Confronting the Challenge of Climate Change: Pfizer’s Sustainability Efforts

Extreme weather events dominated the news this summer as communities around the country and world faced record-breaking heat, droughts, flooding, and wildfires.

These events – made more severe by the climate crisis – are negatively impacting human health and health equity outcomes across the globe, said Caroline Roan, Pfizer’s Chief Sustainability Officer.

Roan recently spoke with Louise Proud, Pfizer’s Vice President of Global Environment, Health and Safety, at an event called Climate Action: A Fireside Chat with Pfizer. [1] They outlined the company’s bold steps that aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, encourage the setting of science-based greenhouse gas emissions reduction throughout its value chain, and support the pharmaceutical industry’s collective effort to affect change.

“There is no doubt that health and climate are inextricably linked,” Proud said. 

Setting Goals

As climate change’s impact on human health rises, so does Pfizer’s efforts to combat it. Today, climate change is one of the six priority areas of Pfizer’s ESG strategy, designed to make a meaningful and measurable impact on people around the world.

Pfizer was an early leader in voluntary environmental impact reduction, Proud noted. The company set its first environmental standards over 30 years ago and, in 2000, its first greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals.

“We’ve come such a long way since that goal was first set,” she said. Over the last two decades, Pfizer delivered a 64% reduction in company emissions. By 2040, the company aims to reduce its company emissions by 95% – a bold ambition that will require Pfizer to transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy and adopt no-carbon technologies across its operations.

Internal goal setting is just the beginning, as approximately 80% of Pfizer’s greenhouse gas emissions are attributed to its supplier and value chain networks: including suppliers, distributors and service providers. Pfizer is encouraging its supply partners to set reduction targets, with a goal of reducing value chain greenhouse gas emissions by 90% by 2040.

Engaging & Integrating Supplier Networks

In 2021, Pfizer joined nine other industry leaders in launching ‘Energize,’ a new initiative helping pharmaceutical supply partners engage in decarbonization efforts through education about renewable energy procurement, according to Proud.

Energize helps pharmaceutical suppliers to learn more about renewable energy adoption and contracting, offering suppliers—which may not otherwise have the internal resources or expertise available—the opportunity to participate in the market for purchase power agreements to unlock renewable energy.

Actions such as integrating leading environmental sustainability attributes into new building design and renovation projects have enabled Pfizer to reduce energy demand and deliver facilities with reduced emissions profiles. Application of technology to optimize manufacturing processes and improve energy efficiency of supporting utilities has enabled reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

These sustainability actions helped Pfizer significantly reduce its emissions profile over the past twenty years – and these actions can help support energy conservation throughout its value chain, too.

Looking Forward

The path forward to helping to mitigate climate change is not without challenge and will involve all sectors of society working together. However, Proud expressed optimism that scientific action can help conquer the climate crisis, praising the industry’s collective efforts.

“Scientific rigor and tenacity are going to be critical in guiding the solutions that are needed,” she said.

The scale of the climate crisis is immense, but through bold action and strategic collaboration, Pfizer is working to help unite the industry in its pursuit of decarbonization. By leveraging collective resources, expertise, and ambition, we believe positive change is on the way, Proud said.

Learn more about Pfizer’s ESG efforts here.

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[1] Caroline Roan and Louise Proud. “Climate Action: A Fireside Chat with Pfizer.” 26 Sept. 2022. Available here.

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