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Towards net zero

zero emission
17 th Feb, 2021 Helen Sheldon - Senior Medical Writer & AS&K Climate Committee Member

The pandemic has meant that we, as a company, haven’t flown anywhere for a year. The result has been a substantial reduction of our carbon footprint, one that we hope to use as a “kick start” to keep further reducing our carbon impact post-pandemic.  

Pre-COVID, we had set AS&K the target of becoming a net zero agency by 2025. We aimed to do this by substantially reducing our carbon footprint, alongside meaningful offsetting. To help us work towards this goal, the AS&K Climate Committee commissioned Orbis to assess our emissions for 2019 so that we could make targeted improvements over the coming years. Orbis assessed us for three material emission categories:  

  • Scope 1, which includes fuel combustion and emissions  

  • Scope 2, which includes purchased electricity and heat   

  • Scope 3, which includes purchased goods and services, business travel, and employee commuting (amongst others) 

A couple of weeks ago Orbis presented their findings to us. It was no surprise that the biggest contributor towards our carbon footprint fell under Scope 3 – flights. Collectively, we flew 1.8 million kilometres in 2019, causing most of our 400 tonnes of GHG emissions.  

Now that we’ve identified what’s contributing to our carbon footprint, it’s time to create the strategy to reduce them. Our strategy will be based on the Science-Based Targets framework, and we’re not going to go easy on ourselves.  

First and foremost, we will need to reduce the number of flights we take. We’ll continue to meet clients using video conferencing, we’ll consider taking the train for trips in Europe, and we’ll expand our international offices. And, when flights really are needed, we’ll be smart about the way we fly and the airlines we choose.  

However, flights aren’t the only concern; employee commuting was the second biggest contributor to our carbon footprint. We already offer a salary sacrifice scheme for employees to buy electric cars and bicycles, but we’re going to take this further – we’re switching to a more flexible working from home policy to reduce commuting. And the benefits of this will be broader than reducing our Scope 3 emissions – home working means improved employee wellbeing. 

Let’s not forget the progress that can be made to our Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions too. We switched to a 100% renewable energy source to power our London office several years ago, and there’s a whole host of small changes we can make to help us work towards our carbon footprint reduction goal.  

We’re truly committed to reducing the environmental impact of AS&K, and we find it important to work with clients and suppliers who share this commitment. With so much change taking place in the world today, we hope that the medical communication and education community will embrace the opportunities to reduce our environmental impact and continue to create a better world for future generations.  

 

Helen Sheldon 

Senior Medical Writer & AS&K Climate Committee Member 

Manchester, February 2021 

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