Biogen invests $250 million in a 20-year initiative to accelerate action on the greatest challenges of our time: climate, health and equity.
Fossil fuel-related air pollution not only contributes to the climate crisis, it claims 9 million lives annually, making it one the world’s top killers1. Evidence shows that fossil fuel emissions play a direct role in the worsening of various health conditions, and emerging data suggests possible links to COVID-19 as well as brain health.
Healthy Climate, Healthy Lives™ is a bold 20-year, $250 million initiative to address this challenge. We aim to eliminate fossil fuels across our operations and collaborate with renowned institutions to advance the science, improve human health outcomes, advance brain health research and support underserved communities.
“Our Healthy Climate, Healthy Lives initiative further builds on Biogen’s long-standing strategy to deal with climate change by addressing the interrelated challenges of climate and health, including in the realm of brain health,” said Michel Vounatsos, CEO, Biogen. “Biogen was the first company in the life sciences industry to become carbon neutral. We believe that it is time to take even greater action by implementing a well-defined program that examines how we live, how we do business and how we consume energy.”
Together, our goal is to create an equitable future where everyone enjoys a healthy climate and a healthy life. It’s where science meets humanity.
The Need for Action is Clear
The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted dramatic health disparities as well as air pollution’s role in compounding health risks. Evidence is also emerging around fossil fuels’ potential role in accelerating diseases, as well as cognitive decline. For Biogen, which discovers, develops and delivers innovative therapies for people living with serious neurological and neurodegenerative diseases, there is an imperative to pioneer solutions.
At the same time, the data on climate has changed, making the need for urgent action even clearer.
Biogen has been a long-standing leader on climate action and is committed to following the science to avoid the most severe consequences to human health and to our planet. Read Biogen’s Climate Change Position Statement.
Our Commitment to Go Beyond Net Zero
Healthy Climate, Healthy Lives is Biogen’s long-term commitment to go beyond carbon neutral and net zero. The framework below demonstrates our commitment to this vision – a plan that will continue to evolve with stakeholder input and as new scientific evidence and commercially scalable solutions become available.
Biogen has had its emissions reduction targets approved by the Science Based Targets initiative as consistent with levels required to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. The targets covering greenhouse gas emissions from Biogen’s operations are consistent with reductions required to keep warming to 1.5°C, the most ambitious goal of the Paris Agreement. Our goal is to reduce absolute Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions 55% by 2032 and 100% by 2040 from a 2019 base year, with 80% of suppliers – by spend, covering purchased goods and services and capital goods – will have science-based targets by 2025.
Healthy Climate, Healthy Lives has two principal components:
- We pledged to become fossil fuel free, eliminating emissions on an accelerated timeframe, going far beyond carbon neutral. Learn how Biogen aims to go fossil fuel free.
- We are collaborating with global leaders including Harvard T.H. Chan School and MIT to use data science and predictive analytics to drive strategies to mitigate environmental and health impacts from climate change as well as influence policy and improve health outcomes, particularly for the world’s most vulnerable populations. Learn more about the collaboration.
What does it mean to go “beyond net zero”?
- Carbon neutral means to balance the emission of CO₂ by removing an equal amount of CO₂ from the atmosphere (often through carbon offsets).
- Net zero means to balance the emission of all greenhouse gases by removing an equivalent amount of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
- Fossil fuel free means to stop burning fossil fuels and eliminate the resulting emissions.
Principal Component 1:
100% RENEWABLE ENERGY ACROSS OPERATIONS
FOSSIL FUEL REDUCTION BY SUPPLIERS
GREEN CHEMISTRY TARGETS
FOSSIL FUEL-DERIVED PLASTICS
FINANCIAL DUTY AND INVESTMENTS
Principal Component 2:
Healthy Climate, Healthy Lives is Biogen’s long-term goal to go beyond carbon neutral and net zero. We will work with leading institutions to create a new roadmap for climate action and health, advance the science, advocate for climate-related policy change and convene decision-makers and other key stakeholders to advance collective action.
- Collaborating to advance the science and set new targets – We will work with renowned institutions to use data science and predictive analytics to drive strategies to mitigate climate and health impacts from climate change as well as influence policy and improve health outcomes, particularly for the world’s most vulnerable populations.
The collaboration with the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change and the MIT Technology and Policy Program will support the creation of new models of how different climate actions impact human health. The insights will be used to bridge research-to-policy gaps, influence policy decisions and advance training of the next generation of scientists and leaders for far-reaching impact.
- We also plan to advance the science on fossil fuels and brain health, convening the world’s leading researchers to build a scientific consensus, identify pressing gaps and sponsor research to advance understanding of the health implications of this potential dynamic.
- Creating new approaches to help under-resourced healthcare centers reduce climate risks to improve resiliency and enhance patient health. Climate change and air pollution are already harming human health, but few healthcare centers are prepared. Biogen will lead the way, working with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment (Harvard Chan C-CHANGE) to help under-resourced healthcare clinics become more climate resilient and improve patient health.
- Engaging global leaders to influence the dialogue and agenda for change – Biogen recognizes that the most promising new thinking must rapidly reach global scale. We are stepping up to lead new initiatives; engage with renowned institutions, governments, civil society and its peers; and share its insights and advocate for science-based progress at the intersection of climate, health and equity. We are the first U.S. pharmaceutical company to join the Business Ambition for 1.5◦C.
We are engaging with:
- Ceres, the Environmental League of Massachusetts, We Mean Business and many others to advocate for more science-based policies and rapid action.
- The Climate Group’s RE100 and EV100 campaigns, supporting the use of 100% renewable electricity and 100% electric vehicles.
- United Nations initiatives including the UN Global Compact and the Business Ambition for Climate and Health.
- The World Business Council for Sustainable Development
- TheWorld Economic Forum, which provides a platform to advance the dialogue and set joint, cross-section agendas for action.
With these leading global organizations and other collaboration partners, we aim to advance a forward-looking research agenda on the health impacts of fossil fuel use, make new insights broadly available and elevate the evidence-based strategies that can deliver the greatest benefits for planetary and human health.
Biogen supports the conclusions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that to prevent the worst impacts of climate change, we need to keep the global temperature rise below 1.5°C. Without immediate, significant and sustained action to reduce anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the global temperature rise will exceed the 1.5° target, which is likely to have severe consequences for human health and broader ecological well-being. Read Biogen’s Climate Position.
The evidence is growing that climate change also harms human health. The World Health Organization identifies climate change as “the greatest threat to global health in the 21st century.”2 Around the world, direct and indirect health impacts are already being felt in a variety of ways, from extreme weather events to the spread of infectious diseases. Fossil fuels are driving the climate crisis and directly harming human health. The greatest burden falls on the most vulnerable and least served portions of society, including children and the elderly, those with the lowest incomes, and marginalized and minority groups.