Biogen to Invest $250 Million in a 20-year Initiative to Eliminate its Use of Fossil Fuels and Improve Public Health

Biogen Inc.
·9 min read
  • After achieving carbon neutrality in 2014, Biogen further bolsters its action against climate change with the goal to become fossil fuel free by 2040 and initiates research collaborations with global leaders to help address the effects of fossil fuel-driven air pollution on health.

  • Air pollution, largely caused by fossil fuels, directly impacts climate change and contributes to nearly 9 million deaths annually with the most vulnerable suffering the greatest.

  • Foundational collaborations with MIT, the Harvard T.H. Chan School and World Business Council for Sustainable Development to create actionable strategies to identify necessary and achievable climate targets that improve human health outcomes, advance brain health research and support underserved communities.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Sept. 14, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Biogen Inc. (Nasdaq: BIIB) today announced Healthy Climate, Healthy Lives™, a groundbreaking $250 million, 20-year initiative to eliminate fossil fuels across its operations and collaborate with renowned institutions with the aim to improve health, especially for the world’s most vulnerable populations.

Building on its long-standing commitment to corporate responsibility, Biogen’s goal is to eliminate its fossil fuel emissions by 2040, as well as be a catalyst for positive change by advancing the science around how fossil fuels impact human health and taking action to promote climate and health equity. Fossil fuel emissions drive the climate crisis and emit harmful air pollutants that are a leading cause of death around the globe,1 claiming nearly 9 million lives annually2 with the greatest toll on the most vulnerable. 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. It is Biogen’s objective to advance the science in this area. With this announcement, Biogen becomes the first Fortune 500 company committing to become fossil fuel free across its operations by 2040.

“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. By doing so, Biogen will play its part to address and impact dramatic health disparities among people around the world, as well as build a stronger, more sustainable future for all.”

“The breadth of Biogen’s initiative is striking. I am not aware of any other company that has pledged to go fossil fuel free across their entire global operations,” said Bill Sisson, Executive Director, World Business Council for Sustainable Development North America. “While others are taking significant steps to get to net zero carbon emissions, Biogen is taking the next step by eliminating fossil fuel use in all aspects of its business. I applaud their ambition.”

In 2014 Biogen took a leadership position on climate change by becoming carbon neutral. Since then -- as climate science has evolved and given mounting evidence that the burdens of climate change are not shared equally -- Biogen determined it was imperative to establish aggressive new targets in line with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change guidance and approved by the Science Based Targets Initiative.

Healthy Climate, Healthy Lives has two principal components:

  1. Biogen intends to become fossil fuel free – to go beyond carbon neutrality by eliminating emissions on an accelerated timeframe. The company plans to:

    • Power operations entirely by renewable energy by 2040.

    • Support and encourage suppliers to become fossil fuel free. Biogen’s objectives include that 80 percent of suppliers commit to science-based targets by 2025 and that 50 percent source 100 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030, expanding to 90 percent of suppliers by 2040.3

    • Transition its fleet of more than 1,500 vehicles to electric by 2025 and deploy infrastructure for workplace charging at more than 30 corporate locations.

    • Establish new green chemistry targets by 2021, integrating these principles into all stages of therapy development by 2023. Biogen intends that all products achieve more than 90 percent of the green chemistry targets by 2030.

    • Address fossil fuel-derived plastics by eliminating, minimizing or closed-loop recycling all plastics across all business functions and eliminating plastics in secondary and tertiary packaging by 2040.

    • Actively support other institutions in their efforts to combat climate change by increasing investments in high-performing ESG (environmental, social and governance) companies and investment funds.

    • Assist employees’ ability to go fossil fuel free in their homes and enable them to invest in ESG options in eligible retirement plans.

  2. Biogen is collaborating with global leaders, including MIT and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, 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.

“Biogen’s collaboration will inject an exciting new facet into the Joint Program: inclusion of human health and well-being as key new considerations in decision-making regarding the best pathways forward to address the global climate challenge,” said Joint Program Co-Director Ronald Prinn, TEPCO Professor of Atmospheric Science in the MIT Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. “The sponsorship also will enable us to welcome a distinguished new Biogen Fellow who will pursue this objective through work with the MIT Technology and Policy Program Research to Policy Engagement Initiative.”

“Climate change has a direct impact on health today, and people of color and low-income communities are being hit first and worst by this crisis,” said Dr. Aaron Bernstein, Interim Director of Harvard Chan C-CHANGE. “The climate crisis is an urgent public health issue and one that healthcare systems, particularly community health centers, are unprepared to address, whether in terms of infrastructure, operations or standards of care. Biogen is stepping up to support a first-of-its-kind program to address this gap, with a goal of improving health and care delivery in marginalized communities.”

The Healthy Climate, Healthy Lives initiative will be divided across two principal areas during a 20-year period: the company’s operations, including employee benefits and related programs; and support of new collaborations. The initiative’s funding will start in 2021.

For more information about Biogen’s Healthy Climate, Healthy Lives commitment and the components of the framework, please visit biogen.com/hchl.

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1 The University of Chicago. “Particulate air pollution is the single greatest threat to human health globally,” The Air Quality Life Index (AQLI): https://aqli.epic.uchicago.edu/pollution-facts/
2 Jos Lelieveld. “Loss of life expectancy from air pollution compared to other risk factors: a worldwide perspective,” Cardiovascular Research, Volume 116, Issue 11 (2020): https://academic.oup.com/cardiovascres/article/116/11/1910/5770885
3 Supplier percentages dictated by spend

About Biogen
At Biogen, our mission is clear: we are pioneers in neuroscience. Biogen discovers, develops and delivers worldwide innovative therapies for people living with serious neurological and neurodegenerative diseases as well as related therapeutic adjacencies. One of the world’s first global biotechnology companies, Biogen was founded in 1978 by Charles Weissmann, Heinz Schaller, Kenneth Murray and Nobel Prize winners Walter Gilbert and Phillip Sharp. Today Biogen has the leading portfolio of medicines to treat multiple sclerosis, has introduced the first approved treatment for spinal muscular atrophy, commercializes biosimilars of advanced biologics and is focused on advancing research programs in multiple sclerosis and neuroimmunology, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, neuromuscular disorders, movement disorders, ophthalmology, immunology, neurocognitive disorders, acute neurology and pain.

We routinely post information that may be important to investors on our website at www.biogen.com. Follow us on social media – Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube.

Biogen Safe Harbor
This news release contains forward-looking statements, made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, including statements relating to the potential benefits and results that may be achieved through our Healthy Climate, Healthy Lives initiative; the anticipated timeline of our Healthy Climate, Healthy Lives initiative; capital allocation and investment strategy; and our strategy and plans. These forward-looking statements may be accompanied by words such as “aim,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “could,” “estimate,” “expect,” “forecast,” “goal,” “intend,” “may,” “objective,” “plan,” “potential,” “possible,” “will,” “would” and other words and terms of similar meaning. You should not place undue reliance on these statements or the scientific data presented.

These statements involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those reflected in such statements, including, without limitation: risks that the goals of our Healthy Climate, Healthy Lives initiative will be completed in a timely manner or at all; uncertainty as to whether the anticipated benefits of the our Healthy Climate, Healthy Lives can be achieved; risks of unexpected hurdles, costs or delays; and the direct and indirect impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on our business, results of operations and financial condition. The foregoing sets forth many, but not all, of the factors that could cause actual results to differ from our expectations in any forward-looking statement. Investors should consider this cautionary statement, as well as the risks factors identified in our most recent annual or quarterly report and in other reports we have filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. These statements are based on our current beliefs and expectations and speak only as of the date of this news release. We do not undertake any obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future developments or otherwise.

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