Environmental stewardship is never more top of mind than on Earth Day. It continues to be a unifying event each year, with over 1 billion people in 192 countries participating in events, but while the world makes progress toward cutting carbon emissions, there is still much work to be done. While nearly all countries across the world pledged to reduce emissions under the 2015 Paris Agreement, greenhouse gas emissions and global temperatures continue to rise.
The main goal of the Paris accord set to limit global warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F), which would avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Unfortunately, current global climate pledges are not ambitious enough to avoid that from happening. Current trends indicate that the world could hit that temperate increase by as soon as 2030 – unless action is taken to create more aggressive targets.
The United States is positioning itself to be a leader in the fight against climate change. With the U.S. reentering the Paris Climate Agreement on January 20, 2021, President Biden is committing the United States to ambitious emissions reduction targets – pledging to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50%–52% below the nation’s 2005 emissions levels by 2030. The U.S. is demonstrating its leadership and recommitment to the Paris Agreement not only by pivoting the nation’s energy infrastructure to one that will prioritize adoption of cleaner technologies to facilitate climate action, but by convening a virtual global climate summit on Earth Day to encourage other countries to do the same.
This Summit, named the Leaders Summit on Climate, will encourage countries to make stronger commitments under the Paris Agreement, and with up to 40 world leaders expected to be in attendance, it will be a key milestone ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November. The Summit will accentuate the urgency and economic benefits of stronger climate commitments. Here are some expected key themes of the Summit:
The 2021 Earth Day theme of “Restore Our Earth” could not more accurately reflect the current state of our climate crisis and the actions that we need to take. This year’s theme examines “natural processes, emerging green technologies and innovative thinking that can restore the world's ecosystems.” It up to each and every one of us to Restore Our Earth, and we all have a role to play in how we address climate change.
At Centrica Business Solutions, we take our role as a leading provider of energy for home and organizations seriously. Tackling climate change is the most important issue facing our society today, and the energy sector is at the forefront of the need to respond. We want to shape a lower-carbon future by enabling our customers to use energy smarter, more efficiently, and more sustainably – not just on Earth Day, but every day of the year.
We plan to lead by example. Our parent company, Centrica plc, embarked on a journey in 2007 to cut the internal carbon footprint of its property, fleet and travel by 20% by 2015. We not only met this target in 2015 – we exceeded it, achieving a 27% reduction. That same year, we committed to further reductions of 20% by 2025 against existing levels – surpassing this target only four years later in 2018, leading us to the creation of our Responsible Business Ambitions in 2019 to reduce our internal carbon footprint and customer emissions in line with the Paris Climate Agreement.
As the need to accelerate our collective journey to net zero grows, Centrica has once again responded in 2021 with new ambitions for our business and customer support with our People and Planet Plan. We are accelerating our commitment to be a net zero business by 2045 (40% reduction by 2034) – five years ahead of the national deadline. In addition, we are committing to helping our customers be net zero by 2050 (28% reduction by 2030). By reducing our own emissions (scope 1 and 2) and those of our customers (scope 3) we align with science-based targets and the actions required to limit global warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F).
Leading the energy transition
Our ambitious new goals for Centrica aim to reduce our own carbon footprint by 40% by 2034 and ultimately reach net zero by 2045. By 2050, we want to help our customers reach net zero too.
As a market leader in energy solutions, Centrica is well placed to achieve these goals by utilizing our capabilities to embed sustainable technologies and behaviors across our business and for our customers.
Around 90% of our carbon emissions come from our customers (scope 3 emissions), so the biggest thing we can do to fight climate change is to help our customers use energy more sustainably.
We can do this through our suite of innovative technologies that provide a wide range of energy efficiency services, enable on-site renewable energy generation through solar and storage and EV charging infrastructure, and facilitate participation in energy load management programs like Demand Response in combination with our energy insights solutions.
Our future energy system will be fully decarbonized, digitalized, decentralized and distributed. As part of President Biden’s ambitious carbon reduction targets, we are likely to see expansion of EV adoption and greater electrification of transportation infrastructure to support the growing number of EVs on the road, continued growth in the solar market with greater pairing rates of solar with battery storage, boosting existing building efficiency and including efficiency measures in new construction, and maximizing flexibility in energy markets to help balance supply and demand – especially with the continued growth of renewables integrating with the grid.
Having a clear, defined strategy to reduce carbon emissions while balancing profitability can help organizations anticipate and prepare for this transformation of the nation’s energy infrastructure and corresponding decarbonization policies to drive action against climate change. Interestingly though, our Distributed Energy Future Trends report found that two-thirds of companies believe it won’t be government intervention that will be the main agent of sustainable change – it will be market demand. An increasing number of employees, consumers, investors and governments are placing greater emphasis on environmental responsibility when making decisions. Our research also revealed that 89% of businesses agree that demonstrating a low carbon footprint will be essential for their brand by 2025, and as such, they want to accelerate their net zero plans and need to ensure that their financial goals tie in with sustainability.
Here are a few ways that our technology can put organizations on the path to sustainability and lower carbon emissions to align to new targets:
The average commercial building wastes 30% of the energy it consumes – year-after-year. Energy efficiency upgrades can eliminate this waste while reducing energy costs, increasing equipment life and performance, and improving employee comfort, safety and productivity. We take the burden out of developing and managing enterprise-wide energy efficiency upgrades by handling energy assessments, project design, implementation, ongoing measurement, and verification. We also provide off-balance sheet financing solutions like Energy-as-a-Service (EaaS), which enables implementation of energy efficiency upgrades with no upfront capital expenditure.
By investing in solar PV installations, organizations can transform roof space, land space, or parking lots into sources of on-site generation that can power their site with 100% renewable energy – improving both financial and environmental performance. Generating clean energy on-site instead of drawing energy from the grid enables cost reduction and carbon reduction. It also has the added benefits of enabling organizations to generate revenue by selling excess power back to the grid, reduce energy costs during peak price times by combining solar with battery energy storage, and earn revenue from supporting the grid through Demand Response programs. Download our guide to determine if you have a good site for solar PV and battery storage.
Organizations can help balance the grid through digitalized energy management solutions, such as Demand Response, by increasing or decreasing energy use at a time of grid instability or peak energy use. Organizations are financially compensated in return, creating a new source of revenue. In addition, organizations can install onsite generation or battery storage assets to increase the range of flexibility it can provide to the grid – enhancing the monetization value that can be achieved. This will become increasingly important as we move toward a higher renewables grid system, where intermittent energy sources can make it more challenging to balance supply and demand.
By monitoring and measuring energy consumption, organizations can improve operational performance and reduce costs and carbon. By monitoring equipment with low-cost, wireless sensors, businesses can quickly gain deep and insightful energy analytics. This can help to pinpoint where energy waste is occurring. It can also help to spot costly potential equipment failures before they happen – proactively identifying equipment that isn’t performing properly has the added benefit of enabling companies to make more informed procurement decisions to invest and measure the ROI of newer, more efficient equipment.
With electrification of transportation a key priority for the Biden administration, organizations who are in the early stages of their EV transition will need to quickly understand what their future EV fleet needs to look like, and the steps that are required to get there. After all, transitioning to EV doesn’t just mean changing the type of vehicles procured. It also means a change in how – and where – those vehicles are refueled. Our integrated package of charging infrastructure, on-site energy and software solutions deliver an end-to-end solution that helps organizations make the transition faster, simpler and more cost effective.
Together, we can drive impactful change that will align to nationwide and global goals while ensuring profitability. Choosing and implementing the right energy technologies that will drive sustainability might seem overwhelming. At Centrica Business Solutions, we offer not only a wide range of energy services and distributed energy technologies, but also the power of our expertise to guide you through. We'll work with you to understand your goals and determine the best energy solutions for your organization. Our unique combination of strategic guidance, industry expertise, innovative technology, flexible funding and full lifecycle support ensure you make the most of new opportunities.