Walking the Talk
As Coca-Cola, IBM Kick CO2 to the Curb, UK Private Sector Lags Behind

While tech heavy-hitter IBM and beverage giant Coca-Cola rev up efforts to kick climate change to the curb, the UK private sector continues to lag behind in cutting CO2 emissions.

IBM has ticked two major to-dos off of its sustainability checklist. Set in February 2015 and assigned by the American Business Act on Climate Change Pledge, the company exceeded both commitments four years ahead of schedule.

The first goal was to reduce energy consumption related CO2 emissions 35 percent by 2020 against a base year of 2005. IBM reached a reduction of 38.1 percent at the end of 2016, the emissions equivalent of 1.8 million barrels of oil.

IBM also exceeded its goal to use renewable energy for 20 percent of its annual electricity consumption by 2020 by 1.5 percent at the end of 2016. If renewable electricity within the grid mix IBM receives is considered, the company sourced 40.1 percent of the company’s electricity supply from renewable sources.

“IBM has been one of industry’s earliest and unambiguous leaders regarding climate change, having publicly launched our first specific CO2 emissions reduction goal in 2000 and having published a formal position in 2007,” said Wayne Balta, President of Corporate Environmental Affairs and Product Safety at IBM. “We know that businesses must play a leadership role in the fight against climate change and we continue to lead by reducing our own operational impact and by developing innovative solutions to help our clients do the same.”

Between 1990 and 2016, IBM has conserved 7.2 MWh of electricity, avoiding 4.4 million metrics tons of CO2 emissions and saving over $600 million — the equivalent of taking 900,000 cars off the road for a year.

In February 2017, IBM and VELCO announced the creation of Utopus Insights, Inc., a new energy analytics company that provides open source application programming interfaces for improved energy forecasting on the grid. New insights from situational forecasting and cognitive technologies provide a more accurate understanding of the amount of power available from renewable sources, reducing risks and costs associated with the electricity grid and enabling the widespread use of renewable energy.

A month later, IBM won its fifth Climate Leadership Award from the EPA, the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions and The Climate Registry, becoming the first company to earn the award in each of the award program’s four organizational categories of competition.

Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) has also undertaken significant measures to achieve its climate goals. The bottling company recently made a £39 million investment that will be used to build an automated storage and retrieval system warehouse at its Sidcup factory. With the new warehouse, CCEP is well poised to cut 3,867 tons of CO2 a year from its operations.

According to Trevor Stacey, CCEP’s Sidcup Operations Director, the new automated storage and retrieval system warehouse is a significant investment in sustainable manufacturing for the organization. Expected to be fully operational by 2018, the warehouse will help CCEP work towards its ultimate goal of reducing its carbon footprint by one-third by 2020.

“This initiative and our wider investment in automation technology will be an important step in both helping to future-proof the sector and driving forward our sustainability journey by achieving significant CO2 savings,” said CCEP GB VP and General Manager Leedert den Hollander.

Once finished, the warehouse will triple the site’s storage capacity, allowing it to hold and automatically move 25,000 pallets and deliver products to customers directly.


Meanwhile, a new study by Philips Lighting has revealed that large public and private organizations across the UK aren’t doing enough to reduce their CO2 emissions.

The company’s analysis of the most recent data published by the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme showed that participating organizations emitted over 41 million metric tons of carbon dioxide during the 2015–2016 period. This equates to the GHG emissions of 8.7 million passenger vehicles driven for a year or the CO2 emissions from the electricity usage of six million homes for a year.

According to the report, only a third of these organizations said that they disclose carbon emission reduction targets in their annual reporting, with 15 percent saying they don’t and over half refusing to disclose whether they do or not.

Similarly, only 29 percent of organizations disclose their performance against carbon emission reduction targets, with 16 percent not disclosing their performance and 55 percent not confirming whether they do or not.

Less than half of the organizations reporting to the scheme (45 percent) say they actively engage employees to reduce carbon emissions at work.

The CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme is a mandatory carbon emissions reporting and pricing scheme that covers large public and private sector organizations in the UK that use more than 6,000 MWh of electricity per year and have at least one half-hourly meter settled on the half-hourly electricity market. The sectors targeted by the scheme generate over 10 percent of UK CO2 emissions.

Philips Lighting’s analysis also demonstrated that private sector companies reporting to the scheme averaged 22,929 metric tons of CO2 emissions last year. To absorb this level of CO2 4,586 hectares of forest would be required — the equivalent of 6,423 soccer fields.

The 496 public bodies reporting to the scheme averaged only 13 percent less, emitting 19,839 tons of CO2 during the year.

“The CRC scheme was designed to reduce the emissions of those organizations with the largest carbon footprints in the UK, but our analysis suggests that the country’s largest public and private sector bodies still have a long way to go,” said Nicola Kimm, Head of Sustainability, Environment, Health & Safety at Philips Lighting.

“Making concerted efforts to improve energy efficiency saves organizations money, improves their reputation and contributes to our climate change mitigation targets.”

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