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Pledge to Net Zero founders urge environment sector to continue tackling greenhouse gas emissions

Ahead of World Environment Day this Friday (5 June), the organisations behind Pledge to Net Zero have urged environmental services firms to remain steadfast in their commitment to reducing greenhouse gases in the sector, despite the short-term distractions of Covid-19.

With many organisations focussing on short-term issues associated with the virus, the importance of climate change in Government policy and cutting organisations’ own greenhouse gas emissions should not be lost, said those behind the Pledge.

Pledge to Net Zero is the first industry commitment in the UK requiring science-based targets from its signatories to tackle greenhouse gas emissions within their organisations.

The initiative, led by Society for the Environment (SocEnv), Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA), Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE), and Environmental Industries Commission (EIC), together with leading environmental consultancies, WSP and AECOM, seeks to make the sector a leader for taking action on climate change, by not only asking businesses to embed net zero in their work but also implement net zero plans as an organisation.

Since its launch six months ago, 44 firms in the environmental services sector have now committed to Pledge to Net Zero covering over 20,000 employees in the sector. Signatories to date represent multiple sectors, including private sector consultancies, public sector organisations, professional bodies and non-consultancy companies working in fields such as contracting.

All signatories have committed to the below three pledges:

  1. Set and commit to deliver a greenhouse gas target in line with either a 1.5°C or well below 2°C climate change scenario – covering buildings and travel as a minimum.
  2. Publicly report greenhouse gas emissions and progress against this target each year
  3. Publish one piece of research or thought-leadership piece each year on practical steps to delivering an economy in line with climate science and in support of net zero carbon

Dr Emma Wilcox, Chief Executive at the Society for the Environment, said: “The 40-plus signatories to date are highlighting their commitment and leadership on the vital journey towards the 2050 net zero target set by the UK Government. Some will find it harder than others and many will need support, but that is perfectly OK – the end goal is still achievable. I encourage all current signatories to collaborate and challenge others to make the pledge – a hugely positive difference is inevitable with a collective, science-based effort.”

David Symons, UK Director of Sustainability at WSP, said: “To see such enthusiasm and engagement from the environmental services sector in only six months is extremely encouraging. We need to continue this action because while Covid-19 is the most urgent threat to society today, climate change is the largest threat to humanity in the long term.”

The next signatory window for the Pledge opens on World Environment Day (5 June).

Signatories who make the pledge during the upcoming 2020 windows will set their first science-based target before 15 May 2021.

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