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AECOM is one of the two global consultancies who are founding members of the Pledge. They provide professional services for the engineering and infrastructure sector and have approximately 8,000 employees across the UK and Ireland.


Learn more about their target setting process and why they believe it is important for our sector to be taking action from Ryan Burrows, Sustainability Manager at AECOM. 

Why did AECOM sign up for the Pledge?

We signed up firstly because we believe that tackling climate change is the right thing to do, to avoid the worst impacts on the planet and society. It is also so important for our credibility as trusted advisors on decarbonisation that we go through the same challenges and successes as our clients and work out what net zero solutions work for us and how we can learn and share best practice. We help many clients set Science Based Targets, making this even more important.

What was the process like for setting your target & understanding your GHG footprint?

At first it seemed like a daunting prospect; we are a large company, use a variety of different systems globally, and carbon reporting can be a complicated area. Once we realised how many resources there were available though and that not everything had to be perfect then that made things easier. We already had decent data for our Scope 1 and 2 emissions, but the Scope 3 screening took longer as we didn’t previously look at this as closely.

What activities have you included in your scope and why?

We followed the GHG Protocol guidance and applied it to our context of a company that doesn’t own many assets and sells services rather than products. We therefore excluded certain categories that were irrelevant for this exercise e.g. those associated with goods but included others. We therefore included our fleet vehicles in Scope 1, all our office energy (rented and owned) for Scope 2, as well as supply chain emissions, fuel and energy related activities, waste generated, business travel, commuting, and investments for Scope 3.

Have you experienced any challenges in setting your target or understanding your GHG footprint and if so, how have you overcome them?

There have been a few challenges along the way. One of them has been setting an appropriate but achievable supply chain target. As our supply chain emissions are such a large part of our footprint and we have less control over it, it was difficult to understand which target would be best and how we could tackle it. We therefore chose an absolute reduction target with the plans to engage our most significant suppliers so we can achieve our target.

What actions will AECOM be taking to reduce GHG emissions?

  • Phasing out inefficient fleet vehicles

  • Pursuing vehicle emissions reduction technology options

  • Investigating electric and hybrid vehicle options

  • Right-sizing our real estate portfolio

  • Focusing on office energy efficiency and renewable energy

  • Encouraging more sustainable behaviors in our offices including with local Green Teams and through global environmental days

  • Engaging our key suppliers to get a better understanding of their GHG emissions and what their future targets are

  • Encouraging and supporting key suppliers in setting and achieving Science Based Targets

  • Continuing to embed sustainability criteria and information into our procurement practices

  • Looking at carbon offsetting for unavoidable emissions

Why do you think it is important for the environmental services sector to take action on the transition to a low carbon future?

The Environment Sector is on the front line of the challenge to tackle climate change and should be showing leadership. The Sector has a diverse client base and being able to demonstrate that we have gone through this exercise as a Sector will give credibility and confidence to us in advising clients.

Ryan Burrows

Sustainability Manager, AECOM

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Do you have anything else you would like to add?

  • Science Based Targets are a difficult thing to communicate as it’s a wordy and complicated subject, so the more you can simplify it down to climate change impact reduction and people’s everyday understanding the better.

  • Having leadership approval is going to be key from the first stage and so that it is easier for all relevant teams to support this

  • Get involved quickly, this movement is growing exponentially and so while companies like AECOM are leaders in this space we expect it to be more the norm sooner rather than later.

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