Natasha Allard

Senior Manager, Global Environment Strategy at dentsu international

Today we’ve announced a new long term Net-Zero target. It goes further and deeper than our existing 2030 commitment. It includes a new deep decarbonisation target to reduce absolute emissions by 90% by 2040 across our entire value chain. 

This is setting a new standard – and challenge – to our own business to plan for truly deep, transformative decarbonization, setting targets in the near term to 2030, and long term to 2040. We’re really proud to be the first in our industry, and one of only seven companies worldwide to have our targets validated by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). But we know that this comes with a responsibility to follow this up with more action in the coming months and years. 

SBTi is the benchmark for corporate net zero commitments to align with the Paris Agreement’s goal of restricting planetary warming to 1.5°C. Their new standard means companies only reach net-zero when they have achieved their long-term science-based target. This requires deep decarbonization of 90-95% before 2050 for most companies, dramatically reducing the role of offsetting in achieving net-zero, whilst still acknowledging that offsets can drive investment in climate action on the journey to net-zero. 

This is the kind of ambition we believe is necessary which is why we’ve pushed ourselves to have our long term target assessed, tested and validated, to build on our near term 2030 target. It builds on progress we’ve made already. Year-on-year, dentsu reported strong results against its environmental and social targets for 2020, reducing absolute emissions by 39% across its operations in 2019, continuing to support our commitment to RE100, and using our work to influence better, more sustainable choices.  

The new standard raises the bar for the level of integrity and examination of company commitments, providing a common, robust and science-based understanding of what net-zero will really need to entail, giving business leaders clarity and confidence in the efforts they make to align long-term decarbonisation with climate science. It’s testament to the hard work of the experts who’ve given us a standard to work from and the 80+ companies that took part in the road test to trial the tools, guidance and materials. 

Estimates suggest as much as 80% of global GDP is now covered by commitments to reach net zero. But while the flurry of corporate net zero commitments over the past two years has been welcome there has naturally been some cynicism from some circles over the associated years, volumes and scopes. 

Society must decarbonise rapidly – at least half by 2030 – and achieve net zero by 2050, to limit the worst impacts of climate change. As this awareness and understanding has grown so has the impetus for businesses to set clear, comparable and ambitious goals for achieving net zero with progressive near and long term targets  for getting there. The new SBTi Net-Zero Standard provides a common,  science-based understanding of net-zero. 

In practice it means we have updated our targets to embrace the new standard and have now set our sights on: 

  • Near-Term Target: dentsu commits to reduce absolute scope 1, 2, and 3 GHG emissions 46.2% by 2030 from a 2019 base year   
  • Long-Term Target: dentsu also commits to reduce absolute scope 1, 2, and 3 GHG emissions 90% by 2040 from a 2019 base year

If you’re not in the detail of net zero every day, there’s a danger that a 2040 target sounds like we’re kicking the can down the road. We’re not. We're still committed to the same level of reduction by 2030, but now we’ve got an even more ambitious target to deliver  deep and long-lasting reductions beyond this. If we achieve the long-term target, we will have achieved ‘real’ net zero 10 years before the targeted 2050 deadline set by the Paris Agreement.  

With eyes of the world firmly on whether businesses and governments at COP26 will take the tough action required to offset the worst effects of climate change, the new net zero standard cannot have come at a better time. It’s a commitment for the long-term, with robust science and heightened clarity around it, and to achieve it our entire business is in it for the long haul, bringing creativity, innovation, and investment to meet the ambition. 

It underlines for me how at dentsu, we are committed to the most ambitious level of climate action, and we won’t claim net-zero until we get there.  

Find out more about our net zero target here