Net zero with SBTi

How a company can become climate neutral

In the Swiss business environment, climate targets have become more important than ever before – becoming net zero and achieving climate neutrality have become key benchmarks for many businesses. But how exactly can a company become climate neutral? Swisscom has put its trust in science and set goals using the Science Based Target initiative (SBTi) framework.

Text: Swisscom, Image: iStock,

Since it was founded in 1998, Swisscom has been focusing intensively on the impact it has on people and the environment by continuously increasing energy efficiency to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The latest milestone has recently been reached: since January 2022, all Swisscom subscriptions have also been completely climate neutral in terms of the manufacture, delivery and end use of devices. The goal is for the entire company to be climate neutral across the entire value chain by 2025.

 

New, ambitious goals are always an important tool on this path to success. To this end, Swisscom became part of the Science Based Target initiative (SBTi) back in 2016. The company set and achieved specific goals for 2020 based on SBTi calculations. SBTi helps companies analyse their operations on the basis of scientific principles and set realistic and effective climate goals. For many years now, Swisscom has been taking action in the area of climate protection, which is summed up in the slogan “now instead of someday.”

How calculation methods support effective climate goals

The SBTi has produced figures for various industries, which show how quickly emissions have to fall in order to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. These practical calculation methods enable companies participating in SBTi to calculate how quickly they need to reduce their emissions.

Why are SBTi goals so effective?

  1. They focus on reduction. Net zero means that a company does not generate any emissions at net level. “Net” means that some of the emissions have to be offset. But the problem here is that nobody has the power to determine what proportion of the emissions will be reduced and how much is going to be offset. In theory, you could just make carbon offsetting payments and still call yourself climate neutral. Companies that sign up to SBTi are first and foremost committed to following a clear reduction path. This means that emissions must be lower by a certain per cent each year compared to the previous year.
  2. They are science-based. SBTi methods and principles are based on the 1.5-degree target and therefore ensure each goal a participating company has set is reliable and credible.
  3. They are binding. If a company wants to be part of SBTi, it is contractually obliged to set an absolute target level and a reduction path for a specific period. The company will not obtain approval if the goal is not achieved.
  4. They are extensive. The goals clearly define which direct and indirect emissions are included. SBTi does not yet fully take into account Scope 3 emissions. Swisscom is going one step further in this regard by taking into account 100% of indirect emissions in its target values.
  5. They are credible. In addition to the scientific approach, it is possible to easily compare companies’ climate goals because they are all measured against the same standard.

Measures undertaken at Swisscom

The first reduction plan Swisscom committed to in accordance with SBTi methods applied from 2013 to 2020. In 2021, Swisscom analysed its status at that point and submitted a new reduction target for 2030 to SBTi for review, with the aim of helping the company achieve net zero.

«We believe that we are a climate-neutral company because we want to do business responsibly.»

Saskia Günther, Head of Corporate Responsibility

Greenhouse gas savings were achieved in all areas within and outside the company. For example, in Scope 1, buildings are continuously renovated and energy efficiency is increased. The vehicle fleet has also been partially converted to electric and is set to be completely emission free by 2030. Scope 2 has been climate neutral for more than ten years. During this time, Swisscom has only purchased electricity from 100% renewable energy sources.

Netto Null CO2

Comparison of direct and indirect emissions since 1990. They are to be reduced to net zero by 2025.

Scope 3 is ambitious as far as indirect emissions across the supply chains are concerned. Companies have only limited influence on this because other parties are responsible for implementing the measures that have been developed. Oliver Oberli, who is responsible for sustainable procurement at Swisscom, explains the procedure:

«The circular economy offers a lot of potential in Scope 3. We are investigating which new purchases we can replace with our own recycled appliances to help save money. We have control over this. We can only influence our suppliers to a limited extent; this is all about negotiating skills. As part of the Joint Audit Cooperation (JAC) , we have collaborated with other companies in the sector so that we can achieve more as customers. We are also turning those who are affected into participants. We are raising awareness of the issue of sustainability, discussing our goals and values, and clearly stating our expectations of our business partners.»

Now is the time to set climate targets

Swisscom is not alone in its commitment. The Swiss economy is changing and the umbrella organisation Economiesuisse is also calling on companies to become more involved in sustainability issues. It is now clear that this is no longer about goodwill but simply about doing good business. 

  1. Fossil fuels will become more expensive in the long term. The switch to renewable energy is therefore also a financial consideration.
  2. Bonds and loans are issued by many banks under better conditions if a clear sustainability strategy can be demonstrated.
  3. Businesses that set themselves clear goals are one step ahead of politicians. As a result of the counterproposal to the Swiss Responsible Business Initiative, large companies must disclose their CO2 reduction targets from 2023 and show they are following a reduction path.
  4. In recent years, there has been a change in awareness among the population. At present, a credible climate goal is still a market advantage – but not for long. That’s why we think the time is now rather than someday!
Netto Null CO2

We are saving CO2 thanks to climate-friendly, innovative ICT solutions– and this figure is set to rise to 1 million tonnes by 2025.

Swisscom is supporting you on your path to climate neutrality

An important part of Swisscom’s climate strategy is our customers and their use of products and services. Emissions are generated here too, for example, in the manufacture and disposal of products, in energy consumption, in data storage and in the operation of the mobile network. Swisscom offers a broad portfolio of sustainable solutions:

  • Swisscom’s own devices, such as routers and TV boxes, have been climate neutral since 2020, as have all the company's own operations. Electricity has been sourced entirely from renewable energy sources for more than ten years.
  • Since 2022, every appliance Swisscom has sold has also been completely climate neutral. What's more, residual CO2 emissions from manufacturing, transport, use and disposal are offset at no extra cost to customers. To achieve this, Swisscom works with selected carbon offsetting partners.
  • Data stored on Swisscom Cloud is also 100% climate neutral.
  • Climate-neutral communication services (e.g. Work Smart services) provide important platforms for decentralised working, which reduces CO2 emissions by reducing commuting.

These measures enable Swisscom to help its customers to reduce their own carbon footprints. This will save one million tonnes of CO2 per year from 2025 onwards.


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