Ernst & Young became the first of the Big Four accounting firms to announce a plan to reach carbon neutrality globally. The firm’s goal is to get there by the end of this year.
To achieve carbon neutrality, Ernst & Young says the firm will focus on reducing travel emissions, following sustainable procurement practices, and increasing renewable energy procurement from sources like wind and solar to power their offices worldwide. In addition, the firm anticipates purchasing carbon credits, and investing in projects such as reforestation that can help address emissions.
Previous steps to reduce the firm’s carbon footprint include designing an environmental strategy that aligns with the United Nations Global Compact, issuing a global environmental statement in FY18 establishing responsibility for minimizing negative effects, worked with hotel suppliers to lower emissions from Ernst & Young employees, and introducing global supplier code of conduct and procurement environmental criteria.
Between FY17 and FY19, Ernst & Young says the firm decreased office energy emissions by more than 11% while continuing to grow its business, resulting in a 25% reduction in energy emissions per full-time employee.
Renewable energy procurement has also been a focus. In the United States, the firm signed a virtual power purchase agreement to finance and construct two large-scale wind farms in Texas to become 100% powered by renewables this year. In the UK, the firm says it’s pursuing a solar agreement for all of its power demand there.
The other Big Four accounting firms — Deloitte, PwC, and KPMG — have presented different sustainability strategies. Deloitte UK set 10-year environmental targets in 2011, and reported reducing carbon emissions by 24% per full-time equivalent (FTE) employee since then. In 2018, PwC UK announced emissions and renewables targets for 2022.
KPMG targeted a 10% carbon footprint per FTE by the end of this year using a 2016 baseline, and reported surpassing that goal in 2015, cutting their carbon footprint by 26% per FTE. “A key strategy is our focus on energy efficiency and alternatives to air travel, which represent over 80% of our carbon footprint,” KPMG noted. The firm also operates its own rooftop solar farm with more than 2,000 panels.
Source: Environment + Energy Leader