Taking the lead with science-based targets

Published 24 January 2018
In December 2017, Stora Enso became the first forest products company to set ambitious science-based targets for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions throughout the company’s value chain. The targets were approved by the Science Based Targets initiative.
With the targets, Stora Enso commits to reducing the GHG emissions from our operations by 31% per tonne of pulp, paper, and board produced by 2030, compared to a 2010 baseline. To reduce emissions elsewhere in our value chain, we also commit to ensuring that 70% of our non-fibre suppliers and downstream transportation suppliers in terms of spend set their own GHG reduction targets by 2025, and towards the aim that they adopt science-based GHG reduction targets by 2030. In addition, by training all 100% of our customer-facing staff on the advantages of setting science-based targets by 2020, we look forward to sharing our experiences with our customers.

We talked to Noel Morrin, EVP Sustainability, about how Stora Enso plans to reach these ambitious targets.

Q: What is a science-based target?

Noel Morrin (NM): Science-based targets are set in line with the ambitions defined by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). By achieving such a target, a company will be doing its share to keep the global average temperature increase well below 2°C – the limit set for global warming by the Paris Agreement. Our target has been reviewed and approved by the partners behind the Science Based Targets initiative: the UN Global Compact, WWF, CDP, and the World Resources Institute.

Q: How will you achieve these targets?

NM: For over a decade we have been actively reducing the energy intensity of our operations and our dependence on fossil fuels. As a company operating in a bioeconomy and using renewable raw materials, we are in a unique position to take the next step – as the first in our industry. The new targets cover emissions from our own operations, but also include engagement targets for our partners throughout the value chain.

In practice, the targets mean we will reduce our fossil carbon emissions by further improving the energy efficiency of our production processes, and by replacing fossil fuels with biomass fuels from sustainable sources. We will also explore our options to reduce indirect GHG emissions related to the electricity we purchase. And we will actively engage with our suppliers to get them involved.

Q: The target is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from your operations by 31% by 2030 from the 2010 baseline. How much is this in terms of tonnes of emissions?

NM: The target is normalised to our production levels. If we make calculations using production levels from 2010, we will need to reduce our absolute emissions by about 1.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, mostly in the form of carbon dioxide.

Q: What other greenhouse gases do you emit than carbon dioxide – and how much?

NM: We also emit small amounts of methane and nitrogen oxides. In total, these gases contribute to about 4% of our total GHG emissions.

Q: What will the engagement target for your partners mean in practice?

NM: For our suppliers, this means we will increase their awareness of science-based targets and encourage them to set their own targets. We will also inform our customers about the advantages of setting science-based targets. Though we are prepared to lead the way in reducing emissions, we acknowledge that it is not enough for a single company to try to combat global warming alone. We want to make a difference through our entire value chain.

Q: What will you do if your suppliers refuse to set their own targets?

NM: One objective of this target is to increase our suppliers’ awareness of global warming and what they can do to mitigate it. We doubt that any of our suppliers will simply refuse to contribute, although for some of them the road from awareness-building to action may be long and take time.

Q: How will you help your suppliers to set their own targets?

NM: We already provide our suppliers with useful tools relating to sustainability topics, such as our Supplier Code of Conduct guidelines. We will update these tools so that they support suppliers’ efforts to set GHG emission targets.

Q: Is it possible that you could fail to reach your targets?

NM: Yes, we could fail, but the modelling work we have done indicates that we have a good chance of success. We have been actively reducing our fossil CO2 emissions for more than a decade so we have good experience over many years. Nevertheless, we feel that it is vital to start working towards these ambitious targets, together with our partners, to maintain our leadership and access to new technologies and processes.