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What difference does 0.5ºC make? It’s a whole different world.

James Robey
October 26, 2020

Having our new carbon reduction targets validated by the Science Based Target initiative (SBTi) as being in line with the level of reduction required to limit global warming to 1.5oC above pre-industrial levels is a significant milestone on our path to becoming a net zero business by 2030.

Carbon reduction is the foundation for Capgemini’s net zero ambition. These new science-based targets put us firmly on the path to dramatically increasing the scale of our carbon reduction across our operations while accelerating the pace at which we make those changes happen. It is a significant shift in gear for us.

What difference does that extra 0.5oC of target mean for our business?

To put it into context – Capgemini’s previous carbon reduction requirements were set in 2017 against a 2oC warming trajectory, when we were one of the first companies committed to the SBTi.

According to the SBTi’s methodology, the level of carbon reduction needed to meet a 1.5oC pathway is more or less three times larger than it is for a 2oC pathway. For those looking at our program, a change of 0.5oC degrees may not seem like much, but in truth, it requires a truly significant transformation for our business.

Firstly, we will need to accelerate, scale, and replicate our best practices on carbon reduction – for example, rolling out on our award-winning approach to virtual collaboration technology to reduce the need for business travel while developing plans to introduce renewable electricity throughout our operations by 2025. We will be able to leverage our experiences with energy, for example, learning from our campuses in Bangalore and Hyderabad, which are successfully exporting surplus energy generated from our in-house captive solar plants to state electricity boards.

Our new ambition will also require us to radically rethink both how and where we work while continuing to deliver for our clients. Cross-business teams are already putting in place plans, building on the learnings from the lockdowns of the past six months, exploring how we can resource projects more innovatively and flexibly, adapting our travel policy to support low-carbon outcomes, as well as reviewing our approach to sustainable offices and work spaces, and the products and goods we buy.

The difference of 0.5oC of warming could be catastrophic for the planet.

The distinction from a planetary perspective might also sound small, but in terms of the consequences, there is a veritable chasm between 1.5°C and 2°C.

Research published in 2018 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations’ body for assessing the science related to climate change, highlighted the differences in warming scenarios at 2°C and 1.5°C.

Hitting 2°C warming, will mean the world will be a profoundly different place. Coral reefs will disappear, the Arctic will be completely devoid of ice during summer at least once a decade, and significant numbers of species will vanish forever as their habitat becomes smaller and smaller.

Holding warming to 1.5°C could mean 11 million fewer people exposed to extreme heat, 61 million fewer people exposed to drought, and 10 million fewer people exposed to the impacts of sea level rise. In addition, the destruction of animal and plant habitats will be significantly reduced.

The need for collective action on climate change

Over the last few months, in addition to our net zero ambition, Capgemini has committed to join partnerships that share our aspirations, signing both the Business Ambition for 1.5 degree targets, and joining the Race to Zero campaign as a founding member.

Through our digital innovation, consulting, and transformation brand, Capgemini Invent, we are proud to be a premium partner of World Climate Foundation, which facilitates large-scale collaboration between businesses, governments, financial institutions, and civil society through the World Climate Summit and World Climate Forums.

Capgemini has recently launched a new report identifying 55 high-impact climate technology projects that can help Europe meet 2050 net-zero emissions target. Climate change is not a “single business issue” – it’s too large a problem, and the stakes are too great, for any one sector, organization, or even country to tackle alone. We know that only a complete Sustainable Business Revolution will deliver the climate safe outcome we all need.