As the first among peers, international engineering company COWI aims to transform its business and reach 100 per cent revenue within sustainability-related projects in three to five years’ time.
COWI steps up as frontrunner on sustainability
“This is one of the strongest statements in COWI history and with the decision not to take on any projects which are accommodating the exploration of fossil fuels from now on, we are accepting the role as one of the frontrunners worldwide within our line of business,” says Lars-Peter Søbye, Group CEO.
In light of the current climate crisis, the world needs real action in order to hand over a sustainable and liveable world to future generations. COWI will therefore allocate all resources to projects that move customers towards sustainability. As the first among peers, COWI promises to have 100 per cent of its revenue from projects driving sustainability within three to five years.
“This is by far one of the boldest decisions we have made during my +30 years at COWI. But it’s the right thing to do, if we seriously want to tackle the climate crisis, and this shows how we put actions behind words,” says Lars-Peter Søbye, Group CEO.
He continues: “Sustainability is at the heart of COWI’s DNA, our new vision and our upcoming strategy. With our extended expertise within sustainability, we have a special responsibility to accelerate the green transition, which is also the biggest growth opportunity in COWI history. We need to be ready to seize green projects and support our customers in the green transition.”
Lars-Peter Søbye acknowledges that exiting fossil fuel projects will have an impact on some customers, employees and business. In 2021, fossil fuel projects made up around five per cent of the Group’s turnover, and around 45 per cent of the revenue came from projects that are currently not directly related to the green transition. This will change, says the CEO.
“With a new strategy comes new priorities as well as new opportunities. The world will still need roads and airports, and we will be helping our customers in these areas, but we must and will deliver solutions that make the world more sustainable, regardless of segments. We will still work with energy majors on their green transition, but not on projects exploring or producing fossil fuels. When it comes to establishing, for example, offshore wind or green hydrogen projects, we are pleased to assist,” says Lars-Peter Søbye.
He adds that this strategic shift also entails people development opportunities within his own company and the business in general.
Focus on sustainability will lead to growth
Lars-Peter Søbye believes the business upside of allocating all resources towards sustainability will beat the negative financial impact of withdrawing from fossil fuel projects.
“Given the ‘EU Green Deal’ and the massive investments planned in the US, around 800 billion euros and around 1.75 trillion US dollars are allocated to investments in the green transition and sustainability. On top of this, pension funds will also invest billions in green energy and infrastructure. Being a preferred partner thanks to our technical expertise and customer centricity opens an unseen palette of opportunities for COWI and our people,” concludes Lars-Peter Søbye.
Immediate next steps
COWI will honour its current fossil fuel contracts, but effective from now, the company will no longer participate in tenders for new fossil fuel projects.
“First of all, we are telling our customers that nothing will change in the short term. We are fully committed to delivering on our promises and the agreements that we already have in place. Second, we fully acknowledge that the world still needs oil and gas, and we must therefore accept that our customers will ask other consultants to help them continue their fossil fuel projects. Third, we will spend most of our time talking about all the other sustainable solutions they need, as they too must accelerate their journey to become a green company,” ends Lars-Peter Søbye.