Quick 4: A Q&A on our science-based climate target approval with RRA’s Global Head of Sustainability


The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) has approved RRA’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction targets. Pam Fitzpatrick, RRA’s Global Head of Sustainability, explains what this means for our firm and our clients.

We have a responsibility to live and breathe the advice we give our clients on how to lead with purpose and make positive contributions to the complex challenges that affect our society and our planet.

The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi)  

Setting emissions reduction targets is an early—and galvanizing—step in tackling climate change, and often the catalyst for examining whether you have the right strategy, processes, and people in place to drive change. As a global leadership advisory firm, it’s particularly important for us to set a precedent.

To approach our own journey with a commitment to meaningful climate action, RRA chose the science-based targets approach to setting GHG emissions reduction goals, which included achieving net-zero GHG emissions across the value chain by 2050.

These targets have now been approved by the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi)—a global body that enables organizations to set emissions reduction targets in line with the latest climate science.

To delve deeper into our commitments, how we went about setting them, and why this matters to our firm and our clients, Kurt Harrison, Founder and Co-Head of the Global Sustainability Practice at RRA, sat down with Pam Fitzpatrick, Global Head of Sustainability at RRA.


Pam Fitzpatrick  

Pam Fitzpatrick

Global Head of Sustainability at RRA

Kurt Harrison  

Kurt Harrison

Founder and Co-Head of the Global Sustainability Practice at RRA


Kurt Harrison: Science-based targets are emerging as the gold standard for climate pledges, offering a more credible and clearly defined pathway for companies to reduce GHG emissions. It’s a huge achievement to get our emissions reduction targets approved by the SBTi. Can you tell us a bit more about the targets that we’ve set out to achieve?

Pam Fitzpatrick: Knowing the climate crisis that the world is facing, it was important for us to lay out commitments that were ambitious and yet achievable. To commit to being part of the solution, we needed goals that were relevant to the way we run our business.

We’re proud as a firm to commit to reducing Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions by 50% by 2030, and to reduce absolute Scope 1, 2, and 3 GHG emissions by 90% by 2050—starting from a baseline that we set in 2019, the first year for which we calculated our firmwide carbon footprint.

We’ve also committed to reducing Scope 3 GHG emissions from business travel by 55% per full-time employee equivalent by 2030.

For us, it’s also important for our suppliers to be climate-conscious, because everyone in our value chain needs to move in the same direction to net-zero emissions. That’s why we’ve also stated that 30% of our suppliers will have science-based targets in place by 2027.

We realize that although we have between now and 2050 to hit our net-zero goals, there’s work we can do right now to have a meaningful impact. Our near-term targets will ensure we take immediate action to tackle climate change. As we look toward 2050, we hope our activity will only accelerate as new technology solutions become available, at scale.



Kurt Harrison: Why was it important for RRA to set these targets?

Pam Fitzpatrick: Climate change is one of the most urgent issues facing our planet today. We’ve long been advising our clients of the need to take action and identify a new type of business leader who could activate sustainability, at scale—leaders who can deliver financial success while also making the long-term sustainability and resilience of our world a top priority.

We’re committed to helping our clients find and develop sustainable leaders to progress their sustainability journeys. When you talk to our colleagues around the world, you’ll find that we’re equally as passionate about advancing our own path to a more sustainable future.

Setting science-based targets is strongly aligned with RRA’s values and culture. By using the science-based targets approach, we can move forward with the confidence that our actions are aligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement, and that we’re doing our part to protect the planet.



Kurt Harrison: It’s now about ensuring that we meet those ambitious targets. But first, let’s go back a step. How did you go about creating these targets and gain approval from the SBTi? What did the process involve?

Pam Fitzpatrick: The first step in our journey to getting our science-based targets approved was to calculate the emissions from our business activities, which we then had verified by a third party to give us confidence in its validity. From there, we analyzed the emissions data, which gave us a foundation for working out the level of ambition needed.

Following a rigorous review process in 2023, the SBTi approved our near and long-term science-based emissions reduction targets. It took the team a lot of work to achieve this milestone, so learning that we received approval was a proud moment for us all.

Now comes the real challenge to our entire firm: making changes to our business to meet those goals. It’s our duty to share our progress with our stakeholders. Our annual sustainability report is key to providing this transparency to our clients, colleagues, and value chain partners.



Kurt Harrison: How important is it to your clients that you have these approved targets in place?

Pam Fitzpatrick: Our clients are making bold commitments to impact climate change by cutting their GHG emissions. But, to achieve these goals, they need their value chain partners to do their part: Our emissions count as their emissions, and we can only get to net-zero emissions by working together.

We believe that the approval of our science-based targets by the SBTi—a step that none of our direct competitors have yet achieved—will show our clients that we’re taking our emissions reduction commitments seriously, and in turn, will make us an even more compelling business partner. It’s about moving forward on our climate journey together with the rigor of climate science and a commitment to trust.



RRA’s approved science-based targets

Overall Net-Zero Target

Russell Reynolds Associates commits to reach net-zero GHG emissions across the value chain by 2050.

Near-Term Targets

Russell Reynolds Associates commits to reduce absolute scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions 50% by 2030 from a 2019 base year. Russell Reynolds Associates also commits to reduce scope 3 GHG emissions from business travel by 55% per full-time employee equivalent within the same timeframe. Russell Reynolds Associates further commits that 30% of its suppliers by emissions, covering purchased goods and services, capital goods and upstream transportation and distribution will have science-based targets by 2027.

Long-Term Targets

Russell Reynolds Associates commits to reduce absolute scope 1, 2, and 3 GHG emissions by 90% by 2050 from a 2019 base year.