Schneider Electric's Actions to Reverse Biodiversity Loss

by Olivier Blum
Oct 23, 2020 12:00 PM ET

Sustainability at Schneider Electric

The fight for sustainability continues as governments, companies, international organizations and NGOs join forces to prioritize sustainable action. But threats still remain and cannot be overlooked – such as the fight against biodiversity loss. Without biodiversity there is no life and no business, as we heavily rely on natural resources and ecosystems.

Time for Nature

According to the IPBES[1] global assessment report, any biodiversity loss is unsustainable, and transformative changes are required to safeguard economic and social models. Major biodiversity loss undermines nature’s ability to support people and communities, a factor which strongly improves both quality of life and business prosperity.

Society has been too slow to fully grasp the impact of human activities on nature. But as we become more aware, we must maintain the momentum and act: it is time to start working together to prevent continued biodiversity loss.

Taking a science-based approach

Companies need to up their game and play a vital role in protecting and promoting biodiversity. The global ambition will be defined at the COP15 (Conference on Biological Diversity) where a global objective of “No Net Loss” is expected to be set. “No Net Loss” is the equivalent of carbon neutrality for climate, where any negative impact on biodiversity (due to economic activities) is balanced out by positive impact, such as biological restoration.

To reach these ambitious targets, the business world needs to use metrics that are quantitative, concise, easy to understand, widely applicable and that can be aggregated or dis-aggregated at multiple levels. Among the different metrics available, the MSA.km² (Mean Species Abundance per km2) has the potential to become the standard of biodiversity metrics in the same way that CO2-eq is for climate.

Such metrics, although still imperfect, allow companies to define and set their science-based objectives, and are essential to fast-track the implementation of biodiversity strategies and concrete action plans.

The first end-to-end biodiversity footprint assessment

Sustainability is a pillar of Schneider Electric’s strategy, which is why all our commitments are based on measurable and scientific hypotheses. So, when CDC Biodiversité developed their footprint assessment tool, the “Global Biodiversity Score”, we worked with them to conduct our first end-to-end footprint assessment.

The results of this study helped us understand which of our activities, and those of our supplier and customer ecosystem, have direct and indirect impacts on biodiversity. The GBS also help differentiate between positive impacts, such as reducing land use, secondary raw materials use and CO2 emissions with our technology, and negative impacts for instance from our operations, logistics, raw materials extraction and use, etc.

More than two thirds of our impact on biodiversity is due to greenhouse gas emissions. Which is why, through the lens of biodiversity, our climate change strategy has new relevance. The effect of climate change on biodiversity further inspires us to pursue our ambitious net zero emissions goals, both across our own operations and throughout our supply chain. We also strive to accelerate the adoption of our decarbonization technologies and improve on our 2019 performance, when our customers saved 45 million tons of CO2 through modernization projects.

The onus is on us

More onus needs to be on businesses and rightly so. Today, our environmental strategy allows us to mitigate our impact on biodiversity; nevertheless, I know that we can do better and there is still potential to do much more.

For instance, improvements can be made through sustainable purchasing; increased supply chain traceability would allow us to choose exactly what we buy, from whom and from where. Biodiversity is an inherently local issue and the impact of raw material extraction can vary greatly, even within the same region.

Businesses and corporations, such as ours, have a responsibility to play a major role with other stakeholders from civil society to policy makers. Let’s raise the bar on our corporate biodiversity goals and aim for “No Net Loss”.

Read in more detail:

[1]Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (November 2019)