COP28: A special Q&A with our Director of Sustainability

Springer Nature Group
By: Thea Sherer, Mon Dec 4 2023
Thea Sherer

Author: Thea Sherer

Director of Sustainability

With COP28 underway in Dubai, we took the opportunity to ask Thea Sherer, our Director of Sustainability (and Climate Action Officer) for a recap and update on what we are doing at Springer Nature to support efforts to combat climate change.*

1.            How is Springer Nature approaching climate change?

As a global publisher of trusted, peer-reviewed research as well as science news and commentary, Springer Nature works closely with the research community who have been highlighting the need for urgent action to reduce carbon emissions and transition to a just low-carbon economy for decades. Since 2015, we have published 50,000 articles relating to climate action and our aim is to make sure that this research is communicated clearly, accurately and rapidly to those that need it for evidence-based decision making. And of course, it’s important that we take action within our own business operations. In October 2023 our net zero targets were approved by the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) and we are working across the business and with suppliers to drive down the carbon emissions that are related to our publishing activities. 

2.            What’s your top best practice to solve the climate crisis?

As you would expect, for a global publisher of research, we pay close attention to what is coming through in the research. It is clear that there is no time for further delay, as we were reminded with the recent study  by Lamboll, Nicholls, Smith et al and published in Nature Climate Change, that the carbon budget may be exhausted within the next 6 years if we are to limit warming to 1.5oC1. For companies, the first step must be to baseline your carbon footprint and prioritise those areas of the value chain which are currently most carbon intensive in order to develop an action plan that is focused on reductions of carbon, rather than (for example) only offsetting. 

This year’s COP provides a new opportunity to understand the impact of actions being taken globally - through the actions of governments and international organisation - via the Global Stocktake and we hope that this will inspire more accountable and ambitious actions as a consequence. Nature Climate Change has pulled together a collection of opinion pieces and research on this theme which can be accessed here, while Nature’s most recent immersive feature asks “Is it too late to keep global warming below 1.5oC?”

3.            How is Springer Nature engaging local stakeholders in your climate actions?

As an international organisation of close to 10,000 people, Springer Nature has been measuring, monitoring and managing its carbon footprint for many years, reporting annually to stakeholders via a Sustainable Business report - this year expanded with a supplement to include Scope 3 (supply chain) footprint. Taking climate action requires the top down commitment of business leaders, but also for those working across the whole business to take a role where they can. Our internal ‘Green Office Network’ has around 250 ambassadors all around the world who advocate for climate action in local offices and operations. An employee challenge earlier this year, which asked colleagues to measure their personal carbon footprint and take steps to reduce it, saw more than 1,000 colleagues take part. And this year we have rolled out mandatory training to our whole workforce, which explains some of the climate science and how specific areas of the company are taking action. We’re also interested in how we can support the research community in reducing carbon emissions in areas where we work together - particularly when it comes to printed journals and books. 

4.            Outside of Springer Nature, what climate action inspires you?

We are fortunate to work with climate researchers all around the world and so many are truly inspirational. Like many at COP28 this year, we have worked with and been inspired in so  many ways by the work of Saleemul Huq - a true climate revolutionary - who passed away suddenly last month. We hope that the outcome of this COP will create a positive legacy, inspired by his immense dedication to equitable solutions to climate change. 

*a version of this was first published as part of a Q&AA on the COP28 website.

1. Lamboll, R.D., Nicholls, Z.R.J., Smith, C.J. et al. Assessing the size and uncertainty of remaining carbon budgets. Nat. Clim. Chang. (2023).

Thea Sherer

Author: Thea Sherer

Director of Sustainability

Thea Sherer is Director of Sustainability and Climate Action Officer at Springer Nature Group. Since 2017 she has led on sustainability strategy and corporate reporting, driving forward a programme that measures, monitors and works to improve the publishers’ environmental and social impacts.

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