Fiona Ball: Our journey to net zero carbon

Tuesday 15 February 2022

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Two years ago, we pledged to go net zero carbon by 2030, supporting our 12,000 suppliers to do the same. We promised to use our voice – our channels, stars and shows – to raise awareness of climate issues and the everyday actions we can all take, to make a difference.

In the last twelve months, we’ve made good progress towards our 2030 goals. And looking back over 2021 – the wildfires, the record temperatures and the speed with which polar ice is melting away – shows us just how critical this work is. We remain determined to play our part. Together, we are thousands of colleagues, reaching 23 million customers across Europe. We’re changing the way we work, driving positive change in our industry and spreading the word.

Last year, our goals to go net zero carbon by 2030 were ratified by the Science Based Targets Initiative. They confirmed that our targets to slash emissions caused by our business operations, by our suppliers and by customers using our tech products in their homes, are in line with our collective need to keep global warming to below 1.5 degrees. This matters. Because we now have a solid baseline against which to measure our progress. The SBTI also praised the ambition of our targets.

In 2021, we sourced all our electricity from 100% renewable sources – this will be our new normal, going forwards.

All our TV productions are going net zero and we launched our new Sustainable Production Principles to help our content creators get there. Sky Sports News joined Sky News, becoming an albert certified carbon neutral news channel. Sky Production Services were awarded the DPP Committed to Sustainability mark, for the highest standards of sustainability.

We are building the world’s most sustainable film and TV studio – Sky Studios Elstree – which opens this year. Every production made at Elstree will be as sustainable as possible. We estimate that Sky Studios Elstree will attract £3 billion in production spend in its first five years, so this is significant.

We launched Sky Glass, the world’s first carbon neutral TV. Sky Glass has been designed to reduce emissions and has built-in power saving features like Auto-switch off mode when no motion is detected. We’re proud that this is the only TV that comes in recyclable packaging, free from single-use plastic.

At COP26, we were proud to be Principal Partner and Media Partner, supporting leaders to drive change. We launched a landmark piece of research at COP26 from the Behavioural Insights team, to understand the role broadcasters can play.

We learnt that 70% of people across Europe are willing to change their behaviour, to address the climate crisis. And that TV has the power to drive lasting change, with one in three people having made lifestyle changes, inspired by TV shows. People expect us to cut through the complexity on climate issues.

On the back of this research, we agreed with 12 of the UK’s biggest broadcasters to keep climate issues on the agenda, across the full range of our content, from hard-hitting news through to dramas, kids shows and more.

We launched The Daily Climate Show, a prime time daily news bulletin. We broadcast Climate News Live, a channel dedicated to COP26, from the summit.

We created Obki, a new show helping kids explore climate issues. Plus Wonder Raps and a new documentary following young climate activists and featuring HRH Prince of Wales.

Temple 2 brings global warming to the fore, with many of the characters observing phenomena linked to global warming and finding their lives impacted by it. Sky Sports Cricket’s Climate Crisis explains why sport is under threat as the climate change worsens.

During Celebrity Landscape Artist of the Year, our artists painted eroding coastlines. We also partnered with Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, to create Game Zero, the world’s first carbon neutral football match. Game Zero creates a ground-breaking template that every major sporting event can follow.

Last year, we unveiled the winners of the Sky Zero Footprint Fund, a series of sustainable companies that won free advertising. During COP26, we ran ad roadblocks for our Footprint Fund winners, raising awareness of their products and services.

Films and TV shows tackling climate issues aren’t just important. They’re popular. We can see that in the response to our own climate content, and content made by our partners elsewhere.

It all goes to show we’re on the right track. You can expect to see more exciting content from us this year. And more great strides towards our net zero carbon future. I’m so proud of the way people at Sky have pulled together to make change happen. One thing that this year has taught me is the power of us all acting together.

Fiona Ball, Group Director, Bigger Picture