By Gary Symons
TLL Editor in Chief
The world’s largest toy company, LEGO, says it will achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050.
It’s a major step on the way to combatting climate change, which this year has led to major disasters, droughts, crop failure, as well as thousands of deaths around the world.
Climate change scientists, the United Nations and the International Panel on Climate Change have all warned that quick and dramatic action is needed to stave off much worse impacts from global warming. Currently, the world is not on track to meet the IPCC target of keeping global warming below 1.5-degrees Celsius, which would avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
However, LEGO has joined the list of industry giants pledging to eliminate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions completely as part of its continued efforts to reduce environmental impact.
“Our immediate priority is to meet our 2032 carbon reduction targets and we’re making progress across a range of initiatives,” said LEGO CEO Niels B Christiansen. “This new, long-term goal will ensure that the decisions we make today will reduce our carbon footprint over the coming decades. It will also encourage future generations of LEGO employees, partners and suppliers to continue working with a sense of urgency to reduce the environmental impact of our business.
“We know that children are looking to us to do what’s right,” Christiansen added. “Caring for the environment is one of their top concerns and we receive hundreds of letters a year with great ideas from kids on how we can make a difference. They are holding us to account, and we must set ambitious goals and take meaningful and lasting actions to protect their futures.”
The company has submitted its intention to the Science Based Target initiative (SBTi) and will work with the SBTi to develop a target which will cover Scope 1, 2 & 3 emissions.
Scope 1 would include elimination of any direct emissions from LEGO factories, offices, stores and
Scope 2 includes elimination of any indirect emissions from energy used to power LEGO factories, offices, stores and vehicles
Scope 3 could be the most difficult, as it includes emissions from LEGO Group suppliers and partners.
The climate pledge is an extension of LEGO’s existing near-term climate target to reduce GHG emissions by 37% by 2032 from a 2019 base, which was previously approved by the SBTi.
The LEGO Group says it will seek to work with the SBTi to develop the net-zero target over the next two years, while simultaneously developing a climate transition plan demonstrating a roadmap to achieving the target.
Reducing emissions will not be cheap, and LEGO Group says it plans to triple its current investment in environmental sustainability over the next three years, particularly in areas that will help reduce GHG emissions. That will require spending more than $1.4 billion on sustainability-related activities.
LEGO has not completed its roadmap to eliminating all GHG emissions, but it has identified the areas where it most needs to invest in order to meet the 2050 target. They include:
- Designing buildings and sites to be carbon neutral run. Factories and buildings will be designed and constructed to the highest environmental standards. LEGO is currently building two factories which are designed to be carbon neutral. The company will try to secure Gold LEED certification as the baseline standard on all new factories and buildings on its global campus.
- Increasing capacity and production of renewable energy at LEGO sites.
LEGO is going into the power business, as it plans to reduce absolute emissions across manufacturing, stores and offices through increasing production of renewable energy in its factories, and buying renewable energy for factories, offices and stores.
- Taking CO2 emissions into account across all business decisions. This includes Shadow Carbon Pricing on key investments. LEGo will be introducing what it calls Carbon KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) which will mean reducing emissions will be tied to executive remuneration from 2024 and onward. Employees will be required to put forward responsible travel policies to reduce the amount of employee travel, especially international air travel.
- Joining forces with suppliers to collectively reduce environmental impact. LEGO says 98% of its GHG emissions come from outside its operations, most of it from LEGO’s supply chain. “We continue to work with our suppliers, via our long-standing Engage-to-Reduce programme which was established in 2014, to collectively lower their environmental impact,” LEGO says.
In addition, the company says will also continue to invest in initiatives to reduce carbon globally that may not count towards achieving the SBTi-approved target at this stage. This includes exploring compensation actions, such as supporting carbon capture programs, and scaling up a mass balance approach to reduce reliance on fossil fuels as a raw material.
“Our first priority is to measurably reduce our carbon emissions, but the challenge is vast, and we are taking steps across all areas of our business to reduce our environmental impact,” Christiansen said.