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Carbon

We are committed to reducing carbon emissions across our entire value chain.

Our climate strategy covers the full value chain of emissions reductions across our own operations, our supplier base and emissions from patient use of our products. As part of our ambition to achieve net zero impact on climate by 2030, we have set the following targets for our biopharma and consumer healthcare businesses:

 

Biopharma

Consumer Healthcare

 

Scope 1 and 2 emissions

Net zero emissions across all operations by 2030

Net zero emissions across all operations by 2030

 

Renewable electricity

100% renewable electricity by 2050 (scope 2)

100% renewable electricity by 2050 (scope 2)

 

Scope 3 emissions

Net zero emissions across our full value chain by 2030

Net zero emissions for select brands/formats by 2030

The Science Based Targets Initiative has accredited that our new carbon targets align to a 1.5° pathway – in line with the most ambitious goal of the Paris Agreement. 

With our new net zero targets, we have joined the Race to Zero: a global UN campaign, which aims to build momentum around the shift to a decarbonised economy ahead of the next climate summit, COP26. Reducing energy use, and the carbon emissions associated with the energy that we purchase, is an important focus of our programme to cut environmental impacts. 

Understanding our value chain carbon footprint

We have mapped our carbon footprint across our value chain to ensure we have a clear understanding of where to focus our efforts.

GSK's value chain carbon footprint

Value chain carbon footprint

Download our detailed value chain carbon footprint PDF

Operational emissions (Scope 1 and 2)

To reduce operational carbon emissions, we will continue to accelerate our successful energy reduction programme. This includes doing on-site energy analysis to identify opportunities to drive efficiencies and save energy.

Renewable electricity

We have joined RE100 and have committed to using 100% renewable electricity by 2025. We will increase renewable electricity through on-site generation, offsite power purchase agreements and certificates, including significant new investment in wind and solar energy generation at our manufacturing sites in Scotland.

By signing up to RE100 we are committing to using electricity generated by renewable, clean sources and avoiding electricity generated by fossil fuel, which will not only reduce carbon emissions but also contribute to improving air quality and therefore respiratory health.

Ways of working

GSK will permanently change some of the ways that our people work together, following the enforced reductions in business travel as a result of COVID-19 restrictions. While we will continue to permit international business travel where necessary in future, we will also continue to promote virtual ways of working.

We have joined EV100 and will be transitioning our fleet of cars to electric or low emissions vehicles and we will increase the electric charging points we have at our sites. Increasing the use of electric vehicles reduces tailpipe emissions which not only reduces our carbon emissions but has a positive impact on human health through reducing air pollution.

We are collaborating with industry partners to investigate new clean technologies to replace use of natural gas for energy and heat production.

Green chemistry

We apply the principles of green chemistry when producing our medicines to help us reduce or eliminate hazardous chemicals from the drug development and discovery process, and produce our medicines as efficiently as possible. We research ways to replace hazardous or unsustainable chemicals with lower-impact alternatives, both internally and across our network of academic collaborations in Green and Sustainable Chemistry. We have also published a number of specialist guides that helps our scientists understand the environmental impact of different solvents and reagents - chemicals used to produce our medicines - and to encourage the use of lower-impact alternatives.

Value chain emissions (Scope 3)

A significant proportion of our carbon footprint is beyond our own operations - with our suppliers and in the patient and consumer use of our products. We will work across our full value chain to reduce carbon emissions, including building on our structured engagement programme with suppliers. 

Patient and consumer use

Around a third of the emissions across our value chain are from the propellant used when patients use our Metred Dose Inhalers like Ventolin. We need to tackle this, while balancing impact on patients. Where medically possible we will continue to encourage the transition to lower carbon inhalers such as our dry powder inhaler which have an almost zero carbon footprint. In 2017, the Carbon Trust certified the carbon footprints of all our UK respiratory inhaler products according to the Greenhouse Gas Accounting Sector Guidance for Pharmaceutical Products and Medical Devices with all Ellipta products, including Trelegy, certified in 2020. We are actively developing lower-carbon alternatives for the propellants used in our Metered Dose Inhalers like Ventolin. We have co-funded a safety and toxicology study to test a lower green-house gas propellant. In addition, our manufacturing site in France has installed technology to capture emissions of the propellant released during manufacturing enabling the recovered gas to be sent for recycling and reuse in non-medical applications as well as reducing GHG emissions.

One area that all consumer companies are finding challenging is the impact of the ‘consumer use’ phase. That means the things that are out of our control but still linked to our value chain e.g. whether a consumer turns the tap off when they are brushing their teeth. For our Consumer Healthcare business this consumer-use phase accounts for a significant proportion of emissions and this business has set a target for select brands/formats to have net zero emissions by 2030.  Since 2011 we’ve measured the carbon footprints of our biggest selling products to check where we can make the most effective reductions from emissions and to inform delivery of this target.

Suppliers

We work with EcoVadis to provide an extensive independent assessment of our third parties, assessing a range of areas including environment and sustainable procurement. If efforts fall below the standards we expect then suppliers can work with EcoVadis in order to improve their performance.

We recognise outstanding sustainability performance from our suppliers through the annual GSK Supplier Environmental Sustainability Award. These awards offer us a great opportunity to share ideas and initiatives among our suppliers in order to improve sustainability at GSK. The 2020 winners were:

  • Schneider Electric for their initiative to train local entrepreneurs living in remote areas on the use of clean energy
  • Presspart for their new way of coating the inside of inhaler canisters reducing waste and energy
  • Aptar received a special mention for their commitment to make all of their products recyclable, reusable or compostable. 

Carbon removals

We will continue to work hard on reducing carbon emissions across our operations and supply chain, in line with the Science Based Accredited Pathway. There will still, however, be some emissions that it is not possible to eliminate. We will therefore be turning to responsible and high-quality carbon removal solutions. We are committed to our role in the transition to a net zero carbon economy and GSK will aim to use removals for less than 20% of our footprint.

Carbon removal is essentially the process of capturing Carbon Dioxide from the atmosphere, and storing it (e.g. in soil, plants, trees) for as long as possible to neutralise its harmful effects.

As we continue to decarbonize our operations and supply chain, we will be partnering with organisations with expertise in carbon removal solutions who will help us shape and deliver our approach. Beyond climate, we aim to benefit both nature and health through these projects, although we know this will be harder to quantify. By working together with developers, local communities, NGOs and others, we will ensure that these projects align with our 2030 ambitions to be net zero carbon.

As we progress with this, we will continuously update our approach in line with best-practice guidance, ensuring that our carbon credits are of the highest quality and are verified by approved auditors. We will be transparent about the carbon removals projects that we engage with and will disclose our portfolio as this becomes available.

Protecting and restoring the planet’s health to protect and improve people’s health

In November 2020, we announced ambitious new environmental sustainability goals in both climate and nature. 

Read more about our new goals.