April 4, 2022

62% fewer emissions at Ramboll: Evidence that companies can grow while slashing their carbon footprint

Due to reduced business travel during the pandemic, Ramboll’s own CO2 emissions dropped by 62% from 2019-2021. Here’s what we learned – and how we are building on these gains in our updated travel policy.

In 2021, Ramboll’s operations led to 16,170 tonnes of CO2 emissions. But just two years before, in 2019, this number was 43,586 tonnes of CO2, meaning a reduction of 62% from 2019 to 2021.
One tonne of CO2 is equivalent to a return flight from Paris to New York. This example is apt since most of the reduction has been due to reduced business travel during the pandemic.
“During the pandemic we have collaborated with clients and partners on Zoom and Teams, rather than in person. Since most of our own emissions come from business travel, this has been really positive news for the climate,” says Neel Strøbæk, Senior Group Director for Sustainability & Corporate Responsibility in Ramboll. “This is clear proof that we can reduce emissions while remaining highly competitive.”
In 2021, Ramboll reported our highest ever revenue and operating profit, while operating margin was the highest since 2010.
What we do to reduce emissions
What will it take to retain these gains – and should we expect emissions to rise again in 2022?
“Emissions will likely rise again in the short term, but not to the levels we saw in 2019. We continue to take steps to reduce our own emissions and avoid reverting to ‘business as usual’. We will naturally continue to meet our clients as often and wherever needed, but in our coming updated travel policy we encourage employees to be mindful when travelling, particularly for internal purposes; meeting virtually and choosing low-carbon transport when possible,” Neel Strøbæk says.
The policy, due to be published soon, prompts employees to consider the environmental impact of business travel and opt for virtual meetings where feasible. When travelling, employees are encouraged to use greener options such as public transportation, and air travel should only be used when a practical and cost-effective alternative is not available.
In addition, Ramboll has set targets to ensure our local offices around the world use low-carbon alternatives to fossil fuels. This includes powering our offices with renewable energy and switching our fleet pool to electric vehicles.
These initiatives support our Science Based climate targets, which are consistent with reductions required to keep global warming at 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
Towards net zero
Under the Science Based Targets initiative, Ramboll has short-term committed to:
  • Reducing absolute scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas* (GHG) emissions 46.2% by 2030 from a 2019 base year
  • Reducing absolute scope 3 GHG emissions from business travel 27.5% within the same timeframe
  • Ensuring 80% of our suppliers, as measured by emissions covering purchased goods and services, have Science Based targets by 2025.
We have also committed ourselves to setting a year for our Net Zero ambition across scope 1, 2 and 3. By 2030, we aim to achieve net zero in operations.
What impact will this have on clients? Should we expect to see you less in person?
“We will of course continue to travel, especially to meet clients. We need to meet clients in person, and the same goes for meetings between Ramboll employees and managers. The key thing here is ensuring we always look for greener alternatives. And I think the pandemic taught us all that we shouldn’t be afraid to use online collaboration tools.”
“Our new way of working proves we can still be effective despite travelling less, with the added benefit for some of our colleagues that they will spend less time in airports and fewer days away from their families,” Neel Strøbæk says.
*Scope 1 emissions are direct greenhouse gas emissions that occur from sources that are controlled or owned by an organisation, while Scope 2 emissions are indirect greenhouse gas emissions from purchase of electricity, steam, heat, or cooling. Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions arise from assets not owned or controlled by an organisation, but that the organisation indirectly impacts in its value chain. Business travel also falls under scope 3 emissions.
To contact the editor of this article, please email Anders Brønd Christensen .