Business will have to take radical steps to mitigate climate change. Let’s start with renewable energy. It’s good for the planet and is the rational economic choice.
The planetary case for deploying renewable energy is clear. Society must limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels to avoid uncontrolled climate impacts. A radical decarbonization of how we produce and consume energy can help meet that target.
Further to the planetary case, the business case for transitioning to renewables is equally strong. It is now cheaper to build and operate offshore wind farms in Europe than new-built power stations running on coal, gas or nuclear. In the USA, new built onshore wind is cheaper than new built gas- and- coal fired plants, while new utility-size solar is cheaper than coal. Businesses can play a vital role to keep us below the 1.5°C threshold through scalable, affordable and innovative solutions.
Transformational change is possible
Just over a decade ago, Ørsted (formerly known as DONG Energy) was one of the most coal-intensive utilities in Europe. Pressure on our bottom-line, coupled with a growing societal focus on climate change, led Ørsted to transform its business model from black to green energy. Since then, we have converted our coal-fired power stations to run on sustainable biomass, divested our upstream oil and gas business, and established ourselves as the world’s largest developer of offshore wind farms.
Ørsted’s greenhouse-gas emissions have fallen by more than two-thirds since 2006, and we expect to be essentially carbon-free in energy generation by 2025. By then, we will bring renewable energy to more than 30 million people, up from 12 million people today. The company’s offshore wind farms help avoid more than 6 million tons of carbon emissions every year and, collectively, create 180,000 job years throughout their life cycle. In 2018, we reported all-time high earnings of approx. USD 4.6bn.
By prioritizing transformational rather than incremental change, we have become financially robust while helping tackle the societal challenge of climate change.
A world that runs entirely on green energy
Towards 2025, Ørsted aims to invest $30 billion exclusively in energy from renewable sources to accelerate the global transition in line with our company vision of a world that runs entirely on green energy.
We want to reach our vision in a sustainable way and are committed to running our business in a way that progresses action on the Global Goals, with a focus on Clean and affordable energy, Decent work and economic growth, and Climate action.
As we further our transformation, we must seek ways to ensure our performance continues to be forward-looking and develops within planetary boundaries. The Future-Fit Business Benchmark tool is enabling us to map and understand how our performance aligns with the required behaviour for future-fitness.
Join us at SB 2019 Paris to learn more about Ørsted’s transformation and how we measure, benchmark and demonstrate good sustainability performance in our effort to become Future-Fit.
Maria Virginia Dundas is Lead Sustainability Advisor in Group Sustainability at Ørsted