Pictured: Brian O’Neill, Head of Sustainability, Sponsorships and Communications, Aviva
Brian O’Neill is Head of Sustainability, Sponsorships and Communications at Aviva.
What did it mean to win New Zero Carbon category at the ESG Awards?
It was fantastic for us to win this prestigious award as it demonstrates a recognition for our ambitious targets and actions we have put in place across our entire business to help us achieve our goal of net zero by 2040.
What factors, do you think, contributed to this success?
Aviva has a long-standing history of listening to and adopting the science when it comes to climate issues and recognising the obligation that we have as a leading financial services business to take action. This is evident by the fact that we have been carbon neutral in our operations since 2006, previously using carbon offsets by supporting projects in the developing world and have been developing ESG and ethical funds for over 30 years. We are still at an early stage of an 18 year climate journey so there is a lot more that needs to be done to deliver our goal of net zero by 2040, the most ambitious of any insurance company in the world to date. We have put in place both short and long term goals and actions for our entire operations, supply chain and investments, as that is where our biggest impact can be delivered
Is there one piece of advice you would give to others who are seeking to make a difference?
Start by understanding your carbon emissions baseline. This can be one of the most challenging parts of the exercise as capturing data and understanding what your largest emitting activities are is difficult but, without a solid baseline, you cannot begin to make impactful changes or set significant targets. Be sure to challenge yourself when setting a baseline year and explore new measures and KPIs for measuring progress. There is no point setting long term goals without any clear pathway for measuring success and incremental improvements.
What are your plans for the future?
We have a significant number short term goals in place, that will need to be met within the next two years, such as electrifying our fleet, and decarbonising our investment portfolio by 25%. Part of our net zero strategy means investing in nature based solutions to remove carbon from the atmosphere and last year we announced a €5 million investment in the Nature Trust which will see roughly 1.2 million trees planted across the island of Ireland over the next few years. It’s important not to forget the importance of biodiversity in the battle to save our planet and that’s why we have highlighted the importance of supporting natural habitats to allow our native species to thrive and as a significant driver for our investment in nature.
The ESG Awards 2023 are now open for entries. To get involved in the ESG Awards, please contact Brian.Kearns@businessandfinance.com