Deloitte’s traditional business model required travel. Lots of travel. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Deloitte had one of the largest airfare spends in corporate travel. Our affinity for flying wasn’t unique; in recent years, half of the top-10 airline customers booking travel in the US were professional services organizations.
Obviously, that changed last year. Deloitte significantly reduced all forms of travel during the COVID-19 pandemic and replaced it with virtual work. And because most business-to-business interactions were conducted home to home, nearly every office that would have hosted those meetings sat dormant. Our altered behaviors, combined with proactive actions taken in FY2020, caused Deloitte’s recorded carbon emissions from fleet, buildings and business travel in FY2021 to decrease 86% from prepandemic (FY2019) levels.
The changes necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic—combined with Deloitte’s ability to continue serving clients effectively despite the hurdles—caused us to reexamine how business operates. We know travel is beneficial. We know many things can be done more efficiently when people are together in the same room. We now understand, though, how Deloitte can operate differently and still maintain the same high levels of service and quality.
Our commitment to smart, purposeful travel is good news for the environment. But, it’s only part of the story.
Deloitte launched WorldClimate—our strategy to drive responsible climate choices within our organization and beyond—in FY2020 to address the world’s urgent climate crisis with achievable, measurable and science-based actions. Deloitte leaders, including the Deloitte Global Executive, committed to align with the 1.5°C decarbonization pathway because anything less ambitious will not have the necessary impact. Deloitte’s WorldClimate carbon reduction goals are validated by the Science Based Targets initiative.
WorldClimate recognizes it will take collective action to combat climate change. That’s why we have adopted a three-pronged approach—actions we take, actions we inspire our people to take, and actions we take with others in our ecosystem.
Deloitte has committed to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 for its operations. To get there, we are embedding sustainability into policies and practices throughout the organization. And we are empowering our people to make climate-friendly decisions and influence others to do the same.
Deloitte also is actively engaging ecosystems to increase demand for responsible products and services, remove roadblocks that get in the way of enacting change, and create innovative climate solutions. We help shape the climate agenda through sponsorships and projects with organizations such as the World Economic Forum; and through activities surrounding key events such as the B7, the B20 and the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
Our WorldClimate strategy complements the ever-growing breadth of sustainability services provided by Deloitte firms. Deloitte firms support more than 90% of the companies committed to RE100, a global initiative backed by the world’s most influential businesses to transition to 100% renewable electricity.
During FY2021, Deloitte firms accelerated clients’ journeys to net-zero through multiple engagements, including those that are helping design decarbonization pathways for the chemicals industry across Europe and in the US; working with retailers to eliminate food waste, design sustainable food labels and adopt more sustainable supply chain practices; and helping stakeholders understand and respond to growing climate risks. Deloitte’s Center for ESG Solutions has applied decarbonization, hydrogen, electricity and other quantitative energy models to support major sustainable energy transformation projects in Asia, Europe and the Americas. And Deloitte Consulting LLP in the US is working with the World Economic Forum to help the world transition toward net-zero, nature-positive food systems by 2030.
Deloitte continues to make significant investments in services and technology that generate social and environmental benefits. Solutions developed recently include: