PwC Australia delivers quality auditing, assurance, consulting and tax services to more than 5,000 clients with approximately 8,000 people based in offices throughout Australia. It’s part of a network of firms in 158 countries with over 250,000 people. Its purpose is to build trust in society and is a powerful multiplier of connections and innovation. It’s what the firm does best: Connecting people, business, technology and ideas to solve important problems believing the most important problems are better solved together.
PwC Australia is committed to managing its impact on the environment, being environmentally responsible, and growing environmental intelligence more broadly. In 2008, the company was the first professional services firm to be carbon neutral certified under what is now Climate Active. It has continued this commitment ever since. The firm achieves carbon neutrality through a focus on reducing its carbon impact and purchasing accredited Climate Active eligible carbon offsets for any residual, unavoidable emissions.
Business case for obtaining Climate Active certification
PwC Australia decided to become carbon neutral as part of its overall environmental agenda. Carbon neutrality has allowed PwC Australia to align with the firm’s global strategy to account for its greenhouse gas emissions. Climate Active certification was chosen as it is a government-approved standard and represents a robust carbon neutral claim. It has provided PwC with an opportunity to take a leadership position by joining other carbon neutral certified organisations and leading in the transition towards a low carbon economy.
Achieving carbon neutrality
PwC Australia’s emissions boundary includes all of its offices in Australia that are occupied by PwC employees. PwC Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions footprint decreased by 21 per cent between FY17 and FY18. This was mainly due to a decrease in energy consumption linked to the consolidation of PwC Australia’s Sydney and Melbourne offices.
Many emissions reduction activities have been undertaken across the firm. For example:
- promotion of internal video conferencing instead of long/short distance travelling to reduce travel emissions;
- redesigning all offices as activity-based environments to reduce office energy usage;
- relocating five out of eight offices to more energy efficient locations and embedding an environmental lens into office designs;
- embedding technology to allow our people to work flexibly (eg, work from home) and reduce local travel.
Underpinning PwC’s voluntary carbon purchase is a set of strict quality criteria, including ensuring offsets are verified by an independent third party to an established standard or protocol. Through carbon purchasing PwC seeks to drive projects with co-benefits, including helping to create renewables markets, support economic and social development in communities, and create and sustain landscapes. In 2018, we supported the following carbon offset projects:
- Savanna fire management, Australia (supports UNSDG 13, 15). Fire management to prevent large wildfires late in the dry season, in tropical northern Australia. Savannah burning is a cultural tradition amongst the Indigenous population of Cape York.
- Shanxi Cookstoves, China (supports UNSDG 1, 3, 7, 8, 13). Tackling household air pollution and substituting coal use with improved cookstoves.
- Duzova Wind Power, Turkey (supports UNSDG 7, 13). Delivering essential renewable energy capacity in a country with rapidly growing greenhouse gas emissions.
Benefits and outcomes of carbon neutral certification
Climate Active certification benefits PwC in multiple ways. For example, it has allowed PwC to:
- take a leadership position by joining other NCOS-certified organisations in the transition towards a low carbon economy;
- demonstrate the importance of environmental strategy within and outside the organisation;
- access to the certification trademark and use it to communicate a positive environmental narrative;
- identify opportunities to minimise carbon emissions annually, such as through reduced energy bills and increased employee engagement (particularly through the firm’s national Green Team Network).
Challenges and learnings
PwC found the initial application phase of gaining certification through the Carbon Neutral Program time consuming. However, this time commitment has reduced each year as the reporting process becomes more familiar. Since joining the Program, reporting requirements have also become more streamlined and the process allows the firm to reliably measure its environmental impact and track progress against carbon emission reduction targets.