides the mandate at every level to transform.
Having this genuine commitment from the top enables us to focus on authentic and meaningful change. I have been outspoken about some of the “greenwashing” that we have seen over the past year, with companies making carbon-neutral or net zero claims but without disclosing any information about the scope of emissions they are including or their chosen type of offsettings.
This cannot be the way forward – given the scale of the climate emergency, we need both a commitment to bold ambition and complete transparency. That’s why, along with the publication of our new sustainability ambitions last year, we have endeavored to be fully transparent about the scope of our focus.
How we are accelerating our net zero transformation
So, as we enter the twelfth month on our journey, we have now established at the heart of our net zero transformation our ten-stream sustainability transformation roadmap that will enable us to achieve our sustainability ambitions.
The program started with establishing executive governance, and last summer we created our net zero board including both our CEO and CFO as well as other Group Executive Board members. This was complimented with our net zero cross-functional committee, bringing together executives at the operational level. These two groups, supported by a dedicated team from our Invent consulting business, enabled us to rapidly accelerate our sustainability actions.
Last autumn, we had our new carbon reduction targets validated by the Science Based Target initiative (SBTi) as being in line with 1.5oC climate science. We also committed to switching to 100% renewable electricity by 2025 joining RE100, the global corporate renewable energy initiative.
The next major step was to cascade our global targets down to country and function level, and to build detailed action roadmaps that take into account regional specificities, business models, and opportunities. Starting with our largest geographies, roadmaps covering over 70% of the Group by headcount were completed by the end of 2020, with the remainder of countries subsequently addressed. Central to this process has been our environmental management team, responsible for our globally ISO14001 certified Environmental Management System.
Accelerating our approach through partnerships and collaborations
While much can be achieved internally, to really achieve the scale and scope of transformation required for a net zero world, we recognize the criticality for collaboration – with clients, partners, NGOs, and suppliers. Since joining the Race to Zero campaign as a founder member last summer, we have also joined the World Economic Forum (WEF) 1 trillion trees campaign to conserve, restore, and grow one trillion trees around the world, and our CEO joined the World Economic Forum’s Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders, a global community of Chief Executive Officers who catalyze action across sectors and engage policymakers to help deliver the transition to a net zero economy.
We are also mobilizing with our clients and our people. Our people are critical to our net zero transition, and to bring over 270,000 own our journey we have accelerated our sustainability learning pathways and this year have launched a new tool for the calculating carbon impacts of our client engagements. Understanding the climate science and the carbon impacts at the client engagement level will be crucial for both delivering our targets, and in supporting our clients with their sustainability challenges.
Driving change in our core impact areas
With supply chain emissions, our global procurement team has started the not-insignificant task of calculating our initial baseline measure of our supply chain carbon emissions. This is the first important step in delivering our science-based supply chain target of halving the absolute emissions of our supply chain by 2030.
Operationally, we are making significant progress on energy transition to 100% renewable electricity. By the end of 2020, Capgemini’s operations* in Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland were fully running on renewable electricity. In parallel, the integration of the real estate portfolio from our acquisition of the Altran organization commenced with Altran sites being added into our renewable electricity transition program.
Work has also commenced to double the onsite renewable energy generating capacity at our Indian campuses is also in progress, and already we have installed another 8,400 solar panels this year bringing online an additional 3.1 MW of generation capacity. Our global real estate team has also developed one of the first GreenLease frameworks in our sector, which sets out the selection criteria for new sites and which will have significant impact on the future sustainability of our portfolio. The criteria, which will be applied when choosing buildings as well as renewing leases, includes renewable energy, energy efficiency and monitoring, sustainability accreditation, electric vehicle charging points, and proximity to public transport. This program has recently been recognized through the Green Lease Leader program.
The last year has also seen a complete overhaul in the conception of business travel. With the COVID lockdowns, Capgemini pivoted almost overnight to near universal working from home while continuing to deliver to our clients. This remarkable transformation was in part supported by our pre-pandemic focus on reducing travel carbon emissions through empowering our people with the collaboration tools to work flexibly. This flexibility will continue to underpin our future delivery models enabling the continued dual focus on delivery excellence and reduced carbon impacts from travel.
We have also launched a new global travel policy, which ensures that carbon considerations are front of mind when making daily travel choices and have commenced the transition of our company fleet to 100% electric vehicles (EVs) by 2030. Finally, we recognize that commuting is also a material component of our environmental impacts and have recently conducted our largest-ever employee travel behaviors survey to understand our people’s current and pre-COVD commuting behaviors. The analysis, currently underway, will be crucial as we implement plans to reach our 2030 target to reduce by 50% the impact per employee of commuting.
Continuing our net zero journey
While our primary focus must be on reducing our carbon emissions, we recognize that there will always be a proportion of our carbon footprint that cannot be eliminated. To compensate for these residual emissions, we are currently finalizing carbon-offsetting approach (with our focus being on nature-based removal projects). We’ll share more about this soon.
Overall, it’s been a busy 11 months, but given the scale of the challenge required to limit global warming to 1.5oC degrees above pre-industrial levels, there is still much to do. As we look forward five months to the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, we remain committed to extending our own sustainability focus whilst collaborating with our clients, partners, and suppliers to support theirs.
* excluding some sites from the Altran organization acquired in April 2020.