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Deloitte becomes founding partner to DCU Centre for Climate and Society

Professional services firm will commit approximately €530,000 over three years to support centre’s research agenda aiming to bridge the gap between ambition and action

07 March 2022 Deloitte today announces that it has become the founding partner to Dublin City University’s Centre for Climate and Society.

The Centre is Ireland’s first academic research centre devoted to leading societal responses to the climate crisis and has been established with the support of Deloitte. As part of a three-year commitment, the leading professional services firm will commit €176,000 annually to enable the centre to examine how different social arenas such as politics, media, education and policy can influence climate action.

Recent global research from Deloitte shows that concerns about climate change have increased significantly in recent months with 79% of business executives acknowledging the world is at a climate change tipping point, compared to 59% eight months prior.

Furthermore, almost all (97%) say that their companies have been affected by climate change, and Chief Sustainability Officers (CxOs) are feeling the pressure to act. Despite this, there is disconnect between ambition and action with companies less likely to implement actions that demonstrate they have embedded climate considerations into their culture and have the senior leader buy-in to effect meaningful transformation.

DCU Centre for Climate and Society

This centre will investigate how change can be facilitated and enabled in business and beyond, through communication and media, strengthened through policy and governance frameworks, and driven through responses in our education system and in business.

Bringing together expertise from various DCU faculties and other universities, the centre is dedicated to promoting a range of different approaches to thinking and talking about climate change to facilitate action, based on the premise that climate change is no longer a problem that the physical sciences alone can solve. The new relationship with Deloitte will also help the centre develop and grow its popular master’s programme, the MSc in Climate Change: Policy, Media and Society.

Commenting on the partnership, Harry Goddard, CEO of Deloitte Ireland said:

“It is a great honour for us at Deloitte to play a key role in the development of this important facility – the first of its kind. The time for incremental action on climate change is over. Now is the time for transformative change, and bold and effective leadership is crucial in terms of managing this."

"Deloitte’s recent global research shows that almost half of CxOs have already felt negative operational impacts and regulatory uncertainty because of climate change. In Ireland, it’s no different. Businesses across the country are recognising that the choices they make in the next decade will reinforce our early progress and create the market conditions to deliver decarbonisation at pace and scale. Vitally, businesses must also recognise their responsibility to ensure that the climate transition we are embarking on does not leave anyone behind."

He added that while the current crisis calls for a "period for self-reflection on whether we are playing our roles to the required level", it is also a call to action because "time is limited".

"We have done that self-reflection within Deloitte. We are reviewing how we operate and progressing our own journey to becoming net-zero. We are also supporting clients with our dedicated multidisciplinary sustainability team as they too look at how they can reduce the impact they have on climate change. However, we know we can and should do more. Collaboration amongst all the parties who can support this transformation can be hugely constructive. That is why it is so important to us to be the founding partner to the DCU Centre for Climate and Society, which will play a leading role in developing the policies and frameworks we need to manage this challenge.”

Speaking about the importance of the Centre for DCU and Deloitte’s partnership, Professor Daire Keogh, DCU President, said:

“The centre is a welcome addition to DCU’s efforts in addressing climate change. Its creation is a recognition that an all-of-society approach is essential if we are to rise to this urgent global challenge. The social sciences, humanities and other disciplines bring novel approaches and fresh thinking to the issues at stake and will play an increasing role in helping us to navigate towards a low carbon and sustainable society.”

In addition to the funding, Laura Wadding, Partner and Head of Deloitte’s sustainability offering, will sit on the advisory board to the centre.

This advisory board will bring together a wide range of international scholars and practitioners to guide the research agenda of the centre.Other members include environmental psychologist Prof Lorraine Whitmarsh (Bath University), Dr Jeanne Moore (National Social and Economic Council), and Matt McGrath (environment editor, BBC). Deloitte’s role in shaping the agenda, and its ongoing engagement with the centre will allow it to play a vital role in connecting its clients to the work of the centre, helping to further enhance the discussion on climate change and drive collaboration across a range of stakeholders.

Director of the Centre and Assistant Professor in DCU’s School of Communications, Dr David Robbins, said:

“It’s vital that we understand how various sections of society think and talk about climate change. Politics, policy, education, media, business - all these sectors have a part to play in tackling this crisis. We are delighted to have the support of Deloitte in establishing our centre.”