Given the type of services we provide and the sectors we work with, the climate change impacts of our projects far exceeds the impact of our own emissions. Nonetheless, we are doing our part to reduce our own emissions footprint. We work with leading companies to set greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions targets based on science, and we believe it is important for us to take a similarly rigorous approach to reducing our own emissions.
ERM has therefore set ambitious science-based targets to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions as part of a unified private sector response to the global risks of climate change. Validated by the Science Based Targets initiative, this makes us an early adopter among the professional services sector.
ERM has set absolute targets for 2025 to:
- Reduce our GHG emissions from direct emissions (Scope 1) and purchased energy (Scope 2) by 30% (compared to 2014). To achieve this target we will take measures including transitioning to renewable energy in our offices.
- Reduce our indirect emissions in our value chain (Scope 3) by 11% from a 2018 base year. This ambitious target will be achieved by reducing business travel and emissions from employee commuting.
These targets have been validated to be in line with the level of decarbonization required to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2° Celsius above pre-Industrial Revolution levels.
We have adopted an integrated approach to meeting these targets, which involves measures taken by ERM as well as changes in behavior by our employees. A Senior Leadership Team Working Group has been established with senior operational and technical leaders from across the business to provide oversight and guidance on the implementation plan to meet the science-based targets for 2025. The Senior Leadership Working Group reports into the Executive Committee Sustainability Working Group on a regular basis.
In FY20, we increased our Scope 1 emissions (+5%), primarily from company-owned cars (due to changes in methodology for tracking emissions, increased field work and improved accuracy in reporting). At the same time, we significantly reduced our Scope 2 emissions (-38%) by purchasing renewable energy and implementing other energy efficiency measures. Overall, we are ahead of the plan for meeting our 2025 Scope 1 and 2 emissions target.
Given the nature of our growing business, which involves significant travel to project locations, Scope 3 emission reductions are very challenging. We had a very slight decrease (-0.3%) in Scope 3 emissions during FY20. Although business travel as well as commuting dropped dramatically as a result of COVID-19, this had a relatively small impact on our FY20 data (which covers our fiscal year ending 31 March 2020). Overall, we are on track for meeting our 2025 Scope 3 emissions target.
The following measures adopted in FY20 contributed to our overall reduction in emissions and progress towards meeting our Science-based Targets:
- Integrating energy-saving mechanisms into each Business Unit’s Sustainability Action Plan.
- Implementing new global policies on business travel and facilities. The facilities policy includes direction on where we should look to locate our offices in the future to make it easier for employees to use public transport, cycle or walk to work. Changes in office location will take time to implement, given considerations such as long-term leases. As we projected when we set our Scope 3 targets, our emissions may increase in the short term as our company grows and the transport sector carries a high emissions profile, but will decrease in later years as our mitigation measures go into effect and more efficient transport options become available.
- Transitioning to renewable energy in offices as it becomes available in different locations, with 38% of our office energy use supplied by renewable energy through Renewable Energy Credits. This is a primary driver of the decrease in our Scope 2 emissions during FY20. We expect to see additional emissions reductions over time.
The Senior Leadership Team Working Group has been evaluating mechanisms to drive performance and determine if ERM can move towards a net zero carbon emissions target in a meaningful way. We have identified priority areas where we can have the greatest impact.