New Study by My Green Lab Finds That Just 4% of Biotech & Pharma Companies Currently on Track to Meet Paris 2030 Climate Goals

Industry Currently Produces Higher CO2 Emissions than Forestry & Paper and Semiconductor Industries
Nov 4, 2021 12:00 PM ET

GLASGOW, Scotland, November 4, 2021 /3BL Media/ - My Green Lab, the leading global non-profit organization committed to sustainability in science, announced that the Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical sector is among the world’s largest carbon emitters—based on a new study released at COP 26 on November 5th, as part of the WHO COP 26 Health Pavilion. The study shows that of the world’s largest publicly-traded biotech and pharmaceutical companies, only 4% have climate commitments that align with the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to limit warming to 1.5°C. More ambitious targets must be set, and the industry must take rapid and measurable actions to reduce their emissions.

"While some leading companies are making bold, ambitious commitments to zero carbon, the rest of the industry is lagging”, said James Connelly, the CEO of My Green Lab. "The next ten years, which is approximately the time it takes to bring a successful drug to the market, will be a critical period for biotech and pharma. By deploying the very culture that brings life-saving innovations to climate change, we believe science can and must lead the world in combating global climate change, starting with reducing their own footprint."

About the Study

The study finds that the global biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry has a carbon footprint larger than the semiconductor industry, the forestry and paper industry, and equal to nearly half the annual emissions of the United Kingdom. This evaluation includes only publicly traded companies—the total emissions inclusive of all other contributors within the industry are certain to be much higher. Within the biotech and pharma carbon footprint, indirect emissions from the value chain (or ‘Scope 3’ emissions) are nearly five times larger in total than those directly controlled by a company. Therefore, a critical part of the solution will require companies to carefully quantify their emissions up and down their respective supply chains and leverage their purchasing power to motivate their suppliers and customers to reduce their own impacts.

“Urgentem is proud to be partnering with My Green Lab at this report. Utilizing the Urgentem emissions dataset and climate analytical tools, this study highlights the scale of the decarbonization challenge that the pharma and biotech sectors face to achieve their climate ambition of aligning to a 1.5°C world”, stated Girish Narula, the CEO of Urgentem.

My Green Lab Certification and the ACT® Label are examples of common industry-wide frameworks that are crucial tools for turning commitments into measurable outcomes. They provide a roadmap of practical opportunities for companies, scientists, and suppliers to take positive actions. Among other impact categories, My Green Lab Certification focuses on reducing energy consumption for Scope 1 and 2 emissions through improvements in laboratory operations, as well as the laboratories that a company contracts within its supply chain. The ACT Label program empowers companies to reduce their lab suppliers' impact by providing the transparency and third-party verification necessary to identify and select lower-emission products.

In recognition of its potential for impact, My Green Lab Certification was recently selected as a key indicator of progress for the UNFCCC High-Level Climate Champions’ 2030 Breakthroughs campaign. This campaign has established critical breakthrough outcomes, measurable industry targets for turning commitments into action. The 2030 Breakthrough Outcome states “95% of labs across major pharma and med-tech companies are My Green Lab certified to the green level by 2030”. Achieving that Breakthrough outcome, along with other decarbonization strategies, will be crucial to ensure that the industry progresses along its pathway to a net-zero future.

About My Green Lab

My Green Lab® is a non-profit environmental organization with a mission to build a global culture of sustainability in science. The organization is the world leader in developing internationally recognized sustainability standards for laboratories and laboratory products—bringing sustainability to the community responsible for the world's life-changing medical and technical innovations. Laboratories are some of the most resource-intensive spaces in any industry, but they don't have to be. By introducing a new perspective and proven best practices within a carefully crafted framework, My Green Lab has inspired tens of thousands of scientists and lab professionals to make positive changes in their labs by reducing the environmental impact of their work.

My Green Lab Certification is the global gold standard for laboratory sustainability best practices and the cornerstone of My Green Lab’s mission to build a global culture of sustainability in science. Selected as a key indicator of progress for the UNFCCC High-Level Climate Champion’s 2030 Breakthrough campaign, the program covers fourteen topics including energy, water, waste, chemistry/materials, and engagement. It provides both scientists and the teams that support laboratories with actionable strategies to make real and impactful environmental changes. To date, My Green Lab has supported over 700 labs worldwide, engaging over 5,000 scientists from 30 different countries.

The ACT® Environmental Impact Factor Label is the world’s premier eco-label for laboratory products. The ACT program ensures Accountability, Consistency, and Transparency in the reporting of environmental impact data in order to enable sustainable laboratory procurement. It was designed by both scientists and procurement specialists to provide clear, third-party verified information about the sustainability profile of laboratory products. By providing needed transparency around manufacturing, energy and water use, packaging, and end-of-life impacts, ACT makes it easy to choose environmentally preferable products and to reduce the carbon impact of laboratory supply chains.

About Urgentem

My Green Lab based this evaluation on reported and modeled emissions data through a partnership with Urgentem—an award-winning independent provider of emissions data, climate risk analytics, and advisory services. Urgentem’s datasets are used primarily by financial institutions such as the European Central Bank for Climate Stress Testing and other public bodies.