Our Carbon Reduction Commitment and Actions
In 2021, Aon committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2030 in alignment with Science Based Targets, joining the global effort to manage the effects of climate change through bold and ambitious actions. “We have a responsibility to meet this pivotal moment with actions that will lead to impact,” says Abigail Neary, head of sustainability. “And there is always more to be done. We’ve developed our own priorities and controls with the aid of scientific research and will work to mitigate the effects of climate change today while preparing our world for the future generations that will live, work and thrive here.”
Our Environmental Policy reinforces our pledge to pursue sustainable business solutions and provides a global framework and controls for more responsible operations.
In 2021, we enhanced tracking and reporting of our footprint to include our Scope 3 emissions, covering all indirect emissions that occur in our supply chain, expanding our baseline to include all Scope 3 emissions, as compared to estimates in prior years which included only business travel. Given the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our activity in 2020, we have measured against a pre-pandemic benchmark from 2019. Since then, we’ve reduced emissions 12 percent, with the majority of overall reductions coming from our supply chain.
Currently, our emissions footprint is largely from our supply chain, real estate and travel. We’re taking steps to further mitigate those emissions by:
- Continuing our sustainable sourcing strategy, enabled by our Aon Business Services platform (ABS)
- Reducing the impact of our real estate footprint by reducing the space we use and improving energy efficiency across our real estate portfolio and technology, including through renewable energy
- Thoughtfully limiting our travel and commuting footprint through our Smart Working strategy
Sustainable Sourcing Strategy
In 2021, we continued our collaboration with our suppliers to collectively reduce emissions through responsible sourcing practices, including conducting supplier climate-risk assessments and aligning our sustainability goals during the procurement process.
Historically, we’ve taken steps to centralize our thirdparty spend and now, around 90 percent of spend today is managed through preferred channels on our Aon Business Services (ABS) platform. “Being in the business of better ESG decisions starts with our own procurement strategy. Our net-zero ambitions tap our strong relationships and technology and capability investments, including ABS,” says Michael Benvenuto, chief procurement officer. “ABS provides insight into both the efficiency of our spend and the emissions footprint, enabling us to strategically manage our netzero commitment and procurement goals.”
Within ABS, we continue to digitize processes, achieving greater efficiency and accuracy while reducing emissions. In 2021, we continued to use electronic invoicing and purchase orders, badge printing and DocuSign. Collectively, these initiatives saved over:
- 21 million sheets of paper
- 573,000 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent
- 9.7 million liters of water
As we expand the use of green materials in our offices, we are working with partners to improve purchased product life cycles and responsible end-of-use equipment practices. We have moved from ownership to leasing of hardware through our third-party partners — which enables end-of-life recycling for printers, print cartridges and laptops — and our office products are increasingly refurbished to reduce waste. We also donate to local communities to extend the life cycle of materials and products.
Real Estate Footprint
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic brought a new way of working into the world, Aon was taking measures to become an agile, flexible working space that’s designed to enable connectivity and collaboration. During the pandemic, investments in real estate and our ABS platform enabled us to shift 98 percent of employees to remote work over the course of a week. As we go forward, we’re using our Smart Working strategy to support employees in working wherever is most efficient for them to best serve clients or colleagues. With this strategy, we’ve been able to reduce our total leased space over the past five years, while at the same time empowering our people to more effectively serve clients and colleagues.
Energy Efficiency Practices
We are also working to reduce the carbon footprint of our office buildings and business operations through ecologically sound energy and digital solutions. Aon strives to meet rigorous standards for green technology and environmentally conscious development, and we’ve achieved ISO 14001 environmental management certification for larger office buildings in Chicago, London, Singapore and Madrid.
Today, 71 percent of Aon’s leased square footage in North America is in spaces certified by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program or Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method, and we have already begun the switch to completely renewable electricity in Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and the UK.
As part of our Smart Working strategy, we are making more conscious and purposeful decisions regarding travel, while continuing to maintain the highest levels of client service and collaboration among colleagues. Our investments in virtual and remote working technology make it easy and effective for employees to connect from anywhere around the world, enabling seamless connectivity and reducing our overall travel footprint.
Responsible Investment Strategy in the U.K.
Investing in a better world is part of our larger ESG effort. We value responsible, sustainable investment that enables people and businesses to build their future while making a positive impact in the lives of others and on the planet. In our UK-delegated portfolios, Aon has committed to a 50 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 within investment portfolios and default strategies offered through the Aon MasterTrust and the BigBlue Touch, our Group Personal Pension Plan. By 2050, Aon U.K. aims to have a net-zero carbon emissions profile in our UK-delegated portfolios and default strategies.
Our work reflects a larger push. Our research has found that investors are now three times more likely to say that responsible investing will soon become the norm and indistinguishable from mainstream investing. More than two-in-five (42 percent) intend to align their investment portfolios to net-zero emissions before 2050 — and one-in-six (16 percent) have already made this commitment. Respondents agreed that climate change, along with regulation, will be the primary drivers for responsible investing.
We aim to be at the forefront of responsible investing. Our wide range of services, spanning ESG integration, engagement and stewardship, climate change and impact investing, empowers investors to develop and implement responsible investment strategies that will best serve their scheme objectives. We provide ESG-integrated delegated investment and single-strategy solutions, including Aon’s Global Impact Fund.
The opportunity to contribute to a better world — and see sustainable, long-term returns — is significant. By encouraging environmental stewardship among asset owners and asset managers, mitigating risk with the aid of an ESG dashboard and delivering solutions focused on a lowering carbon footprint, Aon is taking action today to support the environmental wellbeing of tomorrow.