Thales Accelerates Its ESG Action Plan to Help Build a Safer, Greener, More Inclusive World

Defence Industry

Paris: French company Thales has dedicated its first Investor Day to Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues and would  present its new roadmap for a low carbon future and explain how its advanced technologies are helping to make the world safer, more environmentally responsible and more inclusive.

The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Patrice Caine and members of the Group’s Executive Committee will present Thales’s priority actions in these areas. In particular, the leadership team will explain how the Group is stepping up its low carbon strategy and outline its plan to achieve “net zero” by 2040.

The speakers will also present the major role that Thales’s future solutions — in the fields of space, aerospace, defence and digital identity and security — can play in building a more sustainable future. Thales will also announce the publication of its Digital Ethics Charter, which outlines the Group’s position on the responsible use of technologies such as trusted AI and biometrics.

Thales accelerated its action plan and raised its targets, with the following key objectives:

Fight global warming by aiming for “net zero” emissions by 2040: in 2019, the Group set itself ambitious targets for the reduction of its operational CO2 emissions, and is now raising those targets and aiming to achieve a 35% reduction by 2023, a 50% reduction by 2030, and “net zero” by 2040.

These targets are consistent with the Paris Agreement’s objective of limiting global warming to 1.5°. The Group will begin the SBTi (Science-Based Target initiative) certification process to substantiate its progress towards these goals. In addition, the Group expects to adopt eco-design principles for 100% of its new products and services by 2023.

Thales will also engage more methodically with suppliers and provide more support for their own efforts to reduce carbon emissions, with 100% of the action plans of the 150 most polluting suppliers approved and launched by 2023, and systematic engagement with suppliers to bring them into line with its goal of cutting emissions by 50% by 2030.

As part of its exercise to increase  diversity, the Group confirms its goal of having at least three women on at least 75% of its management committees by 2023, and for women to account for 20% of the Group’s most senior management positions by the same date. At the same time, Thales will continue its outreach activities with educational establishments to raise awareness of the career opportunities for women in engineering and other technical fields.

The company would continue to meet the highest standards of ethical conduct and compliance, with systematic training and certification and the adoption of a digital ethics charter as a framework for the development and responsible use of digital technologies.

It would  Increase the health and safety of all employees, with a targeted 30% reduction in workplace accidents by 2023.

“Thales’s purpose of ‘building a future we can all trust’ means helping to build a safer, more environmentally responsible world and more inclusive societies. To accomplish our mission, we draw on science and technologies — like artificial intelligence today and quantum technologies tomorrow — to tackle these issues in both the physical world and the virtual world. We are making this contribution with modesty, with perseverance, and with the intimate conviction that this is how Thales will deliver sustainable growth over the long term.” Caine said.

Thales is drawing on its technology expertise to fight global warming. In the civil aviation sector, for example, optimising aircraft operations has been identified as one of the major ways to achieve the objective of halving emissions by 2050. Optimising air transport would reduce CO2 emissions by 10-15%, or by more than 100 million tonnes of CO2, by 2040. As a world leader in flight management systems (FMS) and air traffic management (ATM), the Group is developing flight path optimisation solutions that would reduce aircraft CO2 emissions by up to 10% in the near-term future.

For Earth observation programmes, the Group is leveraging its global leadership in sensors and satellites to expand space-based surveillance capabilities and better understand climate phenomena. Thales Alenia Space has been selected for five of the six missions planned for the coming years on the Copernicus Earth observation and climate monitoring programme. The company’s involvement will include developing instruments to measure the amount of atmospheric CO2 caused by human activity. The instruments will determine the types of emissions with unprecedented accuracy (within 4 m²) to detect peaks in pollution around a given factory or city.

As an expert in critical-decision support solutions, the Group is developing disruptive technologies that will make artificial intelligence more energy-efficient. Thales is the first company to develop “frugal” AI based on algorithms that only require small amounts of energy. Applying the principles of eco-design, Thales researchers are developing low-energy algorithms as an integral part of the design of neural network architectures. Whenever possible, they also prioritise knowledge-based symbolic or hybrid AI, which are much more energy efficient. Thales developers are also shifting their attention from Big Data to Smart Data, favouring quality over quantity, and improving electronics design and implementation to offer electronic circuits that consume very little energy.

Thales is also  stepping up the  development of its  quantum technologies (sensors, communications and post-quantum cryptography), which will deliver significant gains in environmental performance.  The Group is also actively promoting its eco-designed smartcards, which are expected to account for 35% of all its smartcard sales by 2025.

Thales is stepping up its investments in cybersecurity to cope with rapid growth in cyber threats. The Group is the European leader in cybersecurity and expects to generate more than 1.5 billion euros in annual sales in this area by 2025.

Thales publishes Digital Ethics Charter for responsible use of digital technologies, and is taking steps to nurture an ESG culture within its teams.