Davos, Switzerland — At the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF), AstraZeneca announced a powerful new initiative comprised of a five-year plan and a ten-year plan. The former is to have no carbon emissions from its global operations by 2025. The latter: go carbon-negative by 2030, across the pharma giant’s entire value chain. 

Calling this commitment “Ambition Zero Carbon,” AZ highlighted some key efforts that will help it succeed. The company will use renewable energy sources for both power and heat, and their fleet of vehicles worldwide will soon be 100% electric. Additionally, it’s working to develop respiratory inhalers with internal propellants that are more than 90% better than traditional inhalers are for the environment, with Global Warming Potential (GWP) of almost zero. 

Then there are two other parts of the initiative, which, strikingly, don’t pertain directly to AZ’s own operations. One is that AZ will engage and support its suppliers in efforts to reduce their own carbon emissions, in recognition of the fact that there are many opportunities to treat the environment better across AZ’s whole value chain, including externally. And finally: Ambition Zero Carbon contains a project called “AZ Forest”—through which the company will partner with an expert reforestation organization to plant 50 million new trees across a number of different countries. All in all, AZ has pledged $1 billion to achieve all these goals. 

As AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said to the WEF, “Climate change is an urgent threat to public health, the environment and the sustainability of the global economy. Since 2015, we have reduced our carbon emissions from operations by almost a third and our water consumption by almost one fifth. But…the commitments AstraZeneca has made today as part of our Ambition Zero Carbon strategy will enable us to speed up the reduction of our company’s impact on climate and inspire collaboration at a global level to effect policy change.”

One important trend illuminated in the 2020 Health Trends report from Syneos Health is called “New Strategic Blueprint,” and it encompasses a number of different phenomena, one of which is about how work changes when purpose changes. It’s important for health care leaders to demonstrate that they’re newly attuned to the needs of often-unrecognized stakeholders, including suppliers, the environment, and pharma’s own employees. Attention to the broad range of people impacted by a big company’s choices is critical in this day and age, as pharmaceutical companies are being pushed to demonstrate that they’re acting in the best interest of the public. Download Health Trends 2020 here.

About the Author:

Ben helps spark innovative healthcare thinking as Associate Director of Innovation. Previously on the editorial staff of Vanity Fair, he brings experience in engaging, rigorous storytelling to the healthcare world. Ben’s goals are to move brands to rethink their roles, own their evolving narratives, and maintain vital and vigorous consumer relationships.