Managing our carbon emissions

Our carbon emissions are relatively low compared to many sectors, as we set out in our statement on climate-related financial risk, found within our financial statements. However, they’re our biggest environmental impact, and we want to play our part in contributing to the UK Government’s targets of reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

2022 marked the conclusion of our most recent set of public, five-year environmental targets set against our 2007 baseline, all of which we met.

For more information on our 15 year carbon journey, see our Acting on carbon: lessons learnt document.

Our targets to 2022 were:

  • to reduce our total operational carbon emissions (tonnes CO2e) by 40%
  • to reduce carbon emissions from business travel (tonnes CO2 e) by 33% per FTE
  • to purchase 100% of electricity from verified renewable sources, eliminating our scope 2 carbon emissions
  • to remain carbon neutral by continuing to offset 100% of our total scope 1, 2, and 3 carbon emissions (tonnes CO2e) as reported each year

These also support the targets for PwC globally.

Between 2007 and 2022 we reduced our overall carbon footprint, including emissions associated with our travel, waste and materials, by 83% , against a target of -40%. Over the same period, we grew our revenue by 84%. Our emissions per FTE from Scope 3 business travel were down by 84% compared to our 2007 baseline. We also completed our five-year programme to have all our UK offices supplied with renewable electricity generated by wind or solar, eliminating our scope 2 emissions. We continue to offset 100% of our residual emissions. Although our emissions increased in 2022, following the easing of pandemic-related restrictions, we remain on track for our commitment to reach Net Zero by 2030.

We pioneer new, low carbon technologies wherever feasible. And we try to pass on what we've learnt 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
  • buying renewable energy from certified sources wherever practicable
  • 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, including food
  • assessing the carbon impact of our technology usage, and exploring ways in which our business, people, suppliers and clients can use technology more effectively and responsibly
  • sharing our knowledge of carbon accounting, management and reporting from our client work and operational experiences across our networks to accelerate best practice
  • offsetting our Scope 1, 2 and 3 carbon emissions by buying carbon credits certified under the REDD+, CBB and VCS 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. In 2022 we achieved the Carbon Trust’s Route to Net Zero Standard, and in the process, became the first organisation to reach their ‘Advancing’ tier, which recognises our progress on our own journey to Net Zero. Additionally, we were recognised as a carbon management leader by EcoVadis and retained our platinum EcoVadis sustainability rating. We also support the global PwC network response to the CDP.

You can find out more about our specific environmental impacts and solutions, in our pages on business travel, energy consumption, material 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. 

Find out more

Valuing our impact

In 2017, using our Total impact framework, we estimated the societal impact of our total greenhouse gas emissions at £65m. However, only 0.1% of it was attributable to our direct operations, down 45% from five years earlier. The vast majority fell outside of our own operations, and we’re continuing to try to understand ways to reduce this impact with our key suppliers.

Supply chain carbon emissions

Each year we ask our key suppliers to provide us with information which allows us to assess their environmental performance.

To reflect our net zero commitments, we have made additional targets aligned and approved by the SBTi in 2021. One specific item within our Science-Based Targets (SBT) is that 50% of our suppliers (by emissions) have set their own science-based target by FY25 (June 2025). This target covers our purchased goods and services emissions, with the exception of business travel and energy, which are covered under separate commitments.

By January 2024, over 46% of our overall suppliers (by emissions) reported that they already have set a science-based decarbonisation target, with an additional 11% committed to set their SBT.

In addition, we also host a sustainability forum each year, to raise awareness, upskill our key suppliers, and communicate our key priorities. Building on our previous forums focusing on our suppliers’ decarbonisation journeys and net zero ambitions, the 2024 Supplier Sustainability Forum further recognised the inevitable role that nature and biodiversity plays in driving a net zero future. Within this, we delved beyond carbon emissions to explore the critical relationship between business and nature - and how this is a crucial element in delivering on our suppliers’ net zero and sustainability goals.

Contact us

Marissa Thomas

Marissa Thomas

Managing Partner & Chief Operating Officer, PwC United Kingdom

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