Climate Leadership is about being both transparent on emissions, and gradually reducing emissions in line with policy guidance to stay within 2 degrees C global warming. As part of our Climate Leaders series, we sat down with Bruno Sarda, Head of Sustainability at NRG Energy, to learn how and why a global top 100 emitter of greenhouse gas is managing its carbon footprint in line with policy guidance. Note that despite recent changes in executive management, NRG is continuing its long-term energy diversification strategy to realize new growth opportunity, and manage risk across all time horizons.
By Bruno Sarda, Head of Sustainability at NRG | 9 March 2017
Sustainability: Why is reducing your GHG footprint important to your business strategy?
Mr. Sarda: Climate change needs to be addressed. As the largest independent power producer in the US, we understand that our decisions to act on climate also present a great business opportunity and will accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy. Setting science-based targets to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions aligns with our vision to create a sustainable energy future. We’re in the business of generating power that’s safe, reliable and increasingly cleaner, as such, sustainability must be a key consideration in our decision making.
Sustainability: Do you report your GHG emissions scope 1, 2, and 3? Aside from meeting regulatory requirements, why is this important?
Mr. Sarda: Yes, NRG reports scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions to CDP annually. Companies cannot achieve goals that they don’t set, and goals without action are meaningless. By setting and tracking against the best average targets for our operations, NRG is taking action toward our vision and holding ourselves publicly accountable.
Sustainability: Can you provide an update on your aggregate GHG emissions from your target baseline?
The chart is also published on page 31 of our 2016 10-K, and is the best publicly available data. Our Science-based targets were set against a 2014 baseline – our full 2016 results are coming in the next few months.
Sustainability: Does this past performance since 2013 meet or exceed a science based target?
Mr. Sarda: NRG set a science-based target in 2014 to reduce absolute CO2e 50% by 2030 and 90% by 2050. From 2015-2016 NRG reduced scope 1 absolute emissions 19%.
Sustainability: Do you set targets for future reductions based on a science based target guidance (e.g. Reducing 1.4% per year from a 2010 baseline, or 2% from a 2017 baseline?)
Mr. Sarda: Yes. NRG was one of the first 10 companies to have an approved science-based target. Having an ambitious target for reducing emissions and managing our plants is important to show that we will remain reliable, sustainable, and safe suppliers now and in the future. Our case study is featured on the science based targets website: http://sciencebasedtargets.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Science-Based-Targets-Case-study-NRG-Energy.pdf
Sustainability: What benefits have you seen because of your carbon management strategy?
Mr. Sarda: Voluntary reporting helps all of our stakeholders understand and plan for the social and economic responsibilities that our customers expect us to address. By participating in this movement toward transparency, we are demonstrating our commitment to working toward a future where we can all thrive—in NRG’s case that includes an energy future that will be safe, reliable, affordable, and ultimately lower in carbon.
Sustainability: To be a leader in climate performance, what advice would you give to other carbon intensive firms about GHG management and planning?
Mr. Sarda: Managing your organization’s GHG emissions is about managing risk – and tapping into opportunity – which makes good business sense. Consider setting a science-based target because no matter where your firm is along their carbon accounting maturity model, the process is in itself helpful because it brings together groups around a new dialogue. Ensure that you are asking for feedback from your stakeholders. For NRG, setting a science-based target directly answered the needs of our customers, many of whom are thinking about their own carbon footprints. It is critical for stakeholders who need to know that we are thinking of potential risks, in the short, medium and long-term.