May 24, 2021
By Mike Fletcher

In January 2021, global professional services network, EY announced its intent to become carbon negative by the end of the year and to achieve net zero in 2025. 

In order to reach these ambitious goals, EY has put in place seven targets to significantly reduce its absolute emissions and remove and offset more carbon than it emits. 

These targets include 'Reducing business travel emissions by 35% in 2025 against a 2019 baseline’; ‘Investing in services and solutions that help EY clients profitably decarbonise their businesses and provide solutions to other sustainability challenges and opportunities’; plus a requirement for '75% of EY suppliers to set science-based targets by no later than 2025'. 

To discuss how these targets impact its meetings and events strategy, Shannon Wayt Sessoms, TME Sustainability, DEI and M&E Programme Leader at EY, joined Cvent’s latest webinar to explore working practices around sustainability with Inge Huijbrechts, Radisson Hotel Group’s Global SVP Sustainability, Security and Corporate Communications. 

Discussing EY’s ambitious targets, Sessoms told viewers: “Air travel was responsible for 75% of our global emissions in 2019 so we will work with internal stakeholders and clients to encourage the use of virtual collaboration technologies, limit flying to events and eliminate flights for one-day meetings completely. 

“Despite being a little Zoom fatigued, we need to work proactively with our people and supply chains to say, these are our goals and here’s how we’re all going to work together to reach them. We will promote virtual meetings and events as a priority, before hybrid and then localised meeting hubs and we'll see this filter down through destinations, venues and all EY suppliers.”

Within EY’s MICE devision, Sessoms has seen a real demand for a green meetings policy, particularly from those employees who attend company meetings and events. 

“We’re fortunate that we have authentic buy-in and support from C-suite executive level. However, the average age of our 300,000-strong employee base is 27-years-old and they really want to see our company driving in this sustainable direction,” she continued.

“Our sustainable MICE strategy is a constant conversation amongst both stakeholders and attendees who want to be able to see the positive choices we make and the impact they ultimately have.”

Radisson Hotel Group’s five-year sustainability plan was implemented in 2017 but has since been extended until 2025, across its 1,500 properties and 100,000 employees. The company is committed to a 30% reduction in its global carbon footprint and is in the process of getting set science-based targets. 

Since 2019, Radisson Meetings are 100% carbon neutral at every property worldwide and at no cost to the client or meeting planner. Additional sustainability actions at the hotel or for reach meeting are being implemented by regional champions, individual hotel champions and Meetings and Incentive teams

Inge Huijbrechts told viewers: “In 2019, we surveyed our meeting and events clients and discovered that people didn’t know how to calculate carbon emissions and where to go in order to offset. So we decided to implement offsetting for everyone using the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance's Hotel Carbon Measurement initiative. 

“Sustainability has to go beyond overarching policy. It needs to filter down into localised implementation. For example, individual hotels offer pencils instead of disposable plastic pens, we minimise paper usage in meeting rooms, discuss food menus with clients to avoid wastage and have a hierarchy of water supply options, which starts with reusable water bottles and descends down through glass bottles etc to avoid single-use plastic bottles.”

When asked what role technology should play in future greener meetings strategies, beyond virtual events,  EY’s Sessoms was quick to remind viewers there is no longer any excuse for printed event collateral.

“Use an app that does it all and allow delegates to make notes that can then be sent straight to their in-box,” she said. “If there’s a gift from the past year of the pandemic, it’s to allow events teams and clients to reset and to determine what’s purposeful moving forward.

"We have to start making wiser choices using technology that has been accelerated to help us match the aspirations and expectations of everyone invested in the future of our planet.”

Mike Fletcher

Mike Fletcher

Mike has been writing about the meetings and events industry for almost 20 years as a former editor at Haymarket Media Group, and then as a freelance writer and editor. He currently runs his own content agency, Slippy Media, catering for a wide-range of client requirements, including social strategy, long-form, event photography, event videography, reports, blogs and ghost-written material.
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