We see two big environmental challenges facing the planet. The first is climate change and the second is resource use.
Climate change impacts such as extreme weather patterns and water scarcity affect people everywhere, with developing countries the most vulnerable. We operate in more than 70 countries and we are seeing a growing global recognition of the effects of climate change whether from our investors or by policymakers and how this is starting to change the business landscape. New regulations are emerging – as are the expectations of the people who work at Pearson and who buy our products and services.
The second challenge is lack of resources. A growing population means more people and more competition for food, water, energy and natural resources. WWF has estimated that on current projections, humanity will need at least two planets’ worth of natural resources by 2050. All countries have legitimate aspirations to grow and provide opportunity, but that they do so in a sustainable fashion, should be of deep concern to us all.
In the context of this bigger picture, a challenge for educators is how to be effective in helping people to learn to think critically and to find solutions to difficult problems as well as helping foster the leadership necessary to apply this knowledge to drive change. Pearson, as the world’s largest learning company, has a role to play in this change not least as the quality of education outcomes is crucial to equip people with the necessary skills.
However, we cannot forget our own environmental footprint. Although it is relatively small compared to that of many industries, reducing our impact is both good for the planet and can often also deliver business benefits. Our two environmental priority issues are climate change and resource use. Both reflect our concern for good environmental stewardship which is shared by many of our stakeholders.
Our full environmental report is available in downloads.
Climate change remains a focus for us as one of the most serious issues facing the planet. Minimising our own environmental impact is not just the right thing to do; it is fundamental to our future as a sustainable business and helps deliver cost savings.
We continue to be climate neutral, a commitment which focuses the company on carbon reduction. 2012 environmental highlights were:
- Pearson was named the 32nd largest purchaser of renewable energy in the United States in the US Environmental Protection Agency Green Power Partnership list. We offset 100% of the electricity we use in North America through the purchase of wind power credits from across the United States and have invested in a project to install solar panels in schools in California. Our UK buildings – where we are responsible for purchasing utilities – are also powered by green electricity.
- Pearson came top in the 2012 Corporate Renewable Energy Index (CREX) produced by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. We were one of 35 global companies to achieve a maximum score of 100%.
- We have been accredited against the Carbon Trust Standard globally – one of only two companies that currently holds status.
- We now have 2.3MW in on-site renewable energy assets (solar panels and wind) at our facilities.
- Pearson and the FT committed to a $1m three-year rainforest partnership in Colombia. We also continued to invest in Woodland Carbon offsets offered by the Woodland Trust in the UK and in a Nature Conservancy Council forest offset project in the United States.
Our footprint increased in 2012. This was as a result of acquisitions. Case study: Tom Delay, Chief Executive, Carbon Trust
Natural resources – forests
Our second focus area is forests. As a purchaser of paper and newsprint for our books, magazines and newspapers, security and sustainability of supply are very important to us. We have focused on actively encouraging responsible forest management and being more efficient in how we use paper. Some 2012 environmental highlights were:
- The Financial Times has reduced the volume of newsprint and magazine papers it uses by over 50% in five years. A key initiative has been to reduce the base weight of the papers used.
- Pearson together with three other North American publishers has entered into a partnership with the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® to help spur the growth of certification to preserve and protect forests. SFI Forest Partners aims to certify two million hectares of forests to the SFI 2010-2014 Standard across the United States and Canada and a further four million hectares by the end of 2017.
- Over 50 million Penguin books published in 2012 carried the FSC logo.