Managing our carbon emissions

Our carbon emissions are low compared to many 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 37% by 2020 and 80% by 2050, against 1990 levels.

We set a target to reduce our absolute operational carbon emissions by 25% by 2017 against our 2007 baseline. Achieving a 5% drop in 2017 brings our total emissions reduction to -29% (scope 1, 2 & 3), significantly exceeding that ten year goal (see chart below). This includes a 77% reduction in our combined Scope 1 & 2 emissions.

It’s a result that we’re delighted with as we continue to decouple our environmental impacts from business growth. It’s also helped us to save an estimated £21m in operational energy and carbon costs over that period, as a result of our initiatives.

We pioneer new, low carbon technologies wherever feasible. And we try to pass on what we've learned to our clients and others through case studies and downloadable 'Lessons Learned'.

Our approach and programmes

Our carbon management strategy involves:

  • setting targets for reducing our absolute carbon emissions (scope 1, 2 and 3)
  • minimising our emissions by improving operational efficiencies and investing in innovative technologies and approaches to reduce our resource consumption and the waste we generate
  • minimising unnecessary travel by encouraging our people to adopt new technologies to collaborate with colleagues and clients remotely
  • 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 renewable energy from certified sources wherever practicable
  • offsetting our Scope 1,2 and 3 carbon emissions by buying carbon credits certified under the REDD+, CBB andVCS standards.

Measuring and reporting our emissions

We follow a rigorous process to calculate our carbon emissions, using GHG Protocol and Defra guidelines, and we report them transparently each year in our annual scorecard, which is published with our Annual Report. We’ve held the Carbon Trust standard since 2009, for measuring, managing and reducing our carbon emissions. And we recently achieved the Carbon Trust Supply Chain level 2 standard. We also respond to the CDP each year.

You can find out more about our specific environmental impacts and solutions, in our pages on business travelenergy consumptionmaterial consumption, and waste generation

Offsetting our emissions

While we’ve significantly reduced our carbon emissions since 2007, the remaining emissions we produce still contribute to climate change, so we offset them to achieve carbon neutrality, by purchasing credits from carbon offsetting projects.

Our impacts

We’ve offset our ‘direct’, operational carbon emissions, as reported in each financial year, since 2007. In addition to the carbon benefits, some of the additional benefits of our support to those projects over that time include, cumulatively:

  • the protection of nearly 80,000 hectares of virgin forest from deforestation
  • the generation of over 200,000 megawatt hours of renewable energy - enough to meet the energy needs in our UK offices for almost five years
  • avoiding the release of more than 6 million normal cubic metres of methane, which was instead used in power generation

Over the years, we’ve supported a number of projects internationally, which promote renewable energy such as wind or hydroelectric power. But our TIMM analysis has shown that ‘land use’ is our second biggest environmental impact, because of the ‘indirect’ and ‘induced’ impacts in our value chain. So, while we only offset the emissions from our own business, we’ve worked with our carbon offset provider to increase our focus on REDD+ projects which work to avoid deforestation and forest degradation - key drivers of global carbon emissions - in biodiversity hotspots, through working with local communities.


Our offset projects

All three of the projects we support are REDD+ verified, and account for 100% of the emissions we reported in 2017.  They have also all achieved Gold Level status under the Climate, Community and Biodiversity (CCB) Standard.  Each project also meets the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), which ensures that our carbon credits are real, measurable, additional, permanent, independently verified, unique and traceable, with a transparent chain of custody, from issuance through to retirement.

Madagascar is considered to be one of the top five biodiversity hotspots in the world. More than 75% of all animal and plant species are endemic, while less than 10% of its primary vegetation is remaining. The Makira project plays an essential role in biodiversity protection by limiting deforestation in 360,000 hectares (more than twice the size of greater London) of the Makira forest and working with communities around the forest in a ‘protection zone’ of 320,000 hectares.

Based on the island of Borneo in Indonesia, this REDD+ project preserves carbon-dense tropical peat swamp by helping to halt deforestation of roughly 47,000 hectares of forest originally slated for conversion to palm oil plantations. The project focuses on both community development and biodiversity conservation, particularly the protection of the endangered Borneo Orangutan.

To deliver on its goals, the project actively engages local communities to improve food security, income opportunities, health care, and education.

The project seeks to comprehensively support the traditional livelihood of Brazil nut gathering and processing from the natural forest, increasing its economic value, and thereby directly benefiting concessionaires and creating stronger incentives for forest conservation. The project area is just over 290,000 ha, relating to land managed by almost 400 Brazil Nut Concessionaires. The main activities that cause deforestation in the region are agriculture and gold mining, both of which result in clearing of the forest.

Valuing our impact

Using our Total impact framework, we’ve valued our total greenhouse gas impact at £65m. Only 0.1% of it is attributable to our direct operations, down 45% from five years ago. The vast majority, however, falls outside of our own operations, so we’re continuing to work with suppliers to understand the opportunities reduce their impact.

Supply chain carbon emissions

In 2013 we asked our key suppliers to submit their emissions data to the CDP’s (formerly Carbon Disclosure Project’s) supply chain programme, as a way of sharing information on how they’re working to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change. We set a long-term target for 80% of them report their greenhouse gas emissions to CDP by 2017, and for 75% to have set a carbon reduction target. Our 2017 scorecard shows that 86% of our suppliers responded, which is a strong improvement from the baseline of 54%. However, only 52% disclosed that they had reduction targets in place. While this is an improvement on the baseline figure of 39% there is more work to do on this aspect of the programme.

Contact us

Bridget Jackson
Head of Corporate Sustainability
Tel: +44 (0)20 7213 2435

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