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Together to Net Zero with our suppliers

Setting the scene

The decisions we make in 2021 will determine our future in the years to come. The science is unequivocal that the next decade really is make or break for planet earth. To avoid runaway climate change we must limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. To achieve this goal we need to decarbonise at a rate of 11.7% a year (versus a decarbonisation rate of 2.4% in 2019) as shown by PwC’s Net Zero Economy Index report. It’s clear that the game has changed. Economic modelling shows the benefits of Net Zero outweigh the costs[1]. This has become a matter of competitive advantage for nations and companies - green jobs will deliver opportunity and economic return and will ensure the wellbeing of tomorrow.

With COP26 approaching, the UK Government is calling for everyone to play their part. The government has set a target to cut emissions by 78% by 2035 in line with recommendations from the Climate Change Committee’s Sixth Carbon Budget. One way to be part of the crescendo of activity in the run up to COP26 is by joining the Race to Zero. Race to Zero is a UN backed umbrella campaign which asks all non-state actors including business large and small, to commit to Net Zero emissions by 2050 at the very latest, underpinned by a 1.5C aligned decarbonisation target.

At PwC, we’ve been carbon neutral since 2007 and made great progress in reducing our carbon footprint and decoupling it from business growth. In September 2020, the PwC global network announced a worldwide science-based commitment to achieve Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. A key element of this commitment is advocating Net Zero beyond our own operations, by supporting our clients and suppliers to reduce their emissions. This is important because as a professional services firm, the emissions from our own operations are relatively low whilst those of our suppliers are many times bigger. That’s why our long standing Supply Chain Sustainability programme is designed to drive down carbon emissions from our supply chain through engagement, collaboration and innovation.

What we did

Our 2020 supplier forum set out the implications of a Net Zero economy and what it will require from business. It covered how to set science-based targets, how to cut carbon via energy efficiency and switching to low carbon energy sources, as well as guidance on offsets.

Our 2021 forum built on the Net Zero foundations we set in 2020, by looking at how to transform business and move from Net Zero ambition to action. Suppliers rated which elements they valued hearing about most, based on ‘The Building Blocks for Net Zero Transformation’, our report with Microsoft which provides a practical guide to Net Zero business transformation.

The key building blocks selected as the focus of our forum were:

  • Ambition - How do you set a company ambition aligned to achieving global Net Zero by no later than 2050, underpinned by a science-based target approach to limit warming to 1.5C?
  • Strategy - How can Net Zero be embedded into your company strategy, including growth and functional strategies to maximise value and build resilience in a changing climate?
  • Supply Chains - What is required to build an effective Net Zero supply chain transformation programme?

The packed agenda featured a combination of PwC specialists and third party speakers, including a showcase from one of our most recent suppliers to commit to a science-based target, and a session from our Chief Sustainability Officer who is currently on secondment to the COP26 High Level Climate Champions Team, helping to drive business climate action in the Race to Zero ahead of COP26.

Making a difference

We had 168 attendees including 100 supplier representatives from 56 different companies, across seven sectors from travel to marketing. The agenda focused on key areas of Net Zero organisational transformation that attendees most wanted support with and participants rated the event as highly informative, describing it as ‘inspiring, insightful, and enlightening’. It was also encouraging that all participants taking part in our feedback at the end of the session said they were motivated to support their business transition towards Net Zero.

Business is clearly listening to calls for climate action, as the results from polls amongst suppliers attending illustrate:

  • Net Zero an opportunity for business: The overwhelming majority of suppliers that attended see Net Zero as an opportunity for business. Specifically, 93% think the transition to Net Zero will have a mostly positive impact on business, while 7% think it will have a combination of both positive and negative impacts.
  • Momentum towards a 1.5 degree world: 33% have already set a Science Based Target and 40% intend to by 2025 (with 35% of those intending to in the next 12 months). Suppliers also responded that they felt better equipped to set one as a result of our forum.
  • Action ahead of COP: We’re delighted that several suppliers have already joined the Race to Zero, and many more are keen. We’re seeing a trend of business wanting to be seen as part of the climate solution.

To keep average global warming under 1.5 degrees we all need to scale and accelerate climate action. Advocacy is a key element of any Net Zero commitment so engaging our suppliers and working together to share knowledge is just one way we, at PwC UK, are working to play our part in delivering a Net Zero economy.

For more information on how we are helping clients understand their climate risks and set Net Zero strategies please see here.

“Today’s event provided insight on the speed of action required in setting a Net Zero ambition.”

“The main actions I will take away from today’s event are committing to Net Zero and setting science-based targets. This will be our company focus moving forward.”

“I will engage with leadership to establish targets and help drive company ambition around Net Zero.”

“We will increase our own Net Zero engagement with key suppliers.”

PwC suppliers attending the 2021 Sustainability Forum


Contact us

Latifa Kapadia

Latifa Kapadia

Corporate Sustainability, PwC United Kingdom

Rebecca Osmaston

Rebecca Osmaston

Corporate Sustainability, PwC United Kingdom

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