BLOG: Achieving mission possible, together

How is Carlsberg driving the net-zero agenda, and how is the current climate going to impact change policy, company strategies and the net-zero agenda? These are just some of the things our Sustainability Manager Peter Statham explores in this op-ed piece for Edie's Mission Possible 2020 report.

At Carlsberg, we are brewers at heart, focussed on making high quality beer for beer-lovers everywhere. However, making great beer isn’t just about great quality brews. We face global challenges of climate change, water scarcity, and – more relevant than ever – public health. We want to make beer while taking action to tackle these, and challenging the status quo. We do this by looking beyond our own business and operations, and most importantly collaborating with others to have the greatest impact possible.

We launched our global sustainability plan in 2017 in recognition of that – Together Towards ZERO. We have four key ambitions: ZERO carbon footprint, ZERO water waste, ZERO irresponsible drinking and ZERO accidents culture.

On the way to ZERO we became one of the first businesses to set science-based targets to the more ambitious, 1.5˚C level, of the Paris Climate Agreement. We’ve invested in the latest innovative technology at our breweries – like a total water recycling plant to take water use from 2.9hl/hl to just 1.4. We have a team of postdoctoral researchers focused specifically on how to reach zero carbon and zero water waste. We’ve launched and continue to develop innovations in packaging that will transform the way people drink beer. And we’ve made steady progress in transitioning to low-carbon, sustainable energy, with over half of our total electricity consumption coming from renewables while cutting our emissions by 30% since 2015.

We’re just getting started, but we did not achieve any of this alone. Collaboration is at the centre. And in the ten years left to reach our targets, there will be many more examples to come.

The world today is very different to just a few weeks ago following the outbreak and devastation of the Coronavirus pandemic. While it’s too soon to predict its impact on government legislation and regulations towards net zero, it has demonstrated the incredible pace and scale of progress that can be achieved through collaboration as every industry and sector joins in a way not seen since wartime.

At Carlsberg, we’ve experienced first-hand how enormous challenges can inspire innovation and collaboration. My colleagues in breweries around the world have transformed their operations and collaborated with others to help meet the massive demand for much-needed hand sanitiser. Others, including our Northampton brewery in the UK, have donated funds to support their local communities. And the Carlsberg Foundation, our majority shareholder, has committed over £11 million to support research into the virus, and the art museums and civil society affected at this time – all aiming to ensure a faster solution and an effective recovery.

We are playing just a small part. And there are many more inspiring examples from across every industry around the world – collaborating for a better tomorrow. We can only hope that once we’re through this, the spirit of innovation and collaboration will continue, so that we can tackle the global challenges we face together, on the way towards zero.