Business software giant SAP has this week provided an update on its wide-ranging sustainability plans, revealing a new goal to make its operations 'carbon neutral' by 2025.
The company said it is currently "well on track" to meet its target to return its carbon emissions to 2000 levels by 2020 and is now ready to set a more ambitious longer term target.
"We are well on track to achieve our current carbon target," said chief sustainability officer Daniel Schmid in a statement. "But we have the ambition to remain a frontrunner and look beyond 2020. By 2025, we will become carbon neutral in SAP's operations. This is the logical next step in SAP's long-term greenhouse gas (GHG) avoidance strategy."
To deliver on the new target the company has pledged to build on existing initiatives, which have seen it purchase 100 per cent renewable power certificates for its facilities and datacentres and boost its energy efficiency through a program to encourage efficient coding of new software applications.
Marcus Wagner, global environmental manager, said the company would continue existing initiatives and programs to drive efficiency and innovation under its "avoid - reduce - compensate," approach.The strategy sees the company avoid emissions where possible, for example through virtual telecommunication, reduce unavoidable emissions through efficiency programmes and e-mobility initiatives, and compensate for any remaining emissions.
"SAP will extend existing compensation models which have proven effective, such as embedded internal carbon pricing models for CO2-free train and air travel," the company said. "Another example is the implementation of carbon neutral fuel cards for company cars."
Underpinning the 'carbon neutral' pledge are investments in 'climate protection projects' such as the Livelihoods Fund, which SAP has pledged to provide €3m for re-forestation and climate-protection projects in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
"We have had positive experiences with this innovative form of offsetting carbon dioxide emission," said Schmid. "The funds finance completely new projects that benefit not only the environment but also the people by fostering the sustainable development of rural communities."
He added that the company had taken steps to ensure the projects deliver on promised carbon savings. "We know there is always a risk of greenwashing," he said. "To avoid this, we have put together a set of key criteria describing the quality standard for the procurement of CO2-offsets such as the Gold Standard that we will apply with great scrutiny when selecting new projects."
The company is also using its new internal strategy to promote the wider benefits of IT infrastructure in delivering global emissions reductions in line with UN goals set out in the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals.
SAP cited research it published just after the COP21 Summit in Paris, which estimated that digital technologies such as video conferencing and smart applications could help save 7.6Gt carbon emissions by 2030 in major industries like utilities, agriculture, and transportation.