Addressing the Climate Crisis
In 2020, we saw a shift in the climate change conversation: the link between climate risk and a company's long-term success came to the forefront and the transition to a low-carbon economy became more important than ever.
While we have been committed to minimizing our impact on the planet for many years, we renewed our commitment in 2020 by voluntarily disclosing under the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) framework and Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) standards. These frameworks are standardizing data in a meaningful and actionable way.
We also conducted our first company-wide climate scenario analysis (CSA). Our qualitative evaluation included 1.5°C, 2°C and 4°C warming scenarios. Under the 4°C scenario, global warming reaches 4°C by 2100, relative to pre-industrial temperatures, and climate policy is less ambitious. In the 2°C scenario, global warming reaches 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and climate policy is more aggressive compared to the 4°C policy. In the 1.5°C scenario, global warming will be limited to rising well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century, and it is generally assumed that society acts rapidly to limit GHG emissions. We assessed a limited set of risks: price of carbon (transition risk), coastal flooding, high heat days, water stress, extreme cold days, average temperature, and air pollution (physical risks).
As we evaluated the impacts to our business under these three scenarios, we focused on the potential for increased operating costs and increased business interruption across our operations. We leveraged standardized, third-party climate modeling data, such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs), and applied internal data sources such as our global greenhouse gas emissions, water use, and facilities data.
- Water stress in India, China, Germany, Singapore, and the United States, where high-value operations are located, will pose an escalating risk of business interruption and increased operating costs, regardless of the future climate warming scenario.
- An increased number of high heat days in the United States, Singapore, and India will pose an escalating risk of business interruption and increased operating costs in both 4°C and 2°C CSAs, but will occur earlier and be greater in magnitude in the 4°C CSA.
- An increase in average temperatures in the United States and Germany will pose an escalating risk of business interruption and increased operating costs in both 4°C and 2°C CSAs, but will occur earlier and be greater in magnitude in the 4°C CSA.
- Coastal flooding and sea level rise threaten host cities in Taiwan, China, India, the United States, and the United Kingdom with an escalating risk of business interruption and increased operating costs, regardless of the future climate warming scenario.
- Workforce exposure to air pollution in the United States, China, and India will continue to pose a moderate risk of business interruption and increased operating costs, regardless of the future climate warming scenario.
- The risk of increased operating costs due to the price of carbon primarily occurs for facilities in Germany and China in the 4°C CSA and the 2°C CSA. This risk is greater in magnitude in the 1.5°C CSA for high emissions facilities in India, China, and the United States.
We are in the process of applying this analysis and are identifying potential strategic changes to address the plausible risks and opportunities identified in these scenarios.
In addition to looking at long-term climate risks and opportunities, we’re continually looking for ways to conserve water, minimize energy consumption, lower emissions, and reduce waste in the near term. As we design, build, and operate our facilities, we keep environmental performance top of mind. We look for opportunities to incorporate the highest levels of energy and water efficiency into all our new construction and tenant improvement projects.
On our path to achieving our 2025 GHG reduction goal, we've reduced our Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions by approximately 14 percent, and we achieved The Climate Registry's (TCR) Climate Registered™ Gold status. Additionally, with the closure of our acquisition of RF360 Holdings Singapore Pte. Ltd. (“RF360”), we reviewed and revised our GHG reduction goal baseline. This rebaselining was conducted with a third-party to ensure that our GHG inventory adheres to The Climate Registry General Reporting Protocol. Our GHG reduction goal baseline year remains 2014, but now includes RF360 Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions.
In India, we reduced our GHG emissions by approximately 22,485 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2 e) through the purchase of solar energy for our Bangalore offices. This represents the third year of output from our 10-year power purchase agreement to increase our renewable energy consumption. We also own and operate several on-site solar generating systems in San Diego, Bangalore and Hyderabad which are helping us achieve our GHG goal.
We’ve earned Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certifications for New Construction on several of our facilities in San Diego and India. All of our current and future interior design projects include the use of recyclable and recycled materials, no or low volatile organic compound (VOC) products and strive to follow LEED guidelines even if we don’t plan to certify the project with the local Green Building Council entities.
As our Company continues to grow, we work to be as eco-friendly as possible as we build new offices to accommodate our growth. Approximately 63 percent of our employees worldwide work in Qualcomm locations outside the United States, and most of these people work at our campus in Bangalore, India. The campus is in a “Water Scarcity” area, meaning water must be trucked into the area from other locations therefore, we work with the local community to mitigate our impact. We’ve collaborated with different non-profit organizations in installing a sewage treatment plant near Kundalahalli Lake. We also implement different water efficiency measures across our offices.
In San Diego, which has a semi-arid climate and gets 12 inches of rain, on average, per year, potable water is a precious commodity. In 2020, we completed construction on reclaimed water connections from our buildings to the City of San Diego’s purple pipe system. This significantly reduces our potable water consumption and replaces it with reclaimed water for industrial (cooling towers) and irrigation use. Annually, we will decrease our use of potable water by more than 80 million gallons while reducing our water spend.
We continue to reduce our waste to landfill through an active recycling campaign and food composting program. In San Diego, we have been able to divert more than 1022 tons from the landfill last year alone. These programs helped Qualcomm to recycle 216 tons of both lab and office E-waste, as well as another 11 tons of batteries, bulbs and other waste from our lab and facility operations. Our lab recycling also includes 20 tons of scrap metal, 16 tons of cardboard and 2 tons of lab plastics. Through these efforts we managed to drive our overall hazardous waste recycling rate to 97 percent (which includes our regulated e-waste), and our combined recycling rate to 56 percent for all of San Diego’s solid waste.
We also continue to participate in a Green Waste diversion program. These contributed to our composting 113 tons of food waste. Our on-site oil filtration service reduces cooking oil consumption with over 12,800 pounds of waste oil collected and recycled and reducing consumption by 9,800 pounds of oil through extending the life of the oil. This also represents eliminating over 1,250 pounds of plastic and cardboard every year from packaging.
To learn more about Qualcomm’s 2025 goals and ESG performance in 2020, access the full report here.