COWI will drastically reduce the company’s air travel, domestic and international. Furthermore, COWI's car fleet will be converted to hybrid or electric cars. These measures will contribute to reducing COWI's carbon footprint by more than 70 per cent by 2030, compared to baseline year 2008, and to reaching carbon neutrality in 2050.
Virtual project planning meetings with customers and colleagues across Scandinavia, and professional webinars with participants from Shanghai to London. Those are but a few glimpses of how COVID-19 has changed the way COWI employees work. And digital work patterns will be further accelerated in the future.
COWI has indeed decided to shave off 25 per cent of all air travel related to customer meetings and 50 per cent of air travel related to internal meetings and seminars. That goes for both domestic travel and international. COWI's Group CEO, Lars-Peter Søbye, says:
“We’re 100 per cent dedicated to making a difference to our climate and contributing to a more sustainable future. We do that through our primary activities – the 14,000 projects we carry out across the world, developing solutions for sustainable cities and societies with our customers, e.g., involving mode of transport, utilities, buildings, energy systems and nature.
We also want to reduce the carbon footprint of our internal activities and operations. Specifically, our target is to reduce our carbon footprint by more than 70 per cent by 2030, using 2008 as baseline, and to become completely carbon neutral in 2050. I’m delighted that we now have a plan in place for how to meet goals for the first part of this journey.”
The chosen measures originate in a thorough analysis of COWI’s total CO₂ emissions, prepared by COWI's inhouse climate accounting experts, and the findings are clear:
“Almost half – 48 per cent – of our total carbon footprint comes from business travel, of which air travel makes up a whopping 71 per cent. That’s why air travel is a key action area. Furthermore, we’ve chosen to electrify our car fleet, thereby ensuring that all new supervision cars will be electric cars and all new company cars will be electric or hybrid cars,” says Lars-Peter, who is excited about the COWI employees’ many suggestions for how to reduce the company’s CO₂ emissions.
The new measures will substantially affect the company’s almost 7,000 employees, working from offices in 23 countries across the world. However, Lars-Peter is confident that it is possible:
“No matter how tragic and trying life during COVID-19 has been and continues to be, we’ve proven that we are capable of so much more, and at a much higher pace, than we could’ve imagined: During the COVID-19 lockdown, our travels ceased overnight – which means that in 2020 we will reach our carbon reduction target for 2030. Despite the lockdown, we succeeded in maintaining high productivity, while seeing increasing customer satisfaction, among other things thanks to frequent virtual contact to our customers. That proved to us that our new digital work patterns can be a force boosting our climate initiatives,” he says, stressing:
“Even though the 2020 situation with extremely low travel activity cannot be a permanent scenario for a company carrying out projects across the world, one thing is for sure: We’ll never fly to the same extent as we did pre-COVID-19.”
At the end of 2019, COWI launched its new sustainability strategy:
*This target has been achieved, e.g., via supplementary carbon offset credits related to an Indonesian wind farm.
**Without the use of carbon offset credits.
COWI’s mapping of the company’s carbon footprint:
Søren Kragh Pedersen
Head of Group PA & PR
+45 2025 7018