Managing our carbon emissions

Our carbon emissions are low compared to other sectors, but they’re still our biggest environmental impact.

We want to play our part, contributing to the UK’s targets of cutting greenhouse gases by 34% and 80% by 2020 and 2050 respectively, against 1990 levels. So we’ve set a target to reduce our absolute operational carbon emissions by 25% by 2017, decoupling our environmental impacts from business growth.

We pioneer new, low carbon technologies wherever feasible contributing to the 23% reduction we’ve seen in our carbon emissions since 2007 (see chart below). And we try to pass on what we've learned to our clients and others through case studies and downloadable 'Lessons Learned', such as our report on how we cut our energy and carbon intensity by a third in the first five years of our target.

Our approach

Our carbon management strategy involves:

  • measuring and reporting our carbon footprint
  • setting targets for reducing our absolute carbon emissions (i.e. scope 1, 2 and 3)
  • minimising our emissions by improving operational efficiencies and investing in technological innovation
  • working with our suppliers to understand the opportunities to improve our supply chain footprint
  • sharing our knowledge of carbon accounting, management and reporting from our client work and operational experiences across our networks to accelerate best practice
  • encouraging and helping our people to reduce the emissions they generate in their working lives
  • buying energy from renewable sources whenever practicable
  • offsetting our Scope 1,2 and 3 carbon emissions by buying carbon credits certified under the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS).

We follow a rigorous process to calculate our carbon emissions, using DEFRA guidelines, and we report them in our voluntary annual operational scorecard. We also participate in the voluntary CDP, as well as the UK Carbon Reduction Commitment. We’ve held the Carbon Trust standard since 2009, for measuring, managing and reducing our carbon emissions, and in 2013 we achieved the standard for the third time.

For more about our specific environmental impacts and solutions, read about what changes we've made in our business travelenergy consumptionwaste generation and material consumption.

Opportunities and risk

The environmental impacts of our business represent both a business risk and opportunity.

For instance, our clients increasingly expect us to actively manage our carbon emissions and our reputation is influenced by our approach to being a responsible business. So, effectively tackling our carbon footprint also gives us a chance to innovate and strengthen our reputation as a sustainability leader, differentiating us from competitors. We also know from our internal analysis that it improves employee engagement and increases their view of the firm as a great place to work.

But cutting carbon also cuts costs because it’s about reducing the energy we consume and the travelling we do, as well as the financial cost associated with both our participation in the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) and our choice to offset. We estimate that we’ve saved over £14m in energy and carbon costs since 2007 as a result of our initiatives.

On the other hand, climate change poses other potential risks to our business including disruption to travel or energy, both which are integral to the operation of our business.

You can find out more about our overall sustainability risks, specific climate change risks and opportunities, and our governance.


We're tackling our carbon emissions with a range of initiatives that span our suppliers as well as operational travelenergy consumption and waste.

Valuing our impact

Using our Total impact framework, we’ve valued our total greenhouse gas impact at £54m. The vast majority of this falls outside of our own operations, so we’re working more closely with suppliers on measuring and reducing their carbon emissions – see our supply chain page for more.