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Fighting climate change

Published 16 September 2019

Roche recognises climate change as one of the largest global risks and is committed to addressing it as a matter of urgency. There is neither the time nor the need to wait for others to act first. Our future depends on how we resolve the climate threat.

Companies like Roche are one source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, so we must take responsibility and appropriate measures to reduce the impact we have on the world. International agreements, such as the Paris Agreement, which Roche actively supports, as well as national legislation, defines targets and schedules for reducing emissions. Since the early 2000s Roche has been working towards a low-carbon future. The company’s long-term goal is to reduce emissions from owned or controlled sources or from the generation of purchased energy to zero by the middle of this century.

Instead of compensating and off-setting CO2 emissions, we aim to actively reduce emissions.

To reach these ambitious goals, we have followed a clear strategy, which has proven to be very successful. We put our own business in order first by improving operations and energy intensity (energy usage per employee) while in a second step we substitute the remaining energy with energy generated from sustainable sources. By taking this approach, we have already had significant achievements. We are well ahead of the scenarios defined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that were published in 2018.

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Reduce emissions

Roche’s responsibility to the environment means we actively pursue programmes which reduce GHG emissions. To have a chance at limiting the increase in global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the biggest driver, fossil fuels, need to be left in the ground.

Most GHG emissions at Roche originate from the transformation and use of energy. Therefore, the actions taken to reduce GHGs such as carbon dioxide focus on all issues surrounding energy usage, e.g. reducing energy consumption and improving energy intensity.

Roche is also phasing out halogenated hydrocarbons which are very strong GHGs and significantly harm the ozone layer. They are used primarily in refrigeration and fire suppression systems.

Save energy and the environment

We believe that reducing energy consumption is the most sustainable way of minimising the negative impact attributed to energy use. Therefore, to lower GHG emissions, Roche opts for energy-efficient technology. For example, our headquarters in Switzerland have implemented thermal networks in the new buildings to use rejected, or otherwise wasted heat.

With these measures and with energy-saving action plans throughout the company, we improve energy efficiency and conservation significantly. Since 2004 Roche has reduced energy intensity by approximately 40%.

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Solar panels cover almost 80% of the energy needs of the administration building in the Roche Diagnostics site in Suzhou, China.

Switch to sustainable energy

Electricity from sustainable sources contributes to approximately 63% of Roche’s total electricity consumption. This electricity comes from specialist providers of energy from solar panels, windmills or hydropower plants. It excludes carbon offsets or other compensations to mitigate own greenhouse gas emissions. At our site in Suzhou, China, the solar panel system produces enough electricity from sunlight to cover almost 80% of the energy needs of the administration building – or enough to power almost 500 private homes for an entire year.

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A significant investment in on-site renewable energy: a 6.4MW solar installation on the Genentech campus in South San Francisco.

The solar power programmes of Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, make the organisation the largest corporate generator of solar energy in the San Francisco Bay Area. On a sunny day, the panels in South San Francisco and Vacaville generate approximately a quarter of the electricity needs of the site, an amount comparable to what is needed to power 2,960 homes.

Solar panels do not just reduce electricity costs, but also help reduce the harmful emissions going into the environment from traditional electricity generation.

For society and for overall business

Resolving the climate threat has been and will be our main driver to act the way we do. However, there are also good business reasons. Inefficient use of energy has short-term financial consequences in terms of energy costs, in some places carbon taxes and/or fuel/energy taxes and regulations. Longer-term consequences attributed to climate change related risks (e.g. extreme weather conditions) could have an impact on operations. Lastly, saving energy, as well as improving energy efficiency, reduces GHG emissions and all other negative impacts related to energy (e.g. other pollutants, water consumption, waste). Both measures reduce environmental pressures, and at the same time, save operating costs for the company.

All our actions are aimed at reducing the environmental load down to a minimum. At Roche, we are committed to operate within or below the ‘budget of nature’ and leaving behind a stable living environment for future generations.

Tags: Society, Environment, Sustainability