Our Climate Progress in 2020

Well, it’s that time of year again to break out the #CarbonFootprint calculators to see how we’ve done on our climate commitments in 2020.

Our Climate Targets

Last year, by offsetting double our 2019 emissions we were able to achieve #CarbonNegative / #ClimatePositive status. See last years blog: Net Zero? We are carbon negative! We also developed a #Climate action plan and set ourselves some ambitious targets, including:

  1. Maintain net-zero emissions
  2. Maintain our #CarbonNegative status by offsetting more emissions than we produce
  3. Reduce our actual emissions with the ultimate aim of achieving actual zero emissions by 2030
Polar bear and cubs

The impact of the pandemic

Well obviously we weren’t expecting a global pandemic. Unfortunately, this has meant that some of our climate action targets became unachievable.

Our biggest contribution to carbon emissions is through the electricity we use and the travel we undertake . Like many offices around the world, our electricity use dropped significantly this year. But as this is mainly due to working from home, in reality, this electricity use was simply transferred from the office to our homes. Business-related electricity use in our homes is practically impossible to quantify with any accuracy. So for 2020s carbon calculations we are assuming that the overall amount of electricity we used for business purposes would be similar to what it was in 2019. In reality, though, our actual electricity use is likely to have been marginally lower in 2020, with fewer members of staff and therefore fewer devices being used.

Increased emissions due to travel

Prior to the pandemic, we would have car-pooled to save on emissions. However, due to the Covid-19 restrictions and the desire to minimise the spread of the virus we have had to travel to sites in separate cars. This inevitably means that our contributions to carbon emissions through travel have increased significantly in 2020. We countered this as far as we could by focussing more on local projects closer to home and offering more attractive rates for sites that are closer to us. We have also been able to provide some of our other services remotely that would previously have been conducted on sites, such as training services and project meetings. And that is a change we hope we can carry forward into post-pandemic times.

Overall though, our total carbon emissions have increased this year. This is entirely due to increased emissions from travel. But this is just a setback. Through carbon offsetting, provided by The Gold Standard (www.goldstandard.org), we have been able to maintain #NetZero emissions. Not only that but, like last year, we have chosen to offset double our carbon emissions. We may have been unable to reduce our actual emissions this year as planned but we are still as committed as ever to achieving actual zero emissions by 2030.

Where do we go from here?

Let’s hope for a better year in 2021. Let’s take heed of the lessons we have learned as a result of this pandemic: how so many people can work remotely; how so many businesses can operate remotely; how our lives are dependent upon action on the climate and biodiversity crisis to help prevent future pandemics; and how we can work together rapidly on an unprecedented scale against all odds to tackle global emergencies.

We will continue to provide updates on our progress and we love hearing from all of you about what you are doing! Together we can make the significant and rapid changes that are required – we know now that we can do it!. All of us, big and small, have to play our part.