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The challenges of decarbonizing global companies

Posted by Yannick Lucas Valy |

We have delved into the world of global companies and the challenges they face when dealing with sustainability. As the science community has been urging governments and companies to act, the shift isn’t happening as fast as some hoped. So, what is standing in the way? What comes after raising awareness? Yannick Lucas Valy, Sustainability & CSR Project Manager, kindly agreed to share his vision. Let’s hear it! 

After awareness comes the time to act  

It was not long after my master's degree in international business that I chose to carry on with a second, this time, in sustainable development management. The question of sustainability had always been part of my reflections and daily life, but it was certainly during my studies and first experiences that I realized how much I need to align my words with my actions. Even though it is not a new term, sustainability has long been addressed as a peripheral topic while it should be central, in my opinion. That is what mostly drives me as a Sustainability and CSR Project Manager; I want to take part in what I consider a necessary shift of paradigm on an individual and collective level. And for change to happen, we need to raise awareness across organizations and societies. It can be challenging to persuade some people that the environment is a serious topic and a business priority, and it can be frustrating sometimes. But I still believe every effort, little or big, is worthwhile. Besides, I think there is no such thing as a small effort, and everything is worthwhile. A global effort is indeed needed, but the individual fuels what's global, so why oppose them? We can't have a global effort without all the “individual efforts” that consist of it. In general, opposing responsibilities and pointing fingers will get us nowhere. Hoping that the collective will awaken and do something without anyone feeling involved individually, it just can't work. To have a truly sustainable impact, we must act together! 

Why stand still in the storm?  

As the science community is urging governments and companies to act, we can see the shift isn’t happening that fast, and I believe that among the things standing in the way is the fear of change. Changing our behaviors, what we've always known, can be more challenging than we think. That is why there is a strong need to raise awareness and support companies when tackling this topic. To some people, climate change isn't real because they haven't seen its consequences yet. For others, it is a priority. And we need to embark everyone! The notion of constraint sticks to sustainability, but no one said you must change it all in one shot. Again, we come back to the importance of awareness, but awareness alone is a dead end. If everyone is educated, that's already very good, but that's not enough to achieve change. After awareness comes action; that's where true change happens. With the CSRD just around the corner, good progress has been achieved at a European level! What may be lacking is a bit of transparency as to what is happening and what it entails... Personally, my first leverage is to restrict my air travel as much as possible, acknowledging that many people don't travel at all. I try to eat only seasonal food, and almost no meat. For clothing, I'm very careful and pay attention to the brands I choose, making sure they are transparent about their CSR responsibilities. 

A sustainable business model: Utopia or reality? 

The carbon emissions reduction target is the big topic that mainly challenges companies nowadays. They need to find a balance between their natural need to grow and increase profits to stay afloat, and the backlash it causes on their carbon footprint. Of course, we can lay all the blame on capitalism, but in any case, we can't change the whole system, so we might as well adapt it to find a more virtuous and respectful model. I am not saying what companies should tackle first, but to me, the first thing would be to stop treating sustainability as a nice-to-have and start seeing it as a major priority, because it is. ERGs like the Green Community we have at Criteo are a promising launching pad as they help raise employee awareness about environmental challenges, allow to make sustainability a priority from the bottom up, and can ultimately make a company's strategy shift. Of course, the carbon question is also becoming more important legally. Many companies are now required to calculate their scope 1, 2, and 3 because we urgently need to reduce CO2 emissions. Companies must take action to reduce their emissions in any way possible. For instance, at Criteo we chose to submit our carbon reduction targets to SBTI, meaning that we are fully committed to aligning with the Paris Agreement. Having received the SBTI’s validation of our reduction targets, we are now organizing workshops to progress toward our targets. Following this, reductions per year and per target will be set to reach our final objective by 2030. On top of that, these reduction targets will be included in our teams’ roadmaps. This shows that awareness has grown among our community and that we are progressively integrating these targets into our daily operations. We are the first AdTech company to have validated SBTI reduction targets, and I hope it sets an inspiring example and will encourage other companies to follow.  


If I had a magical wand and could remove any obstacle to allow organizational structures to move faster, I would tackle money and human resources first. To me, one primary blocker for some companies is a lack of resources to set up projects that could have a positive impact, and that is a shame. If I could, I'd ensure that any company that wanted to implement an effective CSR strategy would get the right resources to make it come true. 

Yannick Lucas Valy

Sustainability & CSR Project Manager

The Future is Yours.

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