Enabling the transformation to a low-carbon society

Fully committed to being part of the solution for a better tomorrow, we have set science-based targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

At current rates, greenhouse gas emissions will increase average global temperatures by 4–6°C by the end of this century, resulting in unmanageable climate change. This means that we all need to do more, and faster. This is why we have set science-based targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with climate science.

We talked with Sofia Svingby, Vice President Sustainability for the Atlas Copco Group, to learn more about these ambitious new targets and what they mean for the company. Sofia, what are science-based targets?

Science-based targets are targets set by companies to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. They are calculated based on what we know from independent climate science.

These targets ensure a company’s emissions are in line with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The Paris Agreement was reached in 2015 when 195 of the world’s governments committed to preventing the worst effects of climate change. 

To do that we must work to limit the average global temperature increase to well below two degrees Celsius and pursue efforts to limit temperature increases to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Watch the short video with Sofia Svingby, VP Sustainability.

Setting high-ambition targets at the company level helps governments to achieve their targets. We also want to show our intention to contribute to limiting the global temperature increase.

How do science-based targets differ from other emission reduction targets?

Science-based targets focus purely on greenhouse gas emissions reduction. They are based on what’s known as the ‘carbon budget’ – the emissions permitted that will keep temperature increases within the limits set by the Paris Agreement.

An organization called the Science Based Targets initiative reviews a company’s measurement of its greenhouse gas emissions. It validates that the targets are in line with what science stipulates as needed to avoid unmanageable climate change.  

What science-based targets has Atlas Copco set?

We have an approved science-based target to reduce the emissions from our direct operations, such as manufacturing, vehicles and offices, and from the energy we use. We aim to reduce these emissions by 46% by 2030, compared to our 2019 baseline.

We also have an approved target to reduce our value chain emissions, mainly the carbon impact of our products in use, by 28% by 2030, compared to our 2019 level of emissions.

How did Atlas Copco establish what targets to set?

First, we ran a yearlong project to calculate our emissions along the value chain. These are broadly found in three categories: the emissions from the energy we consume in our manufacturing and offices, the emissions from vehicles, and the emissions generated in the production of the material or components used in our products, and from the use of our products.

Then we ran a separate project to dig into where we see opportunities to reduce our emissions – based on our understanding of what’s possible today, our strategy for the coming years, technological trends, and projections for the decarbonization of electricity grids. By that we mean that we also account for some external development of new technologies and adoption of infrastructure – wider availability of charging stations for electric vehicles, for example, and wider adoption of the renewable energy that will result in lower emissions from the energy consumed by our products.

What is the significance of having targets approved by the Science Based Targets initiative?

Having our targets approved by this internationally recognized organization means that our emissions calculation and targets for reduction were vetted and seen as based in sound data and estimates.

What are the environmental and business benefits of science-based targets?

There are clear benefits for businesses in setting such targets. Playing a leading role in the transition to a low-carbon economy gives us a competitive advantage. We challenge ourselves to develop and deliver even more energy-saving solutions for our customers. We also reduce our risk of exposure to the regulatory pressures of carbon prices, which are expected to rise over time. To have our targets validated by an independent organization like the Science-Based Targets initiative also adds transparency and external credibility to our goals.

How has setting these targets informed Atlas Copco’s wider sustainability strategy?

Science-based targets provide us a publicly recognized, high-level climate ambition. We will also have sub-targets to help us achieve the SBTs. 

What’s the impact of businesses setting their own science-based targets?

The large number of companies that have committed to setting science-based targets shows a groundswell in climate ambition. These targets are ambitious, and if every business were to set science-based targets, we would all gain confidence about being on track to prevent the worst effects of climate change.

Of course, the main benefit of having such targets is that they inspire new ways of thinking,  new initiatives and the actions needed for positive change.

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