Friday, 4 November 2016

"Sustainability is embedded at the heart of our business..."

... from our vision to our values and strategy. It guides our actions and the way we work.
Or at least that's what Aggregate Industries' newly published Sustainability Report for 2015 says.


CEO François Pétry says:
As the world’s largest cement producer we have a duty to deliver world-leading sustainability, both here in the UK and globally.
Is a 2.5 million HGV miles haulage plan across Devon - equivalent to almost 4000 tonnes of CO2 or 1% of AI's total annual process emissions - really what world-leading sustainability means?

On transport, in the same report, AI claims:
We aspire to operate a logistics network that gives a better service to our customers whilst reducing costs and environmental impact. Our focus is on a sustainable transport strategy that includes an efficient fleet, better driving practices and maximising the capacity of our vehicles... Our transport emissions are at a record low of 3.02kgCO2e/tonne, a total reduction of 35% since 2012
Which is great, but when you look back to 2008, when AI's transport emissions were first made public, the reduction is a more modest 16%. During this time, process emissions, on the other hand, have risen 23%.

The Paris Agreement comes into effect today. AI's Sustainability Report 2008 said "At Aggregate Industries we believe that actions speak louder than words"; so, what is AI doing about climate change?

From the graph below, you might be forgiven in thinking not very much. Each year, as the clamour for climate action gets louder, little has changed in AI's total CO2 emissions per tonne.

* Figures taken from 2015 report, 2012 report (for 2012-2008), 2010 report (for 2007-2006), 2007 report (for earlier)


As the 'greatest threat to humanity', you'd hope that AI would take climate change seriously. But search for climate change in the 2015 Sustainability Report and, remarkably, the words appear just once; CO2 eight times, carbon 14 times. Even back in the 2007 report, the one where the Chief Executive said: "The public agenda seems almost to have been hijacked by climate change and the CO2 debate", climate gets seven mentions; CO2 16, carbon 20. The company claims:
Aggregate Industries has a continual focus on minimising the carbon footprint of our operations, increasing our use of alternative fuels, reducing waste and ensuring responsible use of natural resources.
But what has actually happened?
Absolute process carbon emissions continue to rise and are 20% above the 2012 baseline
What will AI do to turn this around?
Instead we will refocus our efforts to increase operational energy efficiency within the organisation.
How radical does that sound? How likely is it that refocusing will bring AI's emissions down - particularly when the company still has the mindset to entertain preposterous haulage plans such as the one mentioned above? 

Looking back over the years, some might accuse us of banging on quite a bit about climate change; LafargeHolcim - AI's parent - often tweets on the issue too:


But it's ironic that the linked article says:
It’s one thing to make a plan to reduce emissions, which is what happened at COP21. It’s another to say how well you’re doing on that plan.
Every year, AI talks about plans to cut carbon emissions, but the results speak for themselves.

AI's Sustainability Report 2015 was published in September 2016. AI says "We'd love to hear your comments or questions so please do get in touch". We would encourage readers to do just that. We have emailed this post to: sustainability@aggregate.com.