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Environmental Responsibility

Caring deeply about the environment and driving bold action towards creative solutions goes back to our founding. Back in 1976, we built a 7,000-square-foot solar-heated office building on our Cambridge, Massachusetts campus—an early indication of our commitment and creative thinking that continues today.

Making Deep Cuts in Our Emissions

We’ve set ambitious goals for cutting our carbon footprint and made progress in meeting them. By 2019, we had cut our U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 44.6 percent from our 2012 baseline. We now plan to reduce our global emissions an additional 38.6 percent by 2027 from our updated 2019 baseline—including a 33 percent reduction by 2025, in line with our five-year corporate strategy. Our new targets align with what climate science dictates is needed to meet the goal of keeping global warming to 1.5°C and to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

We submitted Abt’s new 2027 target for validation with the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi). It exceeds the minimum required 4.2 percent annual linear reduction and demonstrates our commitment to deeper, faster cuts. We continue to follow best practices by expanding the scope of our GHG inventory every target period to capture the full extent of our emissions. We now include our corporate entities in Australia and Britain, international project sites, telecommuting, and are working to expand our accounting of additional Scope 3 emission sources.

GHG Emissions Actual v. Target

What is key to sustaining this momentum?

Resolving a dilemma. Air travel is a critical business activity for our firm. It’s also what we must significantly reduce to meet our GHG reduction targets; air travel accounted for 40 percent of our emissions before the pandemic. During the pandemic, lockdowns and other travel restrictions forced us to stop traveling and re-evaluate business requirements. Air travel dropped by a stunning 91 percent without impacting the quality of our project delivery nor hindering the impact we generate for our clients and communities around the world.

This data proved that we can meet our targets and prompted us to think about strategies to use in the future. For example, we are developing an air travel emissions budget—partnering with our corporate travel agency to track each leg of a trip—which will enable us to be strategic about when and where we fly. Establishing an air travel emissions budget will help balance the need for physical connection with our clients and colleagues while achieving our 2025 GHG reduction target.

Continuing to Lead on Climate Action

We are honored to be recognized by The Climate Registry with the Climate Registered™ Platinum status for the quality of our GHG inventory and our GHG reduction target. The Climate Registry operates North America’s largest voluntary registry for GHG emissions.

To amplify our voice for climate action, we joined the Business Ambition for 1.5°C and Race to Zero campaigns—committing to target-setting in line with a 1.5°C future. It’s part of our effort to encourage ambitious momentum by business leaders to keep global warming to 1.5°C and reach science-based net-zero emissions by 2050.

We also support a net-zero future by investing in quality carbon offsets. Quality carbon offsets generate positive outcomes in the fight against climate change and create demand for regenerative and innovative projects aiming to remove carbon from the atmosphere. Recently, through the purchase of EcoAustralia™ carbon credits offered through South Pole, we offset 100 percent of our Abt Australia and Britain’s 2020-verified GHG emissions inventory.

EcoAustralia™ credits blend Gold Standard certified carbon credits with Australian government-accredited biodiversity protection, helping fund the regeneration and preservation of a rare pocket of intact traditional lands of the Ngarrindjeri people along South Australia’s Lime Coast. Abt’s participation in this program not only supports our investment in offsets, but also promotes our long-term commitment to reconciliation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as an important part of Abt Australia’s Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan.

VIDEO: Aligning offset investments for greater impact
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