Novo Nordisk wants to be the first pharma company to go fossil free and switch 100% to renewable energy sources by 2030.

The Copenhagen-headquartered company wants to be a leader in the switch to renewable energy, as part of an urgent move away from fossil fuels that is needed to limit climate change over the coming decades.

Scientists warn that if global temperature rises can’t be kept below below 2 degrees Celsius, global warming could set off a series of irreversible tipping points, triggering climate catastrophe worldwide. The issue has been highlighted by a growing climate change protest movement, with its figurehead 16-year-old Swede Greta Thunberg challenging politicians and society to act urgently.

Novo Nordisk is taking up the challenge, and one significant milestone on the way to its goal is just months away: a total switch to renewable energy sources for all its production facilities by the end of 2020.

One of the investments which is making this switch possible is Novo’s new 672-acre solar panel installation, roughly the size of 500 football fields, in North Carolina, US, which will provide power to the pharma giant’s entire US operations from early 2020.

It joins a cohort of other companies, including AstraZeneca, Johnson and Johnson and Biogen, that are aiming for a RE100 seal of approval, a corporate leadership initiative that accelerates change towards zero carbon grids at a global scale.

Companies pursuing this goal will need to make a public commitment to match 100% of its electricity used across global operations with electricity produced from renewable sources such as biomass, geothermal, solar, water and wind.

“More than 29m people use our medicines and from early next year, they can do so knowing that they’re produced using only renewable electricity,” said Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen, president and CEO.

“By committing to achieve zero emissions across our operations we are working towards a day when we will be able to say that Novo Nordisk is a company with zero environmental impact.”

AstraZeneca also joined the initiative, committing to source 100% renewable electricity globally by 2025, and with an interim target of 100% in Europe and the US by 2020.

Meanwhile Johnson and Johnson, which is also a member of the RE100, has set a target to power all of its facilities with renewable energy by 2050.

Novo’s commitment builds on its ‘Circular for Zero’ environmental strategy, whereby it intends to achieve zero CO2 emissions from all operations and transport by 2030 among other targets that will eventually make Novo Nordisk a company that has zero environmental impact.

To help achieve the targets, the company has partnered with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which has a mission to accelerate the transition to a circular economy.

Joe Murphy, CE100 Lead at Ellen MacArthur Foundation, said, “We are happy that Novo Nordisk has become the first pharmaceutical company to join CE100, which is the world’s leading circular economy network.

“Novo Nordisk brings a track record of delivering on their commitments, having already shifted to 100% renewable power within its production. With its 10-year ambition to implement circularity across the company, Novo Nordisk now belongs to a select group of leading organisations who are breaking new ground on the transition to a circular economy.”


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