Net zero by 2025: still three years to go

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AXA plans to reduce its operating carbon emissions to net zero by 2025, which means that continuous measures are necessary.  

AXA Switzerland's business operations with its sales force have been climate-neutral since 2021, as certified by the independent ClimatePartner organization. "This is an important milestone of which we are proud. But it's ultimately just a step towards the target which is net zero business operations by the end of 2025," says Franka Bosman, Sustainability Manager at AXA Switzerland. 

Climate-neutral versus net zero - what's the difference?

Net zero target: how does that work?

Insurance companies are not known for their enormous carbon footprint, as they don't manufacture energy-intensive products or transport a great deal. But an insurance company's daily business operations produce numerous emissions that must be systematically identified and ultimately minimized. 

The carbon footprint is analyzed every year in "Carbon footprint AXA Switzerland" drawn up under ClimatePartner's Greenhouse Gas Protocol standard. It not only includes the operations carried on in our own buildings and involving IT infrastructure, but also factors in issues such as commuting by employees or energy consumption by those working from home. 

Carbon footprint AXA Switzerland 2021 (total 10,728 tCO2)

We already reduced the emissions from operations in the areas of energy, mobility and IT by 42 percent between 2012 and 2019. The next interim target is a further 21 percent reduction compared to 2019 levels by 2025. AXA Switzerland has defined various measures in order to meet this target.

Reducing carbon emissions

As in the wider population, mobility at AXA accounts for a significant proportion of carbon emissions; however, these have been greatly reduced through flexible working, employees working from home and video calls for customers. As well as the option of working from home more, AXA has also set new guidelines for business travel. Meetings abroad are avoided wherever possible. However, if travel is necessary, the train is preferable to flying. And to reduce emissions from commuting even further, we're pressing ahead with the expansion of e-charging stations for AXA's underground parking spaces.

In addition to mobility, the buildings also generate significant carbon emissions. Photovoltaic systems are due to be installed on more roofs of office buildings used by AXA by 2023. In addition, there is the reduction in the space required thanks to flexible and innovative working time models and the continual optimization of buildings infrastructure, such as heating/ventilation, lighting etc. AXA Switzerland has been drawing electricity solely from renewable sources (hydro power and photovoltaic systems) since 2009.

IT is another major source of energy consumption and carbon emissions. "To sustainably reduce these carbon emissions over the medium term, we have to deal with highly practical questions, such as whether all workstations need one or two screens or whether landing zones without screens would be a suitable alternative," says Franka Bosman. It's also important to promote a long-term and optimized modern workplace infrastructure and reduce the consumption of resources by applications. To do so, AXA is moving away from its own data center to more energy-efficient cloud data centers in Switzerland.

Offsetting carbon emissions

The remaining carbon emissions from operations are offset by AXA Switzerland through financial support for externally certified climate protection projects. This includes a reforestation project in Uruguay and a forest protection project in Brazil run by ClimatePartner as well as various gold standard projects run by Climate Seed. AXA Switzerland is also investing in the First Climate biochar program, which stores carbon within Swiss land over the long term and uses the Climeworks’ carbon dioxide removal service to filter carbon dioxide from the air and store it safely and permanently underground. 

Going forward optimistically with a new climate strategy

Individual measures to reduce carbon emissions can be implemented relatively quickly and easily, requiring only an adjustment to habits. However, other measures require fundamental changes, such as in the corporate culture or in procurement systems. Here it helps to keep a target in mind. At AXA Switzerland, our target is to achieve net zero for our operating business in around three years' time. 

The reduction in operating carbon emissions and those of our investments is part of AXA's climate strategy. This is how AXA intends to offer its customers more climate-friendly products and services as a way of helping them adjust to a changing climate. At the same time, it is teaching its employees about climate issues through the AXA Climate Academy. And as a social player, AXA aims to enable human progress in line with its purpose by protecting what's really important, such as biodiversity in Switzerland through the Flora Futura initiative.

AXA Switzerland's Climate Targets

AXA Switzerland aims to achieve net zero emissions in its operations by 2025. This means that the company's remaining carbon emissions will be removed from the atmosphere and saved in the long-term through climate protection projects.

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