Beyond renewables: Why businesses need a dual-focused decarbonisation strategy

Guste Saduikyte

Global Environment Manager 

In 2016, dentsu international became a member of RE100, the global corporate renewable power initiative, and committed to sourcing 100% renewable electricity (RE) across our global operations by 2020. We achieved our RE100 target in 2020 across our business where markets allowed. We’re proud of this achievement, but we cannot be complacent. To accelerate decarbonisation, businesses need a dual-focused strategy, transitioning to renewables whilst simultaneously working to reduce overall energy consumption. 

 Why renewable electricity, why now? 

The short answer is renewable electricity makes perfect business sense. At dentsu, to achieve our deep decarbonisation target of reducing our absolute emissions by at least 90% by 2040, we must continue sourcing 100% renewable power. In fact, by doing so, last year we reduced our Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 53%, achieving our near-term science-based target nine years early. And to tackle the ongoing energy crisis, renewables are essential in bringing stability and security to the energy markets and beyond. Raconteur reports on the increasing business interest in renewables in the UK market, stating that this as a “silver lining to the current energy crisis”. This is backed up by Positive News, which reports that recent technical improvements have resulted in a sharp reduction in the cost of generating electricity from renewables, with the potential for this to continue for some years to come. Today, it makes sense to develop and deploy renewable energy technologies in preference to just about any other means of power generation!  

 Influencing change, globally 

As a global advertising and marketing organisation, our energy consumption is much lower than if we were a manufacturer or a retailer, but I firmly believe that every company, however large or small, has a responsibility to operate ethically, responsibly and sustainably. We are bold when it comes to setting targets and were one of the first companies in the world to have our Net Zero target validated by the globally recognised Science Based Targets initiative a year ago. Alongside achieving our own deep decarbonisation target, we want to accelerate decarbonisation beyond our own organisation. We have been working on media decarbonisation initiatives since 2019, with a goal to reduce the emissions associated with our media supply chain by 46% by 2030. Early next year, we will integrate carbon data into our proprietary CCS Planner system, enabling teams to model the carbon impact of media campaign scenarios before ad-spend is committed.  

 The time to consume less starts now 

I started this blog talking about the need for a dual strategy and it’s true. Even with more organisations – and citizens - moving to 100 per cent renewable energy, the fact is that we won’t hit the targets the planet needs us to hit if we don’t address energy consumption too. For many organisations, energy efficiency isn’t as simple to address as renewable energy – it's also not as hot a topic. But it’s hugely important, and organisations need to ensure that they’re focusing resources and effort on both. Upgrading our offices and encouraging employees to make sustainable choices is a brilliant first step, and even the smallest actions – commuting to work via public transport and installing motion sensors to control lights – will add up when you’re a global business. 

 Transparency is vital 

We are making great strides towards hitting our targets and continuing to source 100 per cent renewable electricity is a major part of the plan for how we’ll get there. But we still face many barriers and it’s important to be transparent about this.  

We’re a global organisation operating in most markets worldwide, and in many of them, challenges remain in sourcing renewable energy, including lack of availability and limited sourcing options. In those cases, we source renewables from adjacent markets and continue engaging with global partners to enable corporate renewable energy sourcing in all markets globally. We are further developing our sourcing strategies to identify more impactful purchasing options, as well as working with our landlords to explore onsite renewables and ways of making our offices more energy efficient. 

 Hopes for COP27  

Earlier this year, the IPCC report highlighted how renewable energy can reduce risks associated with climate change. As government officials prepare to once again gather at COP27 in Egypt, I hope to see more action from our leaders, including: 

  1. Remove regulatory barriers and enable renewable energy sourcing for all. From driving new projects and technologies and developing national grids to support the clean energy transition, we need to see more investment and positive policy changes in the energy systems.  
  2. Promote energy efficiency programmes and drive further investment. By reducing our energy consumption and making buildings, both commercial and residential, more environmentally friendly, we will reduce carbon emissions and improve wellbeing. 

Dentsu is a bold leader when it comes to taking positive climate action. We’re not resting on our laurels with procuring renewable electricity, and we’re focused on reducing consumption across the entire organisation in parallel. The next phase of our journey is exciting – we hope you’ll stay tuned for more.