Working together to achieve seven consecutive years of carbon emission reductions

Seven years ago, at ABB in the UK, we embarked on a journey to formally reduce our carbon emissions by committing to CEMARS (Certified Emissions Measurement and Reduction Scheme), which measures our progress against ISO 14064, the internationally recognised standard for greenhouse gas emissions.

It’s a journey without a final destination, but each year we take a moment to reflect during our annual assessment to verify whether we have successfully reduced our annual carbon emissions.

After a year of upheaval, it’s satisfying to have the confirmation that ABB in the UK has reduced its carbon emissions for the seventh consecutive year, receiving our Carbon Reduce official certification! It is more rewarding to be able to report that we achieved a reduction in absolute emissions of 39% during 2020. Furthermore, we have reduced our emissions intensity (tonnes of carbon emitted per £1 million of turnover) by 17% since 2018.

Of course, those reductions have been enhanced by the sudden behavioural change created by the global coronavirus pandemic. Our carbon emissions from air travel have plummeted by 70%, and we have travelled 57% fewer miles by car – this is despite our sales teams, field service engineers and manufacturing sites continuing to operate. We’ve also seen a reduction in carbon emissions created from burning gas to heat and cool our premises.

However, we are determined not to lose the sustainability benefits of an otherwise very challenging year, and our emissions reduction plan for the year ahead will springboard us into the future. By embracing the new culture of connective technology, we can try to keep our air and road travel to a minimum. Like many, we are also adopting a hybrid model of work, mixing office, site and home working – continuing to reduce the environmental impact of our operations.

Further priorities include transitioning our car fleet to electric vehicles, to powering our facilities with green energy, to innovating with new ways of working to preserve resources, through to promoting social progress in our businesses.

Such significant progress is only achievable when senior management are 100% behind carbon reduction ambitions and as a result integrate sustainability goals firmly into the wider business plan. We’re fortunate in ABB that sustainability is embedded within our culture from a Group-level and that we are driven by the organisation’s Sustainability Strategy 2030 which encompasses the pillars: enabling a low carbon society, preserving resources, promoting social progress, and operating with integrity and transparency across our value chain.

We do this in ABB in the UK as a collective and we’re enormously grateful to the contribution each employee has made. For all of us, this process is a journey, and for the next leg we intend to bring our shared experiences together through a series of workshops to engender employee ownership of sustainability. By working together, we can create and enable a low carbon society.

David Day, Country HSE Manager


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