Every year, on April 22nd, Earth Day provides a moment to raise awareness of the importance of environmental protection. More than 1 billion people get involved in some way, aiming to drive positive action for the planet.
This week, we are proud to announce that Springer Nature is the first publisher to join The Climate Pledge, a global movement of companies committed to be net-zero carbon by 2040 - a decade ahead of the Paris Agreement’s goal of 2050.
Signatories of The Climate Pledge agree to measure and report greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on a regular basis, implement decarbonization strategies; and neutralize remaining emissions through quality offsetting schemes.
Taking action on climate change is important to many of us at Springer Nature. As publishers of important research on climate change impacts, mitigation and adaptation, through journals such as Nature Climate Change (which celebrates its 10th anniversary this month), we can’t shy away from the evidence and know that we need to play our part.
Earlier this month, we launched Springer Nature’s 2020 Sustainable Business Report. This is our fourth annual report on the company’s environmental and social impact, where we report on carbon emissions amongst other indicators. We were pleased to confirm in this most recent report that in 2020 Springer Nature became, for the first time, net carbon neutral for emissions related to our offices, fleet and flights. We did this by purchasing green energy, reducing our energy consumption and by offsetting other carbon emissions.
COVID of course had an impact in 2020, with dramatically reduced business flights and office closures contributing to significant reductions in our carbon emissions. With many offices and warehouses closed or having restricted occupancy, total energy use in our buildings decreased by 18% compared with 2019. Emissions related to business travel fell by 78%, and fleet vehicle emissions dropped by 44%. Together these changes were responsible for a 59% reduction in our gross carbon footprint before the purchase of green electricity and renewable electricity certificates (RECs) is accounted for, compared with 2019.
We now purchase green electricity - either directly through the supplier or indirectly using renewable energy certificates, for around 140 sites across 38 countries.
For other emissions that we are not yet able to reduce in other ways, we have purchased offsetting certificates to compensate for this carbon. For this we work with a project in Nicaragua called CommuniTree and our support in 2020 has led to the planting of more than 37,000 trees - over an area equivalent to 82 football fields - and more than 300 workshops and training for communities who are leading on reforestation projects in their local area.
With thanks to the great efforts that the production and procurement teams have put in over the last few years, we have also made great strides in ensuring that the paper used for our books and journals comes from sustainable sources. We expect our print suppliers to adhere to our paper policy and are able to report that amongst surveyed printers compliance with this policy is now 98% (up from 90% in 2019).
Responsibility is a central value for Springer Nature and we are committed to taking action on our operational impacts, while we continue to publish and share widely the work that the research community are leading which will - we hope - help ensure that a net zero future is possible for all of us.
You can find out more in our Sustainable Business report.