Planet+ Program for Carbon Neutrality by 2022 @ SITA
As a UN Global Compact member, SITA firmly believes GHG emissions need to be reduced significantly and well ahead of 2030. SITA’s Planet+ program, is the bold initiative to become a carbon neutral certified business by 2022. It’s organized along three themes: • ‘Travel Smart’ aims to reduce our GHG footprint arising from business travels. • ‘Office Smart’ helps, reducing GHG related emissions through collaboration technology and renewable energy. • ‘Planet Smart’ uses carbon credits to offset remaining emissions; we partner with NCP to invest in credible and high-impact projects. This program provides benefits to our communities, our business, our employees and the air travel industry at large.
The Planet+ program is rooted in Goal 13, supporting SITA’s key environmental goal of reducing significantly its GHG emissions and offsetting the remaining part to become a certified carbon neutrality company by 2022. The carbon offset projects, while all also supporting Goal 13, have been selected to each support a variety of other SDGs integrating environmental, social, and economic indicators, mostly Goals 1 through 4, 6 through 12, and 15, reflecting SITA’s human and social engagement beyond environmental sustainability. The Planet+ program also contributes to institutional changes as SITA, a large and trusted presence in the air transport industry, helps push the conversation among industry stakeholders towards decarbonization.
SITA’s overall goal of carbon neutrality and efforts under the ‘Travel Smart’ and ‘Office Smart’ themes are in clear support of Goal 13. A 40% GHG emissions reduction has been reached so far, with further significant decrease planned for the near term. Under the ‘Planet Smart’ theme, we work with NCP who frame each of the carbon offset projects offered in terms of which SDGs are supported in addition to ensuring the projects align to CCB, VCS or Gold Standard. All projects support Goal 13 and all other SDGs are covered across our portfolio of projects, particularly Goal 6, Goal 7 and Goal 15.
SITA has formally reported on its environmental, economic, and social performance since 2011 using the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) disclosures framework, also serving as SITA’s communication on progress as signatories to the UN Global Compact. We have also achieved certification to ISO and other international standards for environmental considerations on sites. We took our efforts a step further in 2019, establishing a baseline carbon footprint under the Carbon Neutral Protocol that includes our Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions, from business travel and energy consumption, to shipping, waste, data centers, and electricity. Using this baseline footprint, we launched the Planet+ program. Under ‘Office Smart,’ we track energy, paper and water consumption and have started to switch to renewable energy and use smart devices to reduce consumption. Under ‘Travel Smart’, we first implemented reporting to measure our environmental impact from air travel. Second, we’ve put in place technologies reducing our own carbon footprint, such as collaboration software and videoconferencing, as a substitute to travel. Third, we implemented an internal 'carbon levy' proportionally distributed to the different areas of our business, based on their respective CO2 travel emissions, helping employees understand and act on reduction. The levy funds carbon credits to offset our emissions while investing into social and environmental programs: this is the ‘Planet Smart’ section of the program. SITA’s carbon offset program is managed through NCP, a leading global provider of sustainable environmental offset emission programs. All projects align to ICROA approved standards, support the UN SDGs, and have robust monitoring, reporting and verification by independent third parties.
Since 2018, we have achieved beyond target drops in operational energy (-15%) and business travel emissions (-10%); 6 of our main offices now run on all renewable energy; 8 use a mix of renewable energy. We expect this trend to continue as more of our offices make the switch to renewables. SITA has offset of 48’000 tons of CO2e since 2018 through projects benefitting developing communities around the world with biodiversity preservation, solar power, clean water, and digital classrooms, in support of Goals 4, 6, 7, 13, 15, and 17 in particular. So far, our carbon offset investments have resulted in: • 5,000 mangroves planted and orangutan habitats restored, Rimba Raya Reserve, Borneo • Solar powered digital classrooms built at 37 schools • 15,000 mangroves planted, Kenya • 17,500 trees planted, Uganda • Solar power, hygiene, and sanitation facilitated at 3 schools, Rwanda • Reforestation of degraded lands, Spain • 1.6 million litres of clean water delivered to 56 schools, Guatemala
We believe costs associated with carbon offsets, and emissions reductions don’t increase our costs but rather reduce them over time; delaying action will only be more financially, socially, environmentally costly. Some technological, human, industry and regulations enablers have helped the practice: • Lower energy consuming lightbulbs, temperature sensors, videoconferencing services • Corporate culture change management • Local, global and industry environmental regulations and lobbies, initially seen as challenges are actually accelerators: Paris 2050, Destination 2050, flight shaming • Ease of access to trusted projects addressing the SDGs
For the time being, we rely partly on carbon offsets to achieve carbon neutral status, however in the long run we will seek to continuously reduce our reliance on carbon offsets by decreasing emissions to the bare minimum through added use of renewable energy and circular consumption of resources. We see carbon offsets not as Band-Aid but as a short-term mitigation tool, and we truly believe that GHG emission reduction is the way forward. That being said, our program is replicable within the organizations of other industry stakeholders, and we would like to inspire them to undertake similar programs well before the well-known milestones of 2030 and 2050. Further to this program, we are embedding environmental sustainability considerations into our products and services so that the Air Transport Industry benefit from our innovation and technology to decarbonize their operations, be it at airports or from aircraft.
Despite SITA’s business and industry being severely financially impacted by COVID-19, SITA has not reduced its budget dedicated to the carbon neutrality certification nor to the carbon offset projects. Instead, SITA has accelerated the carbon neutrality certification process, now planned for January 1st 2022 and we have increased significantly our emissions reduction targets for 2021 and onwards. We truly believe that the Air Transport Industry COVID -19 recovery goes together with the decarbonization of its operations and that SDG and its beneficiaries, be it local communities, biodiversity and forests need support more than ever. COVID-19 has been an obstacle for timely implementation of some NCP programs.
Deliverables & Timeline
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The Planet+ program is implemented across SITA’s locations spanning 6 continents, with the main offices located in Switzerland, UK, Italy, USA, Canada, Singapore, Brazil, Egypt, UAE, India and Australia.