Net zero: can the UK reach its 2050 target?

In June 2019, parliament passed legislation requiring the government to reduce the UK’s net emissions of greenhouse gases by 100% relative to 1990 levels by 2050. This would make the UK a ‘net zero’ emitter.

This was once seen as a fairly ambitious target. Especially considering the previous commitment to an 80% reduction within the same timeframe. However, it has now become clear that achieving net zero by 2050 is imperative to tackling the catastrophic effects of climate change.

How close is the UK to reaching net zero?

To reach ‘net zero’, the UK must significantly reduce its emissions while simultaneously offsetting those that can’t be avoided. In this effort, the pandemic served as a hidden blessing. Thanks to reduced traffic, travel, waste and energy consumption, there was a record-breaking 10.7% fall in the UK’s carbon emissions in 2020. This resulted in a 48.8% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels, a milestone in the country’s net zero journey.

Yet despite this, the UK is set to breach its fifth carbon budget by at least 313Mt of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) according to research done by Green Alliance. And as workplaces open and travel resumes again, emission levels could return to pre-Covid levels. This could make meeting the sixth carbon budget, which recommends a reduction of 68% by 2030, challenging.

Is this achievable?

A recent report by The National Grid Electricity Operator (ESO) outlines 4 potential scenarios for decarbonisation in the UK. These were designed in part to lay out steps to meet the sixth carbon budget, and 3 of the scenarios see us reaching net zero by 2050. But, while this sounds promising, the report also explains that drastic changes are required to achieve future emissions targets.

The National Grid ESO’s head of strategy and regulation Matthew Wright said, “Our latest Future Energy Scenarios insight reveals a glimpse of a Britain that is powered with net zero carbon emissions, but it also highlights the level of societal change and policy direction that will be needed to get there.

“If Britain is to meet its ambitious emissions reduction targets, consumers will need a greater understanding of how their power use and lifestyle choices impact how sustainable our energy system will be – from how we heat our homes, to when we charge our future cars – and government policy will be key to driving awareness and change. 

“Britain is making significant progress towards achieving net zero. The fundamental changes outlined in our latest FES insight show just how important a coordinated approach will be between policymakers and industry if we’re to capitalise on that momentum.”

What does this mean for businesses?

The UK ramping up its decarbonisation efforts will impact businesses and communities of all sizes. If the recently published Transport Decarbonisation Plan is any indication of policies to come, the general public should prepare for drastic changes. The plan outlines the Government’s approach to decarbonising the highest-emitting sector. It includes bringing the ban on petrol and diesel cars and vans forward from 2035 to 2030. As well as a consultation on zero-emission bus fleets and lorries by 2040.

Other expected changes could include higher energy efficiency standards and extended mandatory carbon reporting. A recent example of this is the extension of mandatory display of annual energy certificates in all larger office buildings. This means that businesses will have to prioritise their energy management in the future. Fortunately, reducing waste and boosting your green credentials often results in both financial and reputational benefits.

How can EIC help?

At EIC we help businesses monitor and manage their energy and carbon with sustainability in mind. Our in-house team can guide you through energy monitoring, carbon footprinting, green procurement and compliance legislation. We are already partnering with leading UK private and public sector organisations – supporting them to transform their operations in line with ambitious targets.

Our aim is to provide you with holistic energy management and sustainable solutions. Helping to carry your business into a green future.

Contact us at EIC for a bespoke net zero roadmap for your organisation.

Mandatory display of annual energy certificates to be extended

In a new scheme proposed by the government, all larger commercial and industrial buildings will be mandated to display annual energy certificates. This will initially affect offices over 1,000m2of which there are approximately 10,000 in England and Wales. However, the proposal includes plans to extend to more varied sites in the future, including smaller buildings. So, why the change and how might it impact businesses in the UK?

What does the proposal include?

Currently, large commercial buildings are required to display an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) only if their total useful floor area is over 500 square metres, is frequently visited by the public, and an EPC has already been produced for the building’s sale, rental or construction. EPCs measure the building emission rate (kgCO2/m² per year) and primary energy use (kWh/m² per year) for the core HVAC and building fabric assets.

EPCs are valid for 10 years, once an EPC reaches the ten year point and expires, there is no automatic requirement to produce a new one. A further EPC will only be required when the property is next sold, let or modified.

In October 2019, the Government told the Climate Change Committee that it would consult on introducing a new scheme that would rate commercial and industrial buildings based on their actual energy consumption and carbon emissions.

As a result of this, the government launched a new consultation called ‘Introducing a Performance-Based Policy Framework in large Commercial and Industrial Buildings in England and Wales’. This is the first step towards introducing a national performance-based policy framework that aims to reduce energy consumption and emissions.

How does this differ from DECs?

A Display Energy Certificate (DEC) rates public sector buildings over 250m2 based on actual energy consumption, so why not simply expand this to commercial buildings? According to the proposal, the new rating framework will look to modernise and go beyond what (DECs) currently offer.

Why the change?

Larger office buildings use over 53% of the energy used by all commercial and industrial buildings. This means that more frequent audits and stricter oversight will help to root out waste and reduce overall consumption. Success from similar policies has already been seen in countries like Australia who reduced consumption by 34% in 10 years with the National Australian Built Environment Rating System.

In this global push for energy efficiency and retrofitting, the UK is falling behind. Since 2016, similar requirements have been mandatory in all non-residential buildings over 500m2 throughout the European Union.

What are the benefits of the proposal?

Mandating more frequent energy evaluations will help to identify areas of inefficiency or, at the very least, raise awareness around energy consumption. While retrofitting the UK’s predominantly old building stock is a daunting task, the benefits could be enormous. This initiative alone is predicted to save British businesses over £1 billion annually and reduce carbon emissions by 8m tonnes when completed.

The Government is also considering including waste, water usage and air quality standards. None of these are currently required for either EPCs or DECs, and could lead to further cost savings for businesses.

How can EIC help?

The government plans to introduce the new rating system in 3 phases over the 2020s. The 1st phase is aimed at the office sector and has been planned to start in April 2022. EIC helps its clients stay informed and prepared for policy shifts such as these. In a net zero economy, staying ahead of the curve will be crucial to business resilience and growth.

As emission reduction targets become more important, energy reporting will become an essential part of managing a successful business or property. EIC can help you stay compliant with fast-changing legislation by streamlining and simplifying any and all of your energy admin. Our energy specialists have extensive experience with EPBD requirements including DECs, EPC and TM44 certification. We can go beyond mandatory reporting and certification to ensure you are as sustainable and energy-efficient as possible.

EIC can help you stay ahead of the curve. To find out more contact us today.

Learning at work week – how EIC can help

Our capacity for learning is constantly growing. As we adapt and develop, so does our desire to further educate ourselves. For this reason the Learning at Work Week campaign was created. Since launching in 1999 as Learning at Work Day, the celebrations have now been elongated to a week, and are continuing to grow each year.

The programme focuses on encouraging ‘lifelong learners’ to extend their opportunities to learn by utilising time within the work-place. This will become a vital factor in the UK’s pathway to net zero. For a company to reduce energy, costs and environmental impacts, education and teamwork is vital. While utilising renewable energy sources continues to fast track us towards our net zero targets, continuing to educate ourselves allows us to understand the world around us and what it needs to survive.

We take a look at what the national campaign consists of, how it can help in the long term and how EIC can assist you in learning at work.

What is learning at work week?

Learning at work week is an annual event that spotlights the benefits of learning within the work-place. Running from the 17th-23rd of May, the campaign aims to stimulate curiosity and deepen connections with colleagues.

This year’s theme is ‘Made for Learning’, which has been split into three strands; human = learning, human = curiosity and human = connecting. The campaign works to show that education can carry on at any age, in any place, and that there is always more to learn. The organisers of the campaign offer several online events and activities, from creative pursuits to numeracy challenges. They are also encouraging work places to set their own educational goals depending on their individual teams.

The highly celebrated week is also the perfect time to teach staff about the importance of sustainability. Following the announcement of net zero targets by many countries across the world, the focus on a green future has never been more prominent. Schools, colleges and universities are working environmental studies into their daily syllabus, so why not work-places?

Setting sustainable aims and objectives or implementing green initiatives allows workplaces to reduce energy bills at no or relatively low-cost measures. By simply educating staff on the beneficial impacts lower energy consumption could have, businesses can reduce their energy bills significantly.

EIC’s energy saving training

At EIC, we understand that education can play a huge part in paving the way for a sustainable future. Our vast experience in energy management and team training allows us to further educate employees on the importance of efficiency.

Through training in sustainable strategies, energy management and efficiency, we are able to provide our clients with a comprehensive list of educational options. These strategies allow companies to learn more about how to reduce energy usage and expenditure. We are also able to visit your organisation to train your staff (or in house trainer) on site.

Our goal at EIC is to integrate sustainability and smart energy usage into every part of your business. This is why we offer an online energy awareness course that provides education on saving energy and water in the workplace. This information comes in the form of a handy booklet, gives simple and effective ways to save energy day-to-day. Actions as simple as turning off lights when you leave a room or powering down computers overnight can make a significant difference. Whether they are big or small, every sustainable measure is helping to reduce emissions and preserve the world around us.

Some of our other available sustainable services include:

  • Assessing your businesses situation
  • Monitoring your usage
  • Setting goals
  • Creating communications
  • Measuring and displaying results

Get in touch to hear more about our energy saving training and how we can help you towards your sustainable future.

Battery Storage: how can it benefit your business?

Renewable energy is key to building our sustainable future. The issue is that although solar and wind provide clean, inexpensive power, they only do so in the right conditions. A cloudy, windless day can lead to a significant drop in supply. This sort of intermittent power cannot provide the consistent energy we require, especially as our demand increases. This is why battery storage is becoming essential as we move away from fossil fuels.

Installing onsite power storage can be a simple process and technology breakthroughs have made it a viable and cost-effective option for many businesses. However, the benefits of battery storage go far beyond convenience. Developing an integrated battery solution is an effective way to fully optimise your energy capacity. It can enable businesses to become less reliant on the national grid, reduce CO2 emissions, and generate additional revenue for your business.

Reduce your electricity costs

Energy use at peak times can be expensive. Especially as it can have a huge effect on the non-commodity costs that you pay each year. Being able to purchase energy when it is at its cheapest and use it when you need it can make a huge difference to your utility bills.

Until battery technology came along, lowering your energy costs involved turning off devices or lowering usage. Battery storage is a far more flexible solution that offers opportunities outside of small-scale savings. When paired with renewable generation technology it can help you avoid non-commodity costs altogether. Or at the very least, help you avoid higher costs in times of peak demand.

Stabilise your energy supply

Having your own storage batteries guarantees a continuous source of power regardless of what is happening to the network. This reduces your reliance on the grid, protecting you from blackouts and local technical faults as well as securing a reliable energy supply.

Get paid to help balance the grid

With battery technology, energy can be stored for later use or sold back to the grid for additional revenue via potentially lucrative demand-side response (DSR) schemes. By becoming a demand-side supplier you are helping to balance the system and smooth out peaks in demand. This sort of initiative is a fundamental part of the government’s ongoing energy strategy. And further similar opportunities are likely to follow as we move towards 2050.

How EIC can help you store power

If your business could benefit from lower energy bills and a more stable supply, a battery setup could be the ideal solution. At EIC, we provide guidance on the installation of onsite generation and power storage.

While these systems can have great benefits on their own, the returns are even greater when working in tandem with other technology. We can offer energy management services that help improve your efficiency and further lower your expenses. If you would like more information on battery technology and want to explore your options, get in touch today.

Greenwashing – what is it and why should businesses avoid it?

As the world shifts towards a more sustainable future, consumers are opting for greener alternatives. And a growing pressure to ‘get green’ means that businesses are desperate to show their values align with environmental issues. This can sometimes result in ‘greenwashing’.

Without the correct knowledge, businesses risk prioritising superficially appealing demands to satisfy conscious consumerism. But as businesses around the world pledge to sustainability, indications of greenwashing can often go unnoticed.

Persistent greenwashing can undermine the importance of sustainability. As a consumer, trying to identify eco-friendly brands can be challenging enough. And with added greenwashed businesses, this task can feel overwhelming and next to impossible.

So, what is greenwashing and how can businesses avoid it?

What is greenwashing?

Coined in 1986 by environmentalist Jay Westerveld, ‘greenwashing’ refers to misinformation provided by a business to falsely present itself as environmentally friendly.

More often than not, greenwashing happens due to a lack of knowledge. While sustainability continues to become a more prominent topic of conversation, so does the pressure to comply. This means companies are increasingly keen to exhibit their sustainable credentials, even if they don’t have environmental expertise.

Greenwashing often distracts from significant environmental issues such as climate change and pollution. It can also misdirect environmentally conscious customers towards dis-ingenuine products. This is because it can be hard to differentiate between well intentioned businesses with those that are performatively green. ‘The six sins of greenwashing’, is a list of indicators that can help consumers spot a business that has been greenwashed.

The six sins of greenwashing

The six sins of greenwashing

No proof: Claims made about a lessening of a businesses environmental impact are not verified by third party certifications.

Vagueness: Broad, insubstantial or convoluted claims such as ‘all natural’, ‘made with recycled materials’ or ‘eco-friendly’, with no further information.

The hidden trade-off: Marketing a product or service as ‘green’ by a narrow definition that disregards other environmental impacts. An example of this was fast food chain McDonald’s switch to paper straws. Although consumers may have welcomed this change initially, it was soon revealed that these straws were still unrecyclable.

Irrelevance: Although the claim may be true, it is unrelated to the company or product.

Lesser of two evils: Touting one good sustainable aspect of the business while ignoring greater environmental harm.

Fibbing: The sin of outright lying, this was seen very clearly in the case of the Volkswagen scandal of 2015. The car company admitted to cheating emissions tests by fitting defeat devices to vehicles in question. This allowed the company to use proprietary software to detect emission tests and in turn reduce levels. Whilst they were knowingly greenwashing their products, in reality they were releasing 40x the permitted limit of nitrogen oxide pollutants.

How can businesses avoid greenwashing?

In the run up to the UK’s net zero commitments, it is within everyone’s interest for businesses to become truly sustainable. Switching to renewables, incorporating low carbon tech and educating staff are some of the ways that businesses can avoid accidental greenwashing.

To promote a sustainable ethos, a business must first achieve sustainability goals. Providing customers with complete transparency not only reassures them of your reliability, but also allows for a wider range of potential clients.

Delivering real change is essential in moving towards a green future. While greenwashing allows businesses to pull in revenue in the short term, it will have serious consequences further down the line.

How can EIC help?

At EIC we prioritise sustainability and transparency. Our expert team are on hand to help your business become as green as possible.

Years of experience allow us to identify the best areas of savings for your business. We believe the future is sustainable and we are dedicated to getting our clients on the right path towards it.

Get in touch to hear how we can help you begin your sustainability journey.

Earth Day: 5 things businesses can do to celebrate this year

After months of isolation and wintry weather, spring is finally in full bloom and the UK is reopening again. With this recent freedom has come a renewed appreciation for friends, family, and the great outdoors. This, and the rise in climate change awareness, make this Earth Day more important for businesses than ever.

Environmental awareness days are often marked with a social media post and quickly forgotten. But businesses that embrace real sustainability all year can enjoy significant financial and reputational benefits. As the UK transitions to a net zero economy, this will only become truer.

Companies with ethical and environmental strategies are already favoured by consumers and investors. This makes a sustainable strategy essential for securing future funding as well as growing and maintaining a loyal customer base. Not to mention, energy efficiency and clean energy solutions can provide valuable savings to facilitate further stability along the way.

This Earth Day, why not use the momentum to embark on your sustainable journey? Here are a few ways to celebrate the planet and ensure a green future for your business.

1.  Make a commitment

Companies and communities across the UK are pledging to reach net zero emissions by as early as 2030. This is largely due to recent shifts in policy that have made carbon monitoring and reporting an inevitable part of business practices. Climate-related risks are also beginning to play an important, even mandatory, role in investment decisions. This means large companies will have no choice but to reduce their environmental footprint.

What better day to announce your businesses commitment to net zero than Earth Day? EIC can help your organisation navigate the path to net zero from your initial carbon footprinting onwards. Our team of energy specialists streamline complex energy admin, carbon compliance, and give guidance on clean energy solutions. We go beyond what is mandatory to integrate sustainability into the core of your business.

2.  Embrace small changes

If your business is not ready to commit to a net zero target, there are numerous small changes you can make to save money and reduce your environmental footprint. Simply switching to LED lights can result in significant costs savings, especially for big energy users with extensive office or retail space. This and other efficiency solutions offer emission reductions that will prepare your organisation for future carbon reporting requirements.

Waste management is another important small but impactful change, as is water efficiency. Taking control of your utilities and ensuring there is as little unnecessary waste as possible is the first step towards sustainability.

3.  Switch to green energy

As companies and councils continue to join the race to net zero, energy suppliers are offering more green procurement options. There are different types of energy contracts in various shades of green, and choosing one can be a complex process.

If you are taking this Earth Day to switch to greener energy, EIC can help. Our procurement specialists can help you choose the contract that is right for your organisation and your net zero goals.

4.  Get smarter

Data gathering and analytics is the future of energy management. Smart energy monitoring and building control systems identify areas of inefficiency and waste. And enable you to make changes in real time. This technology is already becoming widely used to help businesses of all sizes control their costs and reduce emissions.

Make a real, impactful change this Earth Day by taking control of your utility usage. Our sister company, t-mac, offers next-generation metering, monitoring and controls solutions. These enable clients to manage their assets and energy consumption in real-time via a single platform.

“By working with t-mac we were able to identify that our immediate solution was to scrutinise the use of in-store equipment to save energy and carbon. Using t-mac’s expert advice and assistance we were able to implement a control strategy and immediately benefited from the energy reduction. To date, we’ve chalked up a substantial reduction in energy usage and carbon emissions across the 1,600 UK branches. We’re confident that the system will continue to be a winner, saving carbon and cost for years to come.” – Nick Eshelby, Director of Property Services at Ladbrokes

5.  Make it a team effort

Making structural changes to your energy portfolio is key. But genuine sustainability requires action on every level. Getting employees involved can help your sustainable efforts and also boost morale.

In August 2020, Reuters commissioned Censuswide to survey 2,000 UK office workers about workplace culture and environmental ethics. Of those surveyed, almost two-thirds (65%) said that they were more likely to work for a company with strong environmental policies.

This proves the rising interest in climate change and social equity is impacting peoples expectations of their employers. And as younger generations enter the workforce, this will only become more prevalent.

This Earth Day, ensure employees are aware of your commitment to environmental action by getting them involved in your sustainable business strategy. One way to do this is through EIC’s staff energy awareness training, which teaches employees how to reduce energy usage. By helping your employees understand how they can improve energy efficiency at work, they’ll learn how to cut their usage and costs at home too, which is great news for the environment.

How can EIC help?

At EIC we celebrate Earth Day every day by leading clients towards a more sustainable energy future. Our in-house team can guide you through energy monitoring, carbon footprinting, green procurement and compliance legislation. Our aim is to provide you with holistic energy management and sustainable solutions that build a green and resilient foundation for your organisation’s future.

To learn how our net zero services can help your business, contact us at EIC today.

What is driving corporate sustainability?

Rising interest in climate change means businesses are facing increased scrutiny over the environmental and social impacts of their practices. Mandatory carbon reporting already makes corporate sustainability obligatory for many big energy users. And securing funding in the future may entirely rely on a company’s ESG strategy thanks to financial guidelines like the TCFD.

Fortunately, there are many benefits to embracing corporate sustainability beyond ticking boxes. An organisation’s green credentials will only rise in value as the UK races towards its net zero target. Not to mention, at the heart of decarbonisation and sustainability is energy efficiency, which can uncover considerable cost savings.

There are various forces driving corporate sustainability, including a shift in consumer behaviour, policy changes and more ambitious government targets. These forecast a more permanent transformation in the business and finance sectors.

The race to net zero

The real fuel behind the environmental movement at the moment is the global race to net zero. Over the past year, the UK government has introduced new policies and plans to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. This includes new energy efficiency standards, increased renewable generation, hydrogen development, and a ban on petrol vehicles from 2030.

What is clear is that the green wave is coming.  To stay competitive, businesses will have to create sustainable strategies that prepare them for a net zero economy.

EIC can be your partner in this journey, from the first energy audit through to accreditation. Along the way, we help manage all your energy admin and take the stress out of complex carbon legislation. The path to net zero can be difficult to navigate, but our experienced in-house team of energy specialists provide end-to-end simplification. Giving you peace of mind, and your organisation a green, resilient future.

The Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD)

In November 2020, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced plans to make alignment with the TCFD guidelines mandatory in the UK. This will apply to most sectors of the economy by 2025 including listed companies, banks, and large private businesses.

The Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures was established in 2015 by the international Financial Stability Board. It is based on the growing consensus that climate change has immediate effects on economic decisions.

This new step towards mandatory transparency will require a more holistic view of a company’s environmental footprint. It also confirms that investors are growing more aware of climate-related risks and are putting more faith in organisations that plan ahead. For this reason, it can be beneficial for organisations to follow TCFD guidelines, whether they are obligated to do so or not.

Impact investing and the rise of ESG

Environmental, Social and Governance strategies are not new to the corporate sector, but they have become more important in recent years. Now with a heightened focus on climate change and social justice, ESG is becoming essential for securing future investments.

This goes hand-in-hand with the rise in impact investing, which goes beyond mitigating risks and asks – how is your organisation positively impacting the planet? This trend has seen a rise in companies with social or environmental missions.

Why choose true sustainability?

The rise in climate action has led to some companies ‘greenwashing’. This is essentially when a company markets themselves as being ‘green’ without taking real action to reduce their environmental footprint.

There are many benefits to genuine environmental sustainability. The most important being an organisation’s longevity in a changing market.

If the recent shift in policy and finance has taught us anything it is that total transparency will be essential in the future. While ‘greenwashing’ may have some rewards now, it is poor preparation for a net zero economy. And though it may be cheaper in the short term, organisations that are ignoring their energy efficiency are missing out on significant long term savings.

Why choose EIC on your journey to net zero?

At EIC we know that building an environmentally and ethically sound business is not only the smart thing to do, it is the right thing to do. Our in-house team can guide you through energy monitoring, carbon footprinting, green procurement and compliance legislation. Our aim is to provide you with holistic energy management and sustainable solutions that boost your green reputation and financial savings.

Contact us at EIC for a bespoke net zero roadmap for your organisation.

2021 outlook for big energy users

Covid-19 continues to give rise to uncertainty and financial volatility across the globe. And while there is a potential end in sight, there is still a long road to normality ahead.

Fortunately, the UK has set out a sustainable recovery plan focused on fighting climate change and revolutionising the energy sector. This green wave will bring with it a range of challenges and opportunities for big energy users across the private and public sectors.

Looking forward

With COP26 around the corner and a 2050 net zero target to consider, the UK’s decarbonisation efforts have increased significantly. The past year has seen announcements like plans for the issue of the UK’s first green bond, a 2030 ban on petrol cars, and mandatory TCFD recommendations for large businesses. These green initiatives culminated in the highly anticipated new energy white paper which maps out a clean energy transformation. Fuelled by the evolution of technology like AI and IoT, the energy landscape is predicted to be more flexible and transparent than ever before.

However, whilst it’s fairly clear what is on the horizon for the energy sector, there is less certainty around the energy market. Will energy prices continue to recover as demand rises post-Covid? Will the increased reliance on renewables make energy prices more volatile? How will Brexit impact the energy market if at all? And how can big energy users find opportunities in the current uncertainty?

EIC’s ‘2021 outlook for big energy users’ report

Our report outlines the upcoming trends for big energy users and how EIC’s team of energy specialists can help businesses stay ahead of the curve.

2021 energy outlook for big energy users

Download our ‘2021 energy outlook for big energy users’ report


How EIC can help

The UK’s decarbonisation mission will rely upon a changing energy mix, more flexible energy grids, innovative tech, and widespread improvement of energy efficiency. At EIC we like to offer next generation solutions that help our clients prepare for a green future.

Our sister company t-mac delivers compelling metering, monitoring and BMS controls solutions via our in-house team. This is just one of many innovative services that can revolutionise the way you run your business. Allowing you to manage and control all elements of your energy bill on both sides of the meter.

EIC’s services can transform your wider energy strategy to encompass efficiency and self-sufficiency. We can also guide you through compliance with complex carbon legislation, making sure you are working towards ambitious net zero targets.

To learn more about optimising your sustainability strategy contact us at EIC today.

The journey to and benefits of Scope 3 emissions reporting

Last year saw many businesses contending with the challenges of SECR (Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting) for the first time. 2021 does not promise any respite however and Scope 3 emissions remain a contentious issue.

What are the scopes?

Reporting on Scope 1 and 2 emissions is mandatory for many organisations. Any ‘large’ company must report if they meet the following criteria:

  • 250+ employees
  • Turnover more than £36m
  • Balance sheets totalling over £18m

As well as reporting the emissions themselves, organisations must show the steps they have taken to reduce emissions over the course of the financial year.

The key distinction between Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions is how directly they relate to your business operations. Scopes 1 and 2 concern direct emissions made by your organisation. Scope 3 takes a holistic view of business operations, including your supply chain, and how embedded carbon emissions can be reduced throughout it.

Firms have typically avoided reporting on Scope 3 emissions unless required to do so. Yet, they are missing out on a range of benefits afforded by going the extra mile in their carbon reporting.

 

End-to-end control

Conducting a robust analysis of your supply chain’s carbon emissions can provide insights that would otherwise be unavailable. Such as GHG (Greenhouse Gas) emissions and cost reduction opportunities that exist outside of the organisation.

Generally, sources of Scope 3 emissions provide support to your business without existing directly under your control, however, there are a couple of exceptions.

Scope 3 emissions can include:

  • Business travel
  • Employee commuting
  • Investments
  • Leased assets and franchises
  • Purchased goods and services
  • Transportation and distribution
  • Use of sold products
  • Waste disposal

While many of these represent elements of a supply chain others can be tackled more immediately. Business travel, commuting, investments, and waste disposal are all subject to the influence of your management team.

Choosing to report means you can engage with sustainability culture across all levels of your organisation. Engagement can include a ride-to-work scheme to encourage greener travel options, divestment from fossil fuels, or taking on a waste disposal contractor that can reduce both your costs and carbon emissions.

Scope 3 emissions matter on the global scale

Thinking globally

After ensuring that your in-house Scope 3 emissions are under control, it is wise to next look to your supply chain and the environmental impact of your business on a global scale.

Despite not being a direct consumer, your firm still possesses the buying power to influence the behaviour of its collaborators and the power to choose who not to collaborate with based on their carbon profile.

In addition, the data you gather in order to report may highlight potential weak points in your supply chain vulnerable to events like pandemics or climate change. Just last year, we saw Brent Crude, the international standard for oil prices, drop to zero. All because of a sudden and unforeseeable fall in demand triggered by the pandemic, and with suppliers losing millions in the process.

Assessing these factors gives you the opportunity to adjust or replace links in the chain to ensure future resilience. Since Rishi Sunak promised that the UK will be a leader in climate risk disclosure, having a strong Scope 3 dataset will help bolster the confidence of future investors.

It is likely that abiding by TCFD (Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures) regulations will become mandatory for an increasing number of businesses in the future. Securing Scope 3 data now can give you a head start in the process.

Finally, an understanding of your Scope 3 emissions will empower you to choose suppliers whose priorities align with your own brand. Given that 84% of consumers in 2020 stated that being environmentally friendly is important to them, consistency in brand values is becoming more important than ever.

 

How can EIC help?

EIC offers expert guidance on a range of compliance processes including SECR for all emissions scopes, as well as consultative services for carbon management assisting routes to carbon neutrality, energy management, UK ETS, CCA, and ESOS.

We will provide you with a dedicated carbon consultant, annual and bi-annual energy and carbon reports, and we’ll completely oversee both the compliance process and any energy audits and evidence collection required.

Since we view the goal of sustainability completely, we also offer packages of complimentary services like ESOS and SECR to encourage our clients to do the same.

To find out if one of these packages might suit your organisation, and how our compliance services can work for you, get in touch.

4 Types of Carbon Offset Projects

Resource efficiency and sustainability are already integral to a business’s resiliency. All evidence points to carbon offsets becoming the next piece of the puzzle.

Climate-related policy change and litigation are on the rise across the world. It is clear that the involvement of the business sector in reducing global emissions will soon be unavoidable. This means that companies will have to take responsibility for their carbon footprint. Becoming eco-conscious will give a reputational advantage, as well as future security.

There are concerns around carbon offsets being used as a tool for “greenwashing”. This is a term used for a company masking its unethical behaviour with a green veil of traded carbon credits or PPAs. This is a valid concern, and shouldn’t be taken lightly. But as we move further and faster towards a net zero economy, genuine “greenness” will carry more weight.

While there are shades of green when it comes to the carbon market, carbon offsetting projects can facilitate valuable environmental and social projects. The benefits of which can extend above and beyond the initial reduction in carbon.

How do carbon offset projects and credits work?

Every tonne of emissions reduced by an environmental project creates one carbon offset or carbon credit. Companies can invest in these projects directly or buy the carbon credits in order to reduce their own carbon footprints.

Carbon credits are tradeable on the market and can be controversial in how easy they are to attain. However, the concept is the same: a company is more or less investing in a green project in order to balance their own emissions.

 

Four main types of carbon offset projects

Forestry and Conservation

Reforestation and conservation have become very popular offsetting schemes. Credits are created based on either the carbon captured by new trees or the carbon not released through protecting old trees. These projects are based all across the world, from growing forests right here in the UK to replanting mangroves in Madagascar, to “re-wilding” the rainforests of Brazil.

Forestry projects are not the cheapest offset option, but they are often chosen for their many benefits outside of the carbon credits they offer. Protecting eco-systems, wildlife, and social heritage is significant for companies offsetting their carbon emissions for the corporate social responsibility (CSR) element.

There is some grey area in forestry offsetting. In the past, it has been difficult to distinguish just how much carbon is being reduced through forestry projects. Fortunately, thanks to emerging new technologies, methods of sustainable reforestation and calculating the benefits have greatly improved.

Renewable energy

Renewable energy offsets help to build or maintain chiefly solar, wind or hydro sites across the world. By investing in these projects, a company is boosting the amount of renewable energy on the grid, creating jobs, decreasing reliance on fossil fuels, and bolstering the sector’s global growth.

Take, for example, The Bokhol Plant in Senegal. This project is one of the largest of its kind in West Africa, providing 160,000 people with access to renewable energy. It also saves the government $5 million a year and creates jobs in the region. Plus, the profits from selling carbon credits are often fed back into local community projects.

Community projects

Community projects often help to introduce energy-efficient methods or technology to undeveloped communities around the world. There are many potential benefits to these projects that far surpass carbon credits. Projects like this do not only help to make entire regions more sustainable, they can provide empowerment and independence that can lift communities out of poverty. This means that projects that were, at one time, purely philanthropic can now provide organisations with direct benefits like carbon credits.

For example, the female-led Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) project in Ethiopia provides clean water to communities by fixing and funding long-term maintenance for boreholes. How does this reduce carbon emissions? Families will no longer have to burn firewood to boil water, which will protect local forests, prevent carbon emissions and reduce indoor smoke pollution. In addition to the health and environmental benefits, the project is managed by female-led committees that provide work to local women.

The Darfur Sudan Cookstove Project replaced traditional cooking methods like burning wood and charcoal often inside the home, with low smoke stoves in Darfur, Sudan. This works to reduce the damaging health effects and emissions of indoor smoke, as well as the impacts of deforestation. This project also employs women in the region and helps to empower women and girls who now spend less time collecting firewood and cooking.

Waste to energy

A waste to energy project often involves capturing methane and converting it into electricity. Sometimes this means capturing landfill gas, or in smaller villages, human or agricultural waste. In this way, waste to energy projects can impact communities in the same way efficient stoves or clean water can.

One such project in Vietnam is training locals to build and maintain biogas digesters which turn waste into affordable, clean and sustainable energy. This reduces the methane released into the atmosphere. And helps protect their local forests which would otherwise be depleted through sourcing firewood.

When and why are carbon offsets used?

Energy efficiency, clean energy usage, and sustainable business strategies can be very effective in reducing an organisation’s emissions. But there are various scopes to the greenhouse gas emissions that organisations must consider.

Scope 1: Direct emissions from company operations such as company vehicles or factories
Scope 2: Indirect emissions from company operations such as purchased electricity generated by fossil fuels
Scope 3: Indirect emissions from company supply chains such as shipping, business travel, and raw material extraction

Completely eliminating carbon emissions through mitigation methods is not always possible. That’s where carbon offsetting comes in.

How can EIC help reduce your carbon footprint?

It is important to take steps to reduce your carbon footprint as much as possible before considering carbon offsets. Carbon credits should certainly not be used to buy an organisation a clean conscience or create a mirage of sustainability for consumers and/or clients. Carbon offsetting is a valuable tool, and when used to supplement a company’s mitigation efforts, creates a genuinely sustainable and resilient foundation.

At EIC, we offer comprehensive energy and carbon services to help reduce our clients’ carbon footprint in a sustainable way. Our team of experts can help advise on energy efficiency, clean energy solutions, monitoring carbon emissions, and carbon credits.

To learn more about our services contact us at EIC.

Could your organisation benefit from onsite generation?

Access to clean electricity is becoming increasingly important for UK businesses. Onsite generation can provide a source of clean energy, whilst also protecting firms from supply chain disruptions and market changes. We break down the major benefits of generating your own electricity, as well as the advantages it will grant businesses on the road to net zero.

Onsite generation: What do you have to gain?

The immediate boons of onsite generation fall under three categories: energy security, increased flexibility, and a heightened reputation for corporate social responsibility.

Energy security

Energy security can be defined in two ways; the first is the physical security of the resource reaching your business from supply. Fortunately, UK supplies are relatively undisturbed by inclement weather conditions compared with other regions of the world. Despite this, any total loss of energy – no matter how brief – can be costly. This can be avoided by having a safeguard like onsite generation in place.

The second security threat refers more to the commercial landscape than the physical one. Energy wholesale contract prices are subject to change at the best of times. Depending on a variety of factors like peak demand times, supply chain disruption, or, in the case of big oil earlier this year, complete loss of demand.

2018 was a stark example of how sudden and dramatic these price changes can be. In just a six-month period, between March and September, winter electricity contract prices increased by over 40%.

The fact is that the majority of this price hike was due to non-commodity costs like transmission and distribution. These are practically absent when generating onsite, meaning you are less at the mercy of market changes.

Increased flexibility

As with supply security, onsite generation gives you greater control over all aspects of your energy usage. You can scale back your reliance on the grid during high-generation days and, when combined with your own battery storage, even remove your dependence on the grid completely. In a way this gives you the best of both worlds. It removes your attachment to swings in the market but allows you to use the grid as a safety net for low-generation periods.

UK manufacturing has already seen huge gains by combining generation and battery storage technology. A 2018 report from CBS indicated that this sector alone could save over £500m annually by adopting such systems.

Installing your own generation equipment also makes it easier to scale and budget your energy needs as your business grows. Moreover, it improves the value of your business real estate by turning passive roof space into an asset.

Improve your green reputation

Corporate social responsibility is climbing the priorities list of commercial businesses. Onsite energy generation is an excellent way to demonstrate your commitment to reducing your carbon footprint. It also shows your allegiance with a growing section of the energy industry – one that will be centre stage for the global fight against climate change.

Additionally, most UK firms will be required to uphold TCFD standards of reporting the potential risks climate change poses to their functionality. Potential investors will feel confident knowing that you are not only bolstering your own energy supply but actively reducing your contribution to climate change.

Finally, your customers will thank you and new customers will seek you out for reflecting their values. Research conducted in 2020 showed that out of 10,000 global respondents, 50% say they only buy products from brands that ‘try to be eco-friendly’.

Beginning onsite generation and other considerations

At EIC, we provide guidance on the installation and integration of onsite generation into your business model. We recognise the value of such technologies in isolation. However, we also believe that parallel technology working in tandem can release even greater returns for you.

As such, alongside battery storage and onsite generation options we also offer intelligent energy management services. After all, it would be a shame to make savings from your own energy generation and then lose them to inefficiency. To find out more about these services and how they can work for you, get in touch.

TCFD: 4 key points from the recommendations

The Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) was established in 2015 by the international Financial Stability Board. It is based on the growing consensus that climate change has immediate effects on economic decisions. Investors are growing more aware of climate-related risks and putting more faith in organisations that are planning ahead.

In a recent series of environmental measures from the government, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced plans to make alignment with the TCFD guidelines mandatory. This will apply to most sectors of the economy by 2025 including listed companies, banks, and large private businesses. This part of the green recovery plan aims to bolster the UK’s position as a global leader for green finance.

“By taking as many equivalence decisions as we can in the absence of clarity from the EU, we’re doing what’s right for the UK and providing firms with certainty and stability.”
– Chancellor Rishi Sunak

Can increased transparency help achieve net zero and a stable green economy? We look at the key points and benefits of the guidelines for the TFCD.

What are climate-related risks?

The Task Force broke down climate-related risks into two major categories:

  • risks related to the transition to a lower-carbon economy, and
  • risks related to the physical impacts of climate change.

Transition risks include shifts in policy and litigation, market, technology and reputation. Organisations are already seeing this impact with climate-related litigation and policy changes rising. Costs of operation, raw materials, and products are all vulnerable to shifts in policy, technology, and markets. And changes in consumer preferences and customer behaviour must also be taken into account.

Physical risks involve the effects of climate change on the natural world. These are broken down into two categories: acute and chronic risk. Acute risk involves extreme weather events such as wildfires or floods. Chronic risk refers to longer-term shifts in climate patterns. These could affect anything from an organisations supply chain to their employees’ safety.

two people working on a white board

What are climate-related opportunities?

In light of the potential risks posed by climate change, the TCFD also recommends several opportunities. These are solutions that can reduce risk and provide organisations with long-term stability.

  • Resource efficiency: Making your buildings and transportation as efficient as possible by integrating intelligent energy management, reducing water usage and consumption, and recycling.
  • Energy source: Implementing the use of clean energy sources through procurement or onsite generation and taking advantage of policy incentives.
  • Products and services: Developing low-emission goods or services and/or innovative climate-related products.
  • Markets: Having access to new markets and assets and use of public-sector incentives.
  • Resilience: Boosting financial and reputational stability by adopting sustainable solutions such as energy efficiency and supporting renewable energy.

What are the recommended disclosures?

There are four recommendations laid out by the task force for disclosures.

  • Governance: Disclosure of the board’s oversight on, and management’s role in, assessing and managing climate-related risks and opportunities.
  • Strategy: Disclosure of the short and long term climate-related risks and opportunities, their impact on the organisation, and the resilience of the strategy in place to manage those risks and opportunities.
  • Risk Management: Disclosure of the organisation’s process for identifying, assessing and managing risks, and how this is integrated into the organisation’s overall risk management.
  • Metrics and Targets: Disclosure of the metrics used to assess risks – Scope 1, Scope 2, and Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions, the risks they pose, and the targets in place to manage risks and opportunities.

What are the benefits of implementing TCFD?

In the future green economy, disclosures like these will be crucial for a company’s sustainability and resiliency. Implementing TCFDs will help companies to identify and assess the risks posed by climate change. They can then address their structural weaknesses and implement mitigation and adaptation efforts to future-proof their business. Organisations that do this will have a competitive advantage over those that don’t when it comes to future funding and investments.

At EIC we are experienced in helping clients mitigate climate-related risks. Through our unrivalled energy management services and cutting-edge technology, we can help with most of the TCFD’s recommendations. From resource efficiency and clean energy to your carbon compliance, our goal is to simplify your sustainability journey. For more information on future-proofing your organisation, contact us at EIC.