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Our ten-year countdown to net zero has begun

Shobha Meera

2020 was set to kickstart the decade of accelerated global action on climate change.  Then COVID-19 struck. Governments, businesses and civic society turned their entire focus to the health crisis and associated social issues – and rightly so.

The pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns momentarily brought down global carbon emissions as businesses and society ground to a halt.  And the visible effects on the planet caused many to imagine the possibilities of a different future.

But as we look to recovery now, with governments and businesses focusing on re-starting economies, the debate rages: will the investment and action on the pandemic detract from the focus and investment needed to address the climate change crisis that is looming behind?

The time to change our future is now

I am a practical optimist: I believe we still have the choice to avert the crisis, but we must act now – or risk the irreversible climate catastrophe ahead.  At Capgemini, we are seizing the opportunity to act, while we can still make a difference on climate change.  This is why we announced last week a new ambition to be net zero by 2030.

In January 2020, our Executive Committee of which I am a part, declared Action on Climate Change as one of the top four priorities for Capgemini. Even with COVID-19, I am delighted that we have kept our plans on track to create our ten-year net zero strategy.  We are in no doubt that we want to be at the forefront of change to shape a sustainable new world.

Committed to developing and innovating to create new ways of working fit for a net zero world

Our desire to be a net zero business by 2030 is ambitious, requiring us to accelerate our carbon reduction strategy, which will be underpinned by a new set of science-based targets in line with keeping global temperature increases to no more than 1.5 °C.  We don’t have all the answers yet, but we know the need to meet our ambition will drive us to new ways of doing business and working with our entire value chain to do so.

Driven by a belief in bold ambitions to drive change – and building on solid foundations

It’s bold ambitions which drive innovation and action. We were one of the first in our sector to have targets validated by the science-based targets initiative over four years ago. I am delighted to announce that we have met our headline target to reduce our overall carbon emissions by 30% per employee – 10 years ahead of schedule, and before the COVID-19 lockdowns began.

We have done this through a continued focus on energy and travel – our two biggest sources of emissions:

  • We reduced our travel emissions by 22% per employee (2019 vs 2015)
  • We reduced our use of energy by 20% (2019 vs 2015)
  • We almost doubled our use of renewable energy in 2019 alone

Our Environmental Sustainability Performance report 2019/20 published last week provides more details about our focus and how we have achieved our targets.

How will we reach our new ambition?

Our first milestone will be becoming carbon neutral no later than 2025.

We will continue to build on solid foundations, but also invest in new programs to meet this ambition. For example:

  • Switching to 100% renewable electricity. We have significant experience in this space across our entities in Europe and India, with Capgemini France moving its entire electricity consumption onto a hydro power contract and I’m proud that our EPIP campus in Bangalore became the first corporate campus in India to receive the Net Zero Energy Platinum Certification last year.
  • Moving our fleet towards electric vehicles and continue investing in our sustainable travel initiatives.
  • Expanding our virtual collaboration initiatives I’ve seen first-hand the impact this can make, for example in Capgemini in the UK, who recorded a 13% reduction in business travel emissions in 2019 alone through a shift in focus from ‘travel’ to how we can better ‘connect’.
  • Investing in high-quality carbon offset projects like re-forestation that remove carbon from the atmosphere for any remaining emissions.

We will be net zero by 2030, expanding our vision to our wider footprint

Our program will also seek to reduce the impact of our value chain, working closely with suppliers to reduce and offset emissions in the products and services we use, resulting in net zero impact.

How we collaborate with clients for shared sustainable goals remains a critical part of our strategy. We set ourselves a goal over two years ago, to help our clients save 10 million tonnes of carbon emissions through  our portfolio of consulting, and technology services and our expertise to support and accelerate their transition towards a low carbon future also. This will become a core part of our approach to delivering the targeted impact.

It’s time to act now

In December last year, at the World Climate Summit, Capgemini Invent CEO & Group Sponsor for CSR, Cyril Garcia made a very pertinent point about the future of business, saying, “…organizations failing to grasp the sustainability agenda will cease to operate in the hard realities of the environment beyond 2030.”  At Capgemini, we have our eyes firmly on a sustainable future!


Shobha Meera