EY commits to being carbon neutral by end of 2020

03 February 2020 Consulting.ca 3 min. read
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Accounting and consulting firm EY has announced plans to go carbon neutral globally by the end of 2020.

The announcement makes EY the first Big Four firm to announce plans to go carbon neutral globally. The firm will achieve the target through a reduction in travel emissions, sustainable procurement practices, purchasing more renewable energy to power its offices, and purchasing carbon credits to offset its remaining carbon footprint.

The last measure is a big one, because travelling – especially by air – is a key part of consulting work. And though efforts towards teleconferencing and remote work may be a big part of the “future of work,” consultants are still expected to travel to client sites in the here and now. Though you can switch over a company car fleet to electric vehicles and buy your office’s power from solar and wind farms, your consultants can’t jet-set around the world on electric planes. So carbon credits are integral to any carbon neutrality initiative in the consulting sector.

Other consulting firms have laid out their carbon neutrality strategies in the past. McKinsey went carbon neutral in 2018, reducing its emissions per capita by 11% and sourcing 87% of its electricity from renewable sources. “To offset the emissions we have not yet been able to eliminate, we invest in carbon-reduction projects independently verified to international standards,” the firm’s site states.

EY commits to being carbon neutral by end of 2020

BearingPoint, meanwhile, committed to offsetting all of its consultant travel through a carbon offsetting project involving the reforestation of the Amazon rainforest.

“Protecting the planet for future generations is an important issue for EY people and becoming carbon neutral this year is a real step forward on the EY sustainability journey,” Carmine Di Sibio, EY Global chairman and CEO, said. “As an organization that spans more than 150 countries, with varying views and ambitions on climate change, we recognize this is no easy feat.

“However, with over 284,000 EY people who are dedicated to our purpose of building a better working world, EY has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take immediate action to create sustainable, inclusive growth for generations to come.”

EY’s global commitment builds on previous sustainability efforts. Between FY 2017 – FY 2019, the firm decreased office energy emissions by over 11% while growing its operations, resulting in a 25% reduction in energy emissions per full-time employee. The company also introduced a global supplier code of conduct and procurement environmental criteria to improve the sustainability of products and services.

EY’s climate change and sustainability practice, meanwhile, has been helping clients drive decarbonization and sustainability throughout their operations and supply chains for the past 15 years.

Steve Varley, EY Global vice chair, said, “EY has the potential to become a world leader in sustainable business and becoming carbon neutral is an important step toward making that a reality. By supporting a culture of disruptive innovation, EY can find creative solutions that address global environmental challenges and drive growth that is truly sustainable.”

The Big Four network’s country member firms have also been driving their own sustainability efforts. EY UK is in talks to source all its energy from solar farms, EY in India has planted more than 1,000,000 trees since 2010, and a number of countries have already become carbon neutral, including EY in Costa Rica.