Playing a Vital Role in Tackling the Climate Emergency
Q&A with Jono Adams, Anthesis’ Climate and Net-Zero lead
Anthesis announced a bold and ambitious goal when Palatine invested in 2021 to support its clients to avoid, reduce, and remove at least 3GT of carbon dioxide emissions by 2030. Can you tell me about it?
Anthesis is determined to play an ambitious role in tackling the climate emergency through amplified impact. We wanted to set quantitative targets as many impact targets can be qualitative. So we looked at where we could set quantitative targets that would make a real difference, and carbon reduction stood out. It is an ambition that resonates well with our clients and colleagues and is the first in a portfolio of targets, which will also address the biodiversity crisis, the challenges of climate injustice and social impact beyond climate change.
Can you give some context as to how significant 3GT is in the context of global carbon emissions?
To limit warming to below 1.5°C, we need to reduce carbon emissions by at least 40GT by 2050, so 3GT is a meaningful part of this. 3GT is over half of the United States’ annual emissions or eight years of the UK’s current annual emissions.
So how did you come up with 3GT as a target?
We set the target based on an ambitious but credible intent to scale our support to clients and drive implementation of their reduction activity. A working group was formed to develop a methodology that would stand up to external scrutiny, given this was a first of its kind. We considered things like Anthesis’ current client numbers and growth trajectories, how many have set Science Based Targets (SBTs) and Net Zero strategies, how they are progressing etc. We are in the process of reviewing our results for year one and will announce them in due course.
What are some key areas you are working on with your clients to help them reduce their carbon emissions?
We spend a lot of time helping clients understand the scale of ambition required to achieve SBTs or a Net Zero target. Getting executives bought into setting their own targets for which they’re accountable is a giant leap, but we help them develop an action plan to understand what they need to do. In terms of example areas, we are often helping our clients look at the product they are providing to the market and helping develop the right business model in a low-carbon environment.
Setting an internal carbon price is another type of project we have supported and can be an essential tool. It means that every investment decision that that business makes incorporates a carbon price, so the external cost is internalised and therefore changes their decisions.
We’ve also done a lot about the greenhouse gas exposure of supply chains, working with clients on how they alter the design of their products to reduce emissions significantly. We all know about design obsolescence, but we have worked with clients to swap that so that more parts can be recycled and reused.
We are working with a tech business where they’ve made a commitment alongside Net Zero to become 100 per cent renewable. That’s easy for them to do at an operational level, but they are then pushing that as a requirement up their supply chain and even down onto their customers so that all the tiers of their supply chain are helping achieve their Net Zero challenges.
The final example is how we’re working with a manufacturer with many facilities worldwide. We did a load of work to identify where they can make significant energy conservation changes. There’s a massive CapEx cost which was a challenge in some ways, but there was also a considerable OpEx benefit. We have been really successful in putting together an investment case to show the payback.
Climate Neutral Group (CNG) recently joined the Anthesis Group. Can you tell me about CNG and how it will help Anthesis achieve its carbon reduction goals?
Sure. While a key part of CNG’s offer is to compensate or offset emissions, they do it in a manner cognizant of the hierarchy. CNG focus on reduction in the first instance, and where you cannot reduce, the next step is to offset through quality projects. Our 3GT ambition is predominately focused on avoidance and reduction rather than removals. They also have a climate-neutral certification program that needs to be updated annually. The certification will only be given where you have set a Net Zero target and are taking serious actions to reduce, and you are then just using offsets against what’s left, which should be shrinking. It stops people just saying we will buy some offsets, and we’re going to do nothing to make our reductions or make tiny reductions. It is about near-term and long-term SBTs, reducing your value chain emissions, and offsetting through that trajectory.
Do you have a final thought on carbon reduction?
One of the key things to appreciate is that continuous improvement isn’t going to get anywhere near the ambitions required. Many organisations previously focused on just achieving compliance or applying minimum environmental management standards, which focus on low percentage reductions in waste and/or energy over time. We’re not in that world. We are going to need business model change with huge operational upheaval. You’re going to have to change the very essence of your business. That is a big hurdle for anyone to hear, but we have seen with many clients already that these radical changes can be done while at the same time enhancing organisational value.