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Zoe Lang

Quality of Life

Why it’s more important than ever to keep a focus on climate change

In recognition of World FM Day 2020’s theme of ‘celebrating the environment’, Sodexo’s head of energy and sustainability services, Zoe Lang, explains why it’s important to keep a focus on energy commitments as we adapt to a ‘new normal’,

Zoe Lang

Before the Covid-19 crisis, barely a week went by without hearing a news story about climate change and the need to act now to protect the planet for future generations.

While this has understandably fallen down the news agenda, worldwide lockdown has seen carbon emissions fall sharply and air quality improve in cities around the world.

As the world starts to ease lockdown measures and people return to work, it’s encouraging that environment ministers around the world, who were due to descend on Glasgow in November for the now-postponed UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), are working together to ensure that climate change is woven into the solution to the Covid-19 economic crisis. 

This is important because the UK has an ambitious target to reach, as the first major country to commit to achieving ‘net zero’ in carbon emissions by 2050.

The target will require the UK to bring all greenhouse gas emissions, from the likes of coal, oil and gas, to net zero by 2050, compared with the previous target of at least 80% reduction from 1990 levels.

The Government says that ‘net zero means any emissions would be balanced by schemes to offset an equivalent amount of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, such as planting trees or using technology like carbon capture and storage.’

According to environmental group Friends of the Earth, there are a number of areas that will help the UK achieve this target. These include measures such as expanding the use of electric vehicles; moving away from fossil fuel sources and towards solar, wind and hydro energy generation; reducing food waste and supporting sustainable diets; and removing single use plastics.

Already, Sodexo is at the forefront of areas such as these through our Better Tomorrow 2025 sustainability strategy, focusing on reducing the carbon emissions of our operations and proactively improving the amount of waste we produce. By committing to the targets of Better Tomorrow 2025, we collectively help the transition to net zero and the ambitions of the UK Government.

We are also helping our clients to reduce the impact of their operations on the environment, providing expertise as well as products and services to enable effective energy management.

We have already worked with several clients to install LED lighting, which can reduce electricity bills by up to 70%. We’ve introduced a new product which improves the efficiency of oil-based heating and cooling systems, and we’re assisting clients who want to use onsite solar panels to generate electricity.

We’re also supporting clients with their Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR), which is the UK Government’s new legislation programme replacing the Carbon Reduction Commitment. This applies to large companies and it is thought that the penalties for not meeting the legislation will include significant fines and ‘naming and shaming’ non-compliant organisations.

It’s easy to overlook the small actions that can have a dramatic impact on the environment, but we all have a part to play. A study by energy supplier OVO found that if every adult in the UK sent one less ‘thank you’ email a day, we would save more than 16,443 tonnes of carbon per year. That’s the equivalent of taking 3,334 diesel cars off the road!

As the world adapts to new ways of working, socialising and travelling, we have a unique opportunity to accelerate our shift towards net-zero carbon and reduce our environmental impact if we all keep climate change at the forefront of our thoughts.

Contact our business development team to find out more Sodexo’s Energy and Sustainability Services

About the author:
Zoe is Sodexo’s head of energy and sustainability and was responsible for the development of the company’s energy management service offering.  

Zoe is experienced in developing and implementing energy strategy, energy reporting and auditing, waste management auditing. 

With a BSc in Combined Sciences and Masters in Sustainability (environmental consultancy & project management) Zoe has a strong theoretical background in sustainability and technical understanding of environmental science, and has used these strengths to drive environmental improvement and compliance.

May 13, 2020

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