The urgent need for a complete transformation of our economies and societies has been exacerbated by COVID-19, and accelerated further by the outcomes of COP26. It’s become clear that looking forward, in order to make the transition to a green and just economy, we all must work together. That means that we now have an exciting opportunity to set the tone for the next decade.

We are at a crossroads in the climate emergency. Our research shows that only 30% of European companies have set a net-zero pledge, and lower still, only 9% of companies are on track to meet their current carbon emissions targets. It’s clear we need to be much bolder if we’re going to achieve net zero and limit global warming to 1.5°C, as agreed in the Paris Accord in 2015.

While some organisations require a fundamental shift in their business model, for others it’s about embedding sustainability into their operations and transforming themselves into a responsible business. Embracing the two defining forces of our age – sustainability and digital – to drive sustainability, enabled by technology and powered by people – will allow businesses to gain a competitive advantage whilst delivering a better, greener world for all.

"We’re helping our clients and our partners understand their impact, unlock hidden value, and drive sustainable outcomes."

— LAUREN ING, Managing Director, Sustainability Strategy Practice Lead, Accenture, U.K. and Ireland

Following COP26, the Glasgow Climate Pact will require all businesses to better understand their impact throughout their entire value chain, and be more transparent about it. We’re helping our clients and our partners understand their impact, unlock hidden value, and drive sustainable outcomes.

— Lauren Ing, Managing Director, Sustainability Strategy Practice Lead, Accenture, U.K. and Ireland

1. Our people

Our environmental sustainability strategy focuses on three areas:

  • Engaging all stakeholders—including our people, leaders, partners and suppliers—to lessen their environmental footprint
  • Reducing our environmental impact through our own operations across impacts such as carbon emissions, waste generation, and water use
  • Driving towards net zero and nature positivity with our clients and suppliers

Our people have a key role at every stage.

This is part of our 360° value approach, which encourages everyone across the business to be leaders in stewardship of the social and environmental impact of their work. We want to embed consideration of social and environmental impacts into all our innovations, proposals and projects–as well as the core processes that underpin them. We’ll do this by equipping all our people with the skills to assess and prioritise the long-term consequences of our work.

Expanding our carbon literacy with Green Skills

A meaningful response to climate change requires a transformation of how we live and work. And understanding the complex science behind this issue can help us get there. When it comes to achieving our sustainability goals, we know that guidance is often needed to translate passion into action. So we created a carbon and climate literacy programme to guide our people on their personal journey towards more sustainable living. The initiative complements our Sustainability Quotient training, which enables our people to deliver on Accenture’s Sustainable Value Promise by helping clients find solutions that are optimal for communities and the environment, as well as making sound business sense. We want to empower all our people to improve their knowledge around these vital topics, while underlining our commitments as a business.

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Eco Innovation Challenge

We’re innovating for a sustainable, nature-positive future. Reimagine, Rewild was one of seven winning ideas in Accenture’s Eco Innovation Challenge 2021, aiming to accelerate the rewilding of land through an augmented reality mobile app. We created a three-part series to tell the story of the team’s journey, and to promote the benefits of biodiversity.

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2. Our clients

Sustainability drives value for our clients, while safeguarding the planet.

Our research tells us a circular economy that eliminates waste has the potential to unlock 4.5 trillion dollars in value by 2030.

In 2021, we conducted the world’s largest CEO research study on sustainability in collaboration with the United Nations Global Compact. Leadership in the Eleventh Hour shares the perspectives of more than 1,200 CEOs across 113 countries and 21 industries on the urgent opportunities and challenges for leaders in the climate crisis. CEOs report that their businesses are already experiencing the damaging impacts of climate change, and they are ready to take bold action.

Through partnerships, practice, research and innovation, we are working hard to increase awareness of sustainability, develop new models of leadership that address the world’s most pressing problems and unleash new waves of growth that are more sustainable and equitable. We have a dedicated team of experts who provide a range of sustainability services. They have worked on more than 350 sustainability projects over the last few years and their thought leadership earned Accenture the Financial Times’ top ranking for sustainability strategy for the past three years.

Our client initiatives include

COP26: Shaping, accelerating non-state action

Seconded two Accenture strategists to UNFCCC’s High-Level Climate Action Champions to help businesses and others deliver net-zero carbon commitments.

Telco vehicle fleet electrification strategy

Developed strategy for European Telco to electrify its large commercial vehicle fleet to meet an ambitious greenhouse gas emissions reduction target.

Carbon neutral road map for auto parts maker

Identified and quantified how to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030—modelling costs and carbon impact of measures including circular design.

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Fighting food waste through digital collaboration

In the UK, 6.7 million tonnes of food goes to waste every year. For The Felix Project, who redistribute surplus food to over 1000 charitable organisations, concentrating their resources in an efficient and cost effective manner has always been a challenge. Together with Avanade and Microsoft, Accenture developed RouteMe, a digital route planner that enables The Felix Project’s network of volunteer drivers to deliver more food where it’s needed most.

Watch the video to learn more about how we’ve provided this vital not-for-profit with a dynamic technological platform on which to grow, supporting them to reach their target of redistributing over 100 million meals by 2024.

3. Supporting biodiversity

We understand that climate change cannot be tackled without also addressing nature loss.

Although our direct impact on nature—beyond greenhouse gas emissions—is low, due to our footprint being largely leased office space in urban areas, we are committed to doing our part to build a nature positive world with our clients, suppliers, and through our nature-based carbon removal and biodiversity projects. We are identifying programmes, and developing our talent and skills, to create new opportunities for business to work with nature.

We want to drive technology solutions to some of the planet’s biggest challenges, majoring on decarbonisation and biodiversity in particular, while removing complexity for clients and suppliers.

Get nature positive

To spur progress on biodiversity in the business community, we worked with the Council for Sustainable Business to create the Get Nature Positive Handbook. Written for business by business, it includes case studies and tangible actions that organisations can take to understand their impact on nature, identify opportunities to reduce harm, and seek opportunities to protect, restore and regenerate nature.

In addition, we developed a step-by-step guide to using the Handbook to help businesses get started.

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Counting Puffins

Accenture-owned company Avanade helps create a monitoring system that uses AI to count birds nesting on Scotland’s Isle of May. Watch now.

Scotland’s Young People’s Forest

Innovative reforestation project, supporting young people to be leaders in tackling climate change and biodiversity, through education. Read more.

Trees and Bees

Employee-led initiative to plant a forest in Ireland with the Native Woodland Scheme, the Woodland Environmental Fund, and Bee Green. Watch now.

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4. Our operations

When it comes to our own footprint, we follow the same advice that we give our clients, working closely with our suppliers and investing responsibly to reduce the impact of our operations. For example, Accenture runs 95% of its applications in the cloud and is committed to helping all companies become cloud-first.

We are the largest professional services company to have a goal approved by the Science Based Targets Initiative, including a commitment to reduce our scope 1 and 2 emissions by 65% by 2025 from our 2016 baseline. We’ve adopted 100% renewable energy across our U.K. facilities—and will do so globally by 2023. We’ve set targets for suppliers— in 2019 we surpassed our initial goal, with 77% disclosing their emissions targets, and 82% sharing what action they are taking. Our new goal is for 90% of our suppliers to disclose their targets by 2025.

Our planet goals

As climate change increasingly affects everyone around the world, this is the time to act. We are committed to leading the rapid, urgent transformation that’s needed.

UNGC business ambition for 1.5° pledge

We’ve joined 400+ companies in pledging to do our part to keep global warming below 1.5° Celsius.

Science-based target

We are the largest professional services company to date to have a target approved by the Science-Based Targets Initiative.

Achieve net-zero emissions by 2025

We’ll focus first on actual reductions in our emissions and will invest in nature-based solutions that will remove carbon from the atmosphere.

Move to zero waste

By 2025, we’ll reuse or recycle all our e-waste and office furniture. We’re committed to eliminating single-use plastics in our locations post-COVID 19.

Plan for water risk

By 2025, we’ll develop plans to reduce the impact of flooding, drought and water scarcity on our business and our people in high-risk areas.

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5. Investing and buying responsibly

We’re investing in a world we want to live in. Accenture’s Pension Plan is investing in companies that perform well in Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues.

We believe that shares in companies that do well on ESG are more likely to outperform financially and remain resilient over the long-term. The Plan’s default funds incorporate an element of sustainable investment based on a new innovative index developed by world-leading index provider MSCI.

Managing supply chains responsibly is a powerful lever to drive better business. By engaging with our suppliers and buying responsibly on a global scale, we influence other businesses and their impact. We work with our suppliers to help them think strategically and responsibly about factors such as environmental sustainability, human rights, inclusion, diversity and social innovation. Accenture is a leader, recognised by CDP, for engaging suppliers to manage carbon emissions and address climate-related issues across supply chains.

100%

of our U.K. operations are powered by renewable energy

30%

reduction in FY20 (from FY19) in U.K. emissions from the fuel and energy powering buildings we own and lease

£948m

of Accenture’s Default Pension Funds are invested incorporating an element of ESG weightings

Accenture plays a pivotal role in sparking change

Sustainable supply networks connect the dots in doing good for our planet and our communities, Global Procurement Sustainability Lead Ben Ngobi says.

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