Written by Claire Baker, Head of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability, Bupa Centre
Recently, thousands of school pupils walked out of lessons and went on strike, as part of a global environmental campaign demanding political and societal action. Occurrences like this make clear more needs to be done to tackle the impacts of climate change.
At the end of January, I went along to the Carbon Trust’s forum “Climate change: what can businesses do to deliver a 1.5-degree C world?” at the House of Commons. Events like this re-enforce the school children’s message; more can and should be done.
A number of company representatives from a range of sectors and industries attended, including financial services, energy and health. The discussion focused on the role businesses can play in restricting climate change to 1.5°C degrees or less and the steps various organisations are taking to contribute to a healthier world.
So, why is 1.5°C so important? According to the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report from last year, limiting climate change to below 1.5°C, which goes further than the 2015 Paris Climate Conference’s (COP21) agreed 2°C, would require significant changes in all areas of society. However, this measure will make a sustainable future much more likely. If the target is met, it is expected that we would see fewer drastic weather occurrences globally, such as severe droughts, heatwaves and flooding, and less extinctions in wild species.
Achieving this is a responsibility held by both the individual as well as the collective. For companies, we can contribute to the IPCC’s target by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and investing in renewable forms of energy.
In 2018, multinational food producer, Danone announced its pledge to become carbon neutral by 2050. This movement followed companies such as Ikea and DHL, who are also investing in minimising their environmental impact through reduced emissions, using only recycled materials, and reforestation. The breadth of how businesses can reduce carbon footprint globally is huge, along with pace – we are often able to move faster than governments, across geographical borders.
At Bupa we know that healthy people need a healthy planet, and we also know our customers and our people have an expectation that we must grow and operate sustainably. Over the last 10 years, Bupa has transformed the way we source and use energy. In the UK, all electricity for our care homes, clinics, the Cromwell hospital and our offices are from renewable sources. Furthermore, the Bupa Place office in Salford Quays and Angel Court in London have a BREEAM rating of Excellent for its environmental, social and economic sustainability performance.
Bupa’s carbon reduction focus is global too; Poland and Denmark have converted to 100% renewable power across all sites and, globally, renewable electricity now accounts for over 50% of our supply. In Australia, over 4,400kW of solar energy has been installed in our aged care homes since 2014 and in 2018, our New Zealand care homes officially began to source from 100% renewable electricity. Efforts in Spain are ongoing. By carefully measuring carbon emission outputs and endorsing initiatives designed to reduce carbon consumption, there has been a reduction in our footprint there by 8.1% over the last five years.
I’m proud to work for a company that plays an active part in taking care of the environment. I also know that it will take continued effort across all sectors to meet the 1.5°C target. At Bupa, we know that preventing climate change will keep our planet healthier, and keep our customers, people and future generations healthy too.