GSK first company to get global climate change certification

March 30, 2011
GlaxoSmithKline solar panel installation
The Carbon Trust has awarded the world's first global climate change certification to GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the global research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare company, for measuring, managing and reducing its global carbon footprint.

The Carbon Trust assessed and certified GSK's carbon footprint over a three year period across 65 countries, 200 sites and eight business divisions. In total, 2.2M tons CO2-equivalent emissions were measured, and more than 84,000 tons of cut from GSK's footprint, saving GBP3.8 million (USD6.12 million) in energy costs.

The certified reduction reinforces GSK's aim for its operations and value chain to be carbon neutral by 2050.  This aspiration means there will be no net greenhouse gas emissions from manufacturing, distribution, use and disposal of GSK products and the sourcing of raw materials.  Interim targets have been set to reduce GSK's overall carbon footprint by 10 percent by 2015 and 25 percent by 2020.

GSK achieved a four percent reduction in absolute terms from its carbon footprint.  The reduction was achieved alongside a 17 percent revenue increase per ton of CO2 over the assessment period, demonstrating that carbon emissions reduction can be achieved in parallel with business growth.

The company has created a central fund to support the implementation of climate change projects. Key investments to date include:

  • Renewable Energy Generation. Wind turbines have been installed at GSK's Barnard Castle facility in the UK and the company recently installed North America's largest rooftop solar array at its regional distribution center in York, Pennsylvania. Almost 11,000 solar panels will generate approximately 3.4 million kWh of energy a year, enough to completely meet the building's energy needs, and eliminate 1,800 tonnes of CO2 emissions per annum.

  • A unique 'canal water cooling' system at GSK House, to use canal water as a heat sink for the chiller system that supports its IT data centers

  • Energy efficient LED lighting has been installed at five sites, eliminating more than 143 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.

  • Business Travel. GSK has made a significant investment in videoconferencing systems, with over 500 video-conference rooms in 65 countries. In 2010, there was a 40 per cent increase in the use of videoconferencing compared to 2009.

  • Between 2007 and 2009, reductions in electricity use alone saw its carbon footprint fall by over 50,000 tons.

"The experience of striving for carbon accreditation in the UK was hugely beneficial - from a financial, ethical, operational and reputational point of view and demonstrated the value of applying for the Carbon Trust Standard on a multi-country basis," said Richard Pamenter, head of sustainability at GSK.

"Not only did the scale of the project set a new benchmark for carbon reduction amongst businesses but the extent of our cuts proves that it is possible to achieve a meaningful reduction in emissions."

The award is also a major milestone for the Carbon Trust Standard, an independent certification scheme that requires firms to report and reduce their emissions year-on-year over a period of at least two years.

The not-for-profit company, backed by the UK government, is currently involved in a major international expansion drive having recently opened offices in China, Australia and the US, and is keen to position the Standard as a useful certification for multinationals around the world.

"Climate change is a global challenge so it is right that companies act to address their whole global carbon footprint. This is a first and we are confident that GSK's international lead will be followed by other companies, both large and small, that operate around the world," said Harry Morrison, general manager, the Carbon Trust Standard.

"GSK joins a burgeoning group of over 500 organizations to demonstrate their contribution to meeting our climate change goals by achieving the Carbon Trust Standard."