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The climate crisis: an Olympic challenge

As we enter the 2020s, the world’s attention is increasingly focused on environmental challenges. Scientists now say we must totally decarbonise the economy to avoid catastrophic climate breakdown.

Meeting this challenge will require huge efforts from governments, organisations and individuals. What can we all do, and how much can businesses drive the change that’s required?

Bridget Jackson, our Chief Sustainability Officer, looks back to the London Olympics of 2012 to reflect on her own motivations and how she’s taking the firm on its ground-breaking sustainability journey. She highlights some of the key environmental issues facing the world, what the firm has done to become a leader on sustainable practices, and what lessons there are individually for us all.

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Bridget Jackson: The London Olympics was such an amazing time for everyone. We were all so excited, so proud of Britain. We’d come together and done something really special. And for me, too, it was just an amazing time when we all felt like we were on a journey together. 

I think it’s just really an exemplar of what we can do when we really need to and when we all come together to work on something.

We know we’ve got about 10 years in which we can take action and avoid the worst ravages of climate breakdown. 

Personally, I feel I have a duty to use my skills and use my capabilities to be able to drive change and make a difference in the world. It’s all to play for and everyone has a part to play. 

2012 was also an important turning point for PwC. We’d obviously done work on sustainability before but that was really the year in which the Board committed to a much more ambitious set of targets. We decided to decouple our business growth from the environmental impacts that we have. 

We’re in year 12 of our programme and our carbon emissions are down by 90%; and we offset anything that is residual at the end of the year in places that are high biodiversity value like the Amazon. We send our food waste to anaerobic digestion, the coffee grounds off to become biofuel. We send all uniforms off to be shredded and made into automotive felt for the automotive industry. And we also send over a paper to be recycled and made into other products which we buy back into the business.

I think we’re at a really unique moment in time, and 2020 is the year in which everyone - governments, citizens, businesses - all have to make really big decisions and set our ambitions for 2030.

We have to find the leader in each of us and really step up to this now.

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Bridget Jackson

Bridget Jackson

Chief Sustainability Officer, PwC United Kingdom

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