News Corporation: CDP reporting consolidates data on one platform highlighting improvement opportunities

 

News Corporation (NASDAQ: NWS, NWSA; ASX: NWS, NWSLV) is a diversified global media company with operations in six industry segments: cable network programming; filmed entertainment; television; direct broadcast satellite television; publishing; and other. The activities of News Corporation are conducted principally in the United States, Continental Europe, the United Kingdom, Australia, Asia and Latin America. It has total assets of approximately US$56 billion and total annual revenues of approximately US$33 billion.

Challenge: Reducing energy use
News Corporation is not an energy intensive company but it decided to respond to CDP for the first time in 2007 to gain a better understanding of its risks and opportunities with respect to carbon emissions. The reporting process was used to measure baselines and set targets but also to set an example for other large companies and encourage them to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions.

The wider objectives have become to minimise the company’s environmental impact overall, to grow sustainably, and to inspire others to take action. But the first step has been to pursue a general reduction in energy use. Both Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch, and James Murdoch, Chairman and Chief Executive for Europe & Asia, feel this is an important issue and established the Global Energy Initiative in May 2007 to reduce News Corporation’s energy use and GHG emissions. At the GEI launch, Rupert Murdoch declared, “This is about changing the DNA of our business to re-imagine how we look at energy.”

Solution: Measure to manage
News Corporation is large and diverse with disparate entities. Reporting to CDP prompted the company to consolidate data across the organisation onto one platform for the first time. In five short years, the process of data-gathering has evolved significantly; initially collection of invoice data was conducted manually, but now there is a centralised online platform accessible to businesses and employees worldwide. The data process is customised for each business need; some businesses use the platform all year round to actively manage their emissions data, others upload their data strictly on an annual basis for the CDP reporting process.

James Murdoch has been a vocal proponent of disclosure for years. He wrote in an op-ed in the Financial Times, “Saying we can tackle climate change without public-company disclosure is akin to thinking obesity can be solved if people do not weigh themselves.... At a time when some companies emit more greenhouse gases than entire nations, we need transparency about emissions.”

Vijay Sudan, Manager at News Corporation’s Global Energy Initiative in New York City, comments: “The CDP process allows us to see who we are as a business in terms of GHG emissions and energy costs. The process helped us understand that 80% of our GHG emissions are from electricity and mostly this is from offices and lighting. Our most energy intensive facilities are print plants and film and TV production. Emissions trends over time depend on our operations; for example, film production is variable – in some years there are three films in others five, so there is a limit to what can and can’t be controlled.”

Benefit: Identifying opportunities for carbon and cost savings
The CDP reporting process has highlighted opportunities for improvement and “hot spots” to be prioritised. It has directed strategic thinking as News Corporation has increasingly integrated energy efficiency into its wider business strategy. Vijay Sudan: “Some projects have on average a carbon cost avoidance of $180 per metric ton... We look at how carbon and money tie together. It costs us $250 to produce a metric ton of carbon. Since 80% of our GHG emissions are from electricity, considerable savings can be made.”

At the end of 2010 News Corporation became the first global media company to achieve carbon neutral operations. To reach this milestone, the company employs a strategy in which it prioritises first reducing the energy use of its operations, then sourcing renewable power when economically feasible and, finally, purchasing carbon offsets for the remaining unavoidable emissions.

“The CDP reporting process has been crucial to this achievement” says Vijay. “If we didn’t use CDP as a framework we wouldn’t find opportunities for emissions reductions or be able to engage employees. Employees recognise we take climate change and CDP seriously. Many savings ideas come from creative and adaptive thinking among onsite personnel.” Vijay continues, “Our leading position in both the CDP Leadership index and CDP Performance Index are testament to our achievements in disclosure and performance and send an important message to our stakeholders.”

Setting an example for other large companies was a prime motivation for News Corporation. The CDP process has aided this objective. It has also importantly helped facilitate the sharing of best practice across News Corporation’s own diverse and geographically disparate businesses.

News Corporation has recently rolled out a new, more ambitious set of targets which build on the reporting process of the past four years. Vijay concludes “At the moment we are hitting low hanging fruit, but to get to the next stage, we need to think more strategically and systematically about carbon reduction activities. We need to think more holistically about the whole process, for example, how we think of energy efficiency and carbon reduction projects, how we finance these activities and how we can replicate strong projects in our different businesses across the organization.”

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