Planet: Creating a better normal

Among the many lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, none was more affirming than the dramatic way the planet responded to curtailed human activity. Typically obscured mountain tops were revealed. Murky waters cleared. Wildlife reclaimed habitats.

The rapid rebound opened eyes and offered hope. In research conducted by Deloitte Global, a 17-point gap that existed before the pandemic between millennials who thought we’ve reached a point of no return regarding climate and those who didn’t virtually evaporated in just four months.

Society’s brief pause not only rekindled optimism, but it also opened up new avenues for climate action. Economic recovery plans have provided opportunities for advancing climate-friendly policies and enabled lower-impact business models to emerge.

WorldClimate, Deloitte’s climate strategy, will focus on creating awareness of personal choices and changing behaviors—both within our organisation and among those we influence—to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We recognise change starts within. Deloitte must set and meet higher standards for itself, including achieving net-zero emissions by 2030, and “operating green” through new internal climate policies and practices.

As we change ourselves, we will work to change the world by empowering Deloitte people to take individual and collective climate action alongside Deloitte clients and communities. Deloitte also will engage ecosystem participants to address responsible climate choices at a systems level while we enhance Deloitte’s reputation as a thought leader and a foremost provider of climate-specific professional services.

Achieving net-zero emissions at Deloitte by 2030 requires major changes to how the organisation conducts business. We must reduce business travel in line with science-based climate methodologies. Already, Deloitte firms are considering how service delivery models can be changed building on what they have learned following the global pandemic lockdown. By 2030, we also intend to source 100% renewable energy for our buildings and convert the entire Deloitte-owned automotive fleet to low-emission vehicles. We’ll engage with Deloitte’s major suppliers to promote their adoption of science-based targets, aligned with our own net-zero ambition. And we will make investments to address unabated emissions.

“Operating green”—ensuring Deloitte policies and practices are aligned with its climate vision and strategy—is also a high priority. From procurement processes to the events Deloitte people attend, environmental impact will be considered. We will also be deepening internal conversations on Deloitte’s role in supporting a just transition to a low-carbon economy.

Business must lead and innovate through sourcing responsibly, improving efficiency, minimizing waste, designing for reuse, and bringing new products to market that promote more responsible, sustainable lifestyles.

Deloitte understands this. We also recognize the opportunity we have to equip Deloitte people with knowledge and tools they need to become agents of change. So, starting in FY2021, we will inspire all 330,000 Deloitte professionals worldwide to act to positively impact climate change. Our goal is to have them understand the power and influence they have as individuals to make responsible choices that address climate change and environmental impacts. Deloitte people ideally will be inspired to make better decisions about what they personally buy and use every day—from technology to clothing to transportation choices—and significantly reduce their individual and household impacts on the climate.

Deloitte also will actively lead, convene and participate in ecosystems of like-minded organizations, because tackling the world’s most complicated climate challenges requires teamwork on a massive scale. An outcome of one such example is UpLink—a platform developed by Deloitte, Salesforce, the World Economic Forum and other contributors that connects innovators and entrepreneurs with experts, mentors and investors so that they can collaborate to solve global challenges aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Initial focus areas for UpLink include the Ocean Solutions Sprint, which has sourced almost 50 entrepreneurial solutions from more than 15 countries; and 1t.org, an initiative to ensure the conservation and restoration of 1 trillion trees within this decade.

In FY2021, Deloitte will be exploring other ecosystem opportunities to identify where we can have additional meaningful impact. Working together with Deloitte clients, alliance cohorts, NGOs and industry groups, we hope to increase demand for responsible products and services, remove roadblocks that get in the way of enacting change, and create innovative climate solutions.

Deloitte’s WorldClimate strategy recognises the potential an organization our size has to affect the environment, and the influence Deloitte wields as a leading provider of professional services in the battle against the defining crisis of this century. When development of the strategy began, we couldn’t possibly have anticipated its unveiling would coincide with a global pandemic and the need to rebuild so many facets of society.

Because it does, Deloitte has an opportunity to not only help protect the planet for future generations, but also to lead the journey on a fundamentally different path forward—one that addresses the long-term health and resilience of planet Earth, its people and its economies.

The opportunity to create a more sustainable world is at our collective fingertips. We all are compelled to act.