In the past year or so, Novartis has focused on better governance by tightening its ethics standards. Now the Swiss pharma is also working to improve its corporate image from an environmental perspective.
Novartis aims to become carbon neutral across its supply chain by 2030, replacing a previous goal targeting a carbon reduction of 50% from a 2016 baseline. And the supply chain goal comes on top of its target for carbon neutrality within its own operations by 2025. In the first half of 2020, the company had reduced or offset 14% of the carbon emissions within its own operations or from its power sources, Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan told investors Tuesday.
To achieve its 100% carbon-neutral ambition, Novartis has committed to reducing absolute carbon emissions by 35% across its value chain before any offsets. While cutting back on output by adopting renewable energy sources and other measures, the company also uses carbon sequestration projects to balance out whatever greenhouse gas emissions are left.
These include Novartis-owned forestry projects in Argentina, China, Colombia and Mali. Through the Santo Domingo site in Argentina alone, which Novartis started in 2007, the company said it will collect about 600,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalents by 2020 and up to 2 million tons by 2040.
In addition, in 2019, a wind farm in Texas has helped offset all the drugmaker’s purchased electricity in the U.S., and it’s planning a similar strategy in Europe.
Besides, the company also factors a $100-per-ton price for carbon dioxide into determining the financial impact of greenhouse gas emissions from major investments. “This is important as it is more effective to build in energy efficiency from the beginning than to redesign an existing system,” the company states on its website.
Novartis renewed its carbon commitment months after fellow Big Pharma company AstraZeneca updated its own.
In January, AstraZeneca unveiled an ambitious goal to achieve zero carbon emissions from its operations by 2025. To get there, the British firm’s investing up to $1 billion. It will shift all its energy consumption to renewable sources, including using electric cars, develop new respiratory inhalers that have no negative impact on global warming, and plant 50 million trees over the next five years.
And in a bolder move than Novartis’ carbon neutrality by 2030 goal, AstraZeneca hopes to become carbon negative along its value chain by that same date.
The global environmental impact-focused nonprofit organization CDP gives Novartis a climate change score of A-, while AstraZeneca boasts an A.
Besides decarbonization, Novartis also aims to be plastic neutral by 2030, which means the weight of plastic packaging entering the environment for disposal is roughly the same as the weight being recovered by recycling.