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Climate Positive Action- The challenge and Cundall’s commitment

Climate Change By David Clark, Partner, Sustainability – 06 November 2018


Dave Clark in middle of a park with blurred trees and grass background

David Clark

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In September 2018, Cundall published our new sustainability roadmap, One Planet, One Chance, which identifies targets and actions for six priority impacts. Climate Positive Action is one of these impacts.

The Challenge

There are many environmental and social factors that need to be addressed when considering sustainability, however, by far the most critical is the impact of climate change due to global warming caused by man-made greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. At the COP 21 UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in December 2015, the nations of the world agreed to limit global warming to well under 2°C above the 1750 pre-industrial level and to pursue efforts to limit temperature increase to 1.5°C.

A special report issued in October 2018 by the usually conservative Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated that staying below the 1.5°C target would only be possible with "rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society." And, according to many climate scientists, we have already exceeded the carbon budget for the 1.5°C target and the opportunity for holding to 2°C is rapidly fading unless the world starts reducing emissions immediately. The voluntary commitments made by the nations in Paris to cut GHG emissions are insufficient, and have a probability of less than 10% to remain below 2°C and only a 66% possibility of remaining below 3°C.

Our Commitment

If we are to make a difference, all businesses need to take direct action to reduce their footprint, but also seek to influence our short-sighted politicians to act. In establishing our response to climate change we have committed to reducing the whole carbon footprint of our projects, and to become a Carbon Positive business by no later than 2025.

Based on data from the Fifth Assessment Report of IPPC the breakdown of global GHG emissions of 49 GtCO2e in 2010 was:

IPCC Sector Direct & Indirect GHG Alignment with Cundall Sustainability Roadmap Impacts
Buildings 18% Zero Carbon Energy
Transport 14% Transport and Travel
Industry 32% Materials and Supply Chain, Zero Waste
Agriculture, Forestry and other land uses 25% Local and Sustainable Food, Land and Nature
Other Energy 11%

Our roadmap sets out actions against all of these under 'Climate Positive Action.'

Cundall is a founding partner of the World Green Building Council’s Net Zero Carbon Building’s Commitment which aligns with our Zero Carbon Energy objectives including reducing our office energy consumption, procuring all renewable electricity by 2025, reporting our performance and advocating for zero carbon buildings. We will also commit to occupying/leasing zero carbon buildings by 2030.

Our Workplace

Our climate positive action strategy is to:

  • Reduce
    • Energy consumption in our offices and to work with our landlords to reduce their energy consumption associated with providing services to our offices.
    • Travel emissions associated with business and commuting.
    • Material embodied carbon in office consumables and fit-out works.
    • Waste through reduction and re-use/recycling initiatives.
  • Decarbonise
  • Generate or purchase 100% renewable electricity.*
  • Transition from fossil fuels in buildings.
  • Transform
  • Preference low or zero carbon products in our supply chain.
  • Purchase credible carbon offsets equivalent to 115% of remaining carbon footprint directly supporting projects in new renewable energy generation.**

* This has to be new and additional to that required by national legislation, which is not currently possible in all countries. In the interim we will purchase carbon offsets supporting new renewable energy projects until such time as Power Purchase Agreements can be negotiated in each country for new, additional renewable energy.

** The offsets are an interim step on our journey to minimising our carbon footprint. We will not claim to be “carbon neutral” by purchasing offsets. Instead we are imposing a carbon tax on our business and using that tax to support carbon positive projects in developing countries to support new renewable energy generation. We will transparently report on the offset projects we are supporting, the global standard that they are accredited to, and the price we have paid for the offsets.

Our Projects

The three core components we will focus on during the design of buildings are:

  • Energy consumption and renewables (Zero Carbon Energy).
  • Embodied carbon in construction, refurbishment and fit-out (Materials and Supply Chain and Zero Waste).
  • Transport to and from buildings (Travel and Transport).

This forms a core component of our Environmental Management System and the Cundall Diploma and other in-house training and learning programs.