Putting data and digital technology to work to cool the…
  • Blog

Putting data and digital technology to work to cool the climate crisis

AstraZeneca and Climate Vault share how they're tackling the biggest challenge of our time

Sanjay Srivastava

Chief Digital Strategist



In the World Economic Forum's 2023 Global Risks Report, "Failure to mitigate climate change" is number one on the list of the top 10 risks for the next decade. As governments, organizations, and individuals find innovative ways to overcome this overwhelming challenge, data and technology can play a significant part in the answer.

To unpeel this further, I spoke with Gurinder Kaur, vice president of Operations IT at AstraZeneca, one of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies, and Jason M. Grant, COO and president of Climate Vault, a nonprofit that helps people and companies reduce their carbon footprints. Both organizations have ambitious climate goals and realize that a crisis of this magnitude needs the amplifying power of well-managed data and technology to solve.

As part of its flagship Ambition Zero Carbon program, AstraZeneca aims to halve its entire value chain footprint by 2030, on the way to becoming science-based net zero by 2045 at the latest. Climate Vault has built a solution that aims to reduce 10 million tons of carbon from the atmosphere by 2025. To achieve this, the nonprofit is taking a unique approach by purchasing emission allowances from regulated carbon compliance markets and funneling those investments into groundbreaking carbon-removal technology.

During my conversation with Gurinder and Jason, we explored the steps their organizations are taking to reach their goals, how data and technology are accelerating their progress, and the lessons learned along the way.

Taking strides toward sustainability

AstraZeneca seeks to transform healthcare by unlocking what science can do for people, society, and the planet. With sustainability in the company's DNA, the company has three interconnected priority sustainability pillars.

The first aims to decarbonize healthcare, manage its environmental impact, and invest in nature and biodiversity. Second, AstraZeneca is working to increase access to healthcare in all areas of the world. And finally, it's working to create an ethical, transparent, and inclusive environment.

Within AstraZeneca's environmental protection work, Ambition Zero Carbon is a key initiative. And with sustainability core to her role, Gurinder views data and technology as vital enablers to reduce the organization's environmental footprint. Within Global Operations, AstraZeneca is applying technology to support its sustainability target in three core ways.

The company's removing paper from processes company-wide. It's also using internet-of-things technology to connect technology assets, capture data, and identify how assets can run more efficiently and not waste energy. Thirdly, it's creating digital twins or virtual representations of every step in a process, such as packaging and delivery planning, to improve decision-making on how they can run in the cleanest, optimal way.

AstraZeneca is on track to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions from its global operations (Scopes 1 and 2) by 98% by 2026, from a 2015 baseline.

Measurable, verifiable, and long-term impact

Climate Vault's innovative two-step approach helps people and businesses reduce their impact on the environment. But to keep up with demand for its solution and provide clients with a seamless experience, it needed to enhance its solution with digital technologies, including automation and improved integration through APIs.

Climate Vault has created a platform for customers that offers transparency and real-time pricing, enabling clients to accurately reduce CO2 based on their emissions. It can quickly integrate with clients' systems, enabling them to embed Climate Vault's solution into, for example, their ecommerce platforms or employee benefits programs, so they can offer carbon reduction and removal to their customers or workers too. And, importantly, Climate Vault can scale as demand for the solution increases.

By working to become a data-driven organization, Climate Vault is on track to realize its mission of removing 10 million tons of carbon from the atmosphere. The focus is now on how the organization can do more and have an even greater impact on our planet.

Takeaways: Enterprise data backbones, sustainability-centered design and mindsets, the power of the ecosystem

Gurinder and Jason have a number of lessons learned to share. Both stress the need to have a forward-thinking data strategy and an enterprise data backbone to unlock the critical insights that drive practical climate action today – and tomorrow.

At AstraZeneca, it's important that employees know the impact of their role on the environment. Having a sustainability mindset has been instrumental to AstraZeneca staying on track with its climate agenda. Similarly, at Climate Vault, success has relied on considering sustainability from the onset of a project or major initiative.

From our work with Fortune 500 companies around the world, I can't overemphasize the need for all organizations to build a forward-looking data strategy and a flexible data backbone. With this in place, we unlock the insight, foresight, and agility to tackle climate change.

And finally, our discussion underlines that we can't overcome a challenge of this magnitude with just one tool, individual, or group. It will take the power of our ecosystem – of data and technology, of leaders like Gurinder and Jason, and of the broader global community – to beat climate change.

Learn more about Climate Vault's work with Genpact

Read more About