Achieving carbon neutrality is a challenge many companies face. It comes against the backdrop of environmental, social and governance policies, increasing regulatory pressure and demands from customers and investors. For multinationals with a global manufacturing footprint and supply chain, the task can seem daunting. The good news is that it can be done.

We began measuring and reducing our carbon emissions more than a decade ago and in 2015 made a commitment to achieve carbon-neutral operations by the end of 2020. 

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Importantly, we made emissions reduction core to our company strategy and set science-based targets. Every aspect of our operations — from manufacturing to business travel — was dissected to save energy and emissions with unavoidable emissions offset by investment in measurable, worthy projects. All our teams were involved.

Naturally, we installed our own energy-efficient LED and connected lighting technology in our facilities and invested in energy-efficient manufacturing and HVAC systems. We reappraised our supply chain and logistics and re-engineered our loading strategy with a focus on ocean rather than air freight. For road transport, and our own lease fleet, we began the transition to electric and hybrid vehicles and policies were introduced to weed out unnecessary business travel.

Crucially, we made the shift to 100% renewable electricity. Key to this were virtual power purchase agreements for wind farms in Texas and Poland, the latter accounting for 25% of our global electricity consumption. We also pioneered a solar electricity deal in the Gulf, the first of its kind in the region to use the International REC, a renewable energy documenting standard.

Some emissions are unavoidable, and offsetting is required to close the emissions gap. At Signify we offset with a purpose and invited employees to select projects which also benefit local communities. These included reforestation projects in Colombia and an off-grid solar energy programme in India. 

Achieving carbon neutrality requires partners. We found it useful to work with like-minded advocates such as the Climate Group and World Green Building Council. It allowed us to transfer inspiration into collaboration and action and do it at speed. 

We achieved carbon neutrality in September 2020 and have set ambitious targets for 2025, including doubling the pace at which we will reach the 1.5-degree scenario in the Paris Agreement. Going forward, we will share our experiences and collaborate with our customers and other companies, helping them to achieve their sustainability goals and mitigate their impact on the environment and society.

Eric Rondolat is the CEO of Signify, a multinational LED lighting group.