A responsible company listens to its stakeholders and seeks out all available information to back up its decision making. The scientific community is one of our stakeholders. Their biggest concerns are anthropogenic climate change and the loss of biodiversity, which are two closely interlinked issues. As the sustainable use of resources is critical for UPM’s future, our climate-related targets and actions have always been based on the latest findings endorsed by the scientific community.
The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) is a joint initiative of the UN Global Compact, CDP, WRI and WWF encouraging companies to set emission reduction targets aligned with the Paris Agreement. It is a science-based initiative that assesses companies based purely on scientific research. We started our collaboration with the SBTi back in 2017, and in 2019 the initiative declared that the 30% emission reduction target we adopted in 2015 is in line with the 2 degree climate goal.
Already back then, we knew that we could do better. In January 2020, we took a further step and signed the UN Global Compact Business Ambition for 1.5°C. We were able to make this commitment thanks to the scenario analysis on forests and emissions that we carried in 2019. At the same time, we announced a stricter emission target to reduce our fossil CO2 emissions by 65% between 2015 and 2030. We applied for approval for this new target from the SBTi, for which we just received approval today. Our new target is aligned with the Paris Agreement goal to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.
Focus on forests, emissions and products
The focus of UPM’s climate actions is on forests, emissions and products. In just a few years, a lot has happened on these fronts. In 2018, we began collaborating with the Finnish Meteorological Institute to study the physical effects of climate change in Finland, Germany, China and Uruguay. The results were published as part of the Finnish Meteorological Institute’s publications series in 2019. As part of the same project, we also studied the wider impact of different emission scenarios on UPM’s operations.
During 2019, the Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE) studied the carbon balance of UPM’s forests in Finland, and this study is continuing at UPM’s plantations in Uruguay. We are also currently collaborating with the Finnish Environmental Institute (SYKE) and the German Institut für Energie- und Umweltforschung Heidelberg gGmbH (ifeu) to study the climate impact of various products. There is still much for us to learn about the role of forests and sustainable products in mitigating climate change.
As far as emissions are concerned, however, science is unequivocal. We have good science-based data enabling us to compare our total global emissions with the reduction targets that we can realistically achieve by 2030. Based on this comparison, we have engaged in extensive internal talks concerning an emission reduction level to which we can readily commit. We could have committed first and specified our targets later, but we wanted to do our own research first. The approval we received today confirms that this was a wise path to take.
Tuomas Niemi, Manager, Standards, UPM Responsibility (left)
Sami Lundgren, VP, UPM Responsibility