Edge Environment is an award-winning sustainability consultancy based in Australia and Chile. We’re committed to taking an evidence-based, life-cycle approach to tackling sustainability problems. It is this approach that underpins our own science-based targets and the work we do with clients looking to improve their triple bottom line sustainability.
Edge’s SBT commits us to maintaining our scope 2 emissions at close to zero by 2022, through continued use of renewable energy. In addition, we commit to reduce our scope 3 emissions from purchased goods and services by 28%, and by 13% from business travel by 2027 from a 2017 base-year.
Why did you set the Science-Based Target?
As sustainability consultants we spend our time working with companies in a range of sectors to show them the enormous value that can be created by shifting to a low-carbon business model. But we didn’t believe that could be credible unless we were prepared to ‘walk the talk’ ourselves.
We also have a team that choose to work at Edge because of their own personal commitment to sustainability. As such, setting an SBT is an important part of us retaining and motivating our team, and attracting passionate new staff.
Finally, one thing you realise when setting SBTs is that, increasingly, leading companies are going to be expecting suppliers to demonstrate their sustainability credentials. That means making a public commitment, like setting an SBT, represents a way to future-proof our business.
What was the process of setting the targets?
We are a small organisation, with well-developed environmental and social measurements and monitoring through our involvement in the BCorp movement. Developing science-based targets was primarily an exercise in breaking up our existing carbon emissions data into categories that would align with the Sectoral Decarbonisation Approach, and analysing them using a tool provided by the Science Based targets Initiative.
What difference does having set a science-based target make?
Historically a lot of target setting has been “finger in the air” stuff. Having a science-based target ensures that what we’re aiming for aligns with the reality of the climate challenge. And, of course, it’s great to be part of a global movement that is gaining momentum every day.
What are the benefits of having the target?
As mentioned earlier, we have no doubt that setting an SBT is good for our business: helping us to demonstrate leadership; gain new business with sustainability-focused clients; and attract and retain committed staff. Those initial motivations are already being backed up by the hard evidence of people coming to us as a result of the commitment we’ve made.
To what extent has setting science-based targets driven innovation within your company?
Our targets are primarily focused on the products we purchase and the business travel we undertake. Perhaps not precisely “innovation”, but the need to meet the target is driving us towards implementing sustainable procurement practices across the business, and re-thinking the modes of transport we use when we need to travel, as well as exploiting opportunities to use technology to communicate and collaborate with clients and peers.
And of course, the lessons we’ve learned in setting our own target has helped us develop our approach to the work we’re doing setting science-based targets for our clients.
Did you encounter any challenges?
The process was reasonably straight forward for us simply because we’re a small company with a relatively limited footprint. The main challenges probably lie ahead in terms of selecting and collaborating with suppliers to drive down our supply chain emissions when we lack the market power of big corporations.
Do you anticipate this improving your relationship with regulators or government?
As a small professional services business, the main benefit will come from our ability to demonstrate our sustainability credentials as part of tender responses. Perhaps it will also open up opportunities to work with the Government as an example of a business that is taking steps to be part of the future low carbon economy.
What advice would you offer a company getting ready to embark on the science-based targets journey?
Start the journey ASAP! For larger companies, setting a science-based target can be relatively complex, and so if it’s something you are considering, get on and do it. Engage with all relevant stakeholders early, especially senior management. Dedicate some real time and effort to measuring and considering actions to address scope 3 emissions: it’s where most companies have fallen short so far (and contact us if you need help!). And finally, remember that there is a very engaged, collaborative community of practice out there, and lots of guidance and tools to help you.