How do I do this?

As a demonstration of short-term carbon reduction, businesses need to identify at least one highly ‘material’ (high impact / importance) source of emissions to target initially, other than those in the previous 3 pledges, and develop a plan to deal with the problem.

If you have the resources, commissioning a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) on your key product or service, and/or a complete business carbon footprint, will help you to accurately identify your top causes of environmental impacts in order to take action. These will often be at least £10,000. Otherwise by doing web searches you should be able to find generalised footprint data on your organisation type and/or types of products and services, to give you an indication of top areas to focus on. There are suggestions below.

Utilise a system to monitor the emissions of the selected area, create a plan, and work with partners such as energy efficiency consultants as appropriate.

Step 1 – List out all activities that your business directly controls that emit greenhouse gases. You should consider large causes even if ‘indirect’ and outside financial control – for example to include staff commutes or purchased services such as customer flights. The Useful Links below may help.

Step 2 – Estimate the levels of greenhouse gases emitted by each, known as the ‘carbon footprint’ – this is usually recorded in Carbon Dioxide equivalent (CO2e) as it allows direct comparisons and avoids having to record each greenhouse gas separately.

Step 3 – Identify the 1+ areas that you need to make changes to reduce high causes of currently unavoidable emissions of your business, such as reducing air miles of clients or footprint of materials and packaging.

Step 4 – Create a plan to more accurately measure and to reduce these emissions – without relying on offsets. If the key area is owned transport or energy use, please expand further on your intentions from your previous answers.

Step 5 – Optionally find a carbon offset retailer / scheme that you can work with, and from them choose an offset scheme that strikes relevance with your organisation (by location or type). You could choose a Carbon Neutral or Carbon Zero standard that will cover a wide range of operational emissions, or cover only the more specific emissions.

Suitable answer(s) will depend on the operations of the organisation. For example:

  • Tour operators and travel agencies may currently purchase lots of long haul flights. A robust plan would be to intensify marketing of trips that require shorter journeys or using less carbon intensive modes of transport, and having clear labelling of greener choices through a labelling system.
  • Manufacturers, direct manufacturing is often a high proportion but should be being dealt with in Pledge 2 and 3. A notable remainder of their footprint is typically materials used, for manufacture and packaging. A robust plan would be to identify materials with a high carbon footprint and phase those out, and move towards a ‘circular economy‘ approach: reducing material use, using recycled content, improving repairability/reuse/longevity, and recyclability of the product and packaging.
  • Brands and retailers may have high impacts from warehousing, importing of products, delivery packaging, and/or could focus on sourcing environmentally friendly products. 
  • Hotels typically have high impacts from goods and services they purchase such as laundry, food and beverages, air conditioner gas. 

Not that energy usage in all cases should be being reduced and switched to renewables under Pledges 2-4.

For more information on unavoidable emissions and carbon offsets, see our guide.

Useful links
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Every company taking the Pledge receives a free 20 minute call of environmental management advice from our partners at Green Element. We suggest you consolidate your Pledge-related questions, and contact them using the contact form here, or call (+44)0 207 096 054.