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.
Our carbon management strategy involves:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.