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Revealed: Companies committed to reducing their carbon footprints

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

The impact of climate change continues to be in the news – e.g. rising sea levels and erratic weather patterns, both of which constitute a danger to humans and wildlife.

Thankfully, a strategy is now in place to reverse the effects of climate change and restore harmony to the planet. Back in June 2019, the UK government became the first country to sign their ‘Net Zero’ target into law – marking it as the first major economy to legislate for net zero emissions.[1] Since then, other governments have followed suit, introducing their own laws and policy changes to help reduce the amount of carbon we emit. 

These changes have had a huge impact on the way businesses work, inspiring many to introduce new ways of reducing their carbon footprint. Here, we look at those businesses that are  going above and beyond to ensure their emissions are kept as low possible or are offsetting the carbon they unavoidably emit as part of their daily operations.  

Aviation – EasyJet

Airlines are a significant contributor to carbon emissions globally. In fact, it’s estimated that the flights we catch account for some 12% of all transport emissions annually.[2] Yet there are airlines that are making significant efforts to try and reduce this figure – one of which is EasyJet. In a recent report, EasyJet ranked top of the list of airlines trying to cut carbon emissions and tackle climate change and has since become the first airline to operate net zero flights across its whole network.[3]


This has been possible through carbon offsetting initiatives which helps to offset the emissions the airline uses during flights. It’s estimated that the company will spend around £25million each year carbon offsetting, lowering their impact on the environment and positioning themselves as market leaders in reducing CO2. 

Off-grid energy – Flogas

As one of UK’s leading off-grid energy suppliers who help companies offset carbon emissions, Flogas has quickly become a market leader in the fight against climate change. In its ‘2040 Vision’ manifesto, the company has laid out plans on how it intends to the support the government’s carbon emissions targets by supplying its customers with100% renewable energy solutions by 2040. As well as aiding its customers, the company has also undertaken several landmark steps in its own carbon reduction strategy such as promising to offset all Level 1 and Level 2 CO2 emissions for 2019 and became one of the first 0ff-grid gas suppliers to add BioLNG powered delivery vehicles to its fleet. Since then, Flogas has also launched its Carbon Offsetting Initiative for both its commercial and consumer customers. 

Fast food restaurants – McDonald’s

As one of the most iconic restaurants in the world, McDonald’s are firmly under the microscope when it comes to taking sustainable measures. Luckily, the company is making considerable efforts to reduce its impact on the environment wherever possible. With around 36,000 restaurants located in over 100 countries worldwide[4], McDonald’s has now began switching to energy efficient appliances to help cut energy waste by around 25%.[5] It also aims to source all its packaging from recycled materials by 2025.[6]

Automotive – BMW

Regularly named as the world’s most sustainable car manufacturer, BMW has gained a reputation for its creativity and innovation in terms of reducing carbon emissions. The company’s long list of green credentials speaks for itself – for example, from 2009 to 2019 BMW has been able to reduce its delivery fleet emissions by over 40%.[7] The company has also invested heavily in electric technology, turning to more renewable fuels to reduce carbon emissions even further. As it stands, BMW is currently on track to ensure that a quarter of all the vehicles it sells will be electrified by 2021, with a third in 2025 and half of all vehicles by the year 2030.[8]

Manufacturing – Siemens 

Manufacturing often requires energy intensive processes that create high levels of carbon emissions. However, this didn’t stop electronics manufacturer, Siemens, from becoming the first global company to commit to carbon neutrality by 2030 through using renewable energy at its factories.[9] It’s also set out sustainability goals within its ‘Serve the Environment’ programme which details how it intends to create zero waste. As it stands, zero per cent of its waste has been sent to landfill from its factory in Newcastle and the business currently boasts a 92% recycle rate overall. [10]

Software – Google 

With a reputation for creating innovative software, it comes as no surprise that Google is one of the IT giants leading the way in terms of sustainability. As well as reducing its carbon footprint through company-wide efficiency improvements, Google also uses on-site solar power as a renewable fuel supply. [11]The company then uses carbon offsetting to bring its remaining footprint to zero and goes to great lengths to ensure that the projects it supports help provide long-term global benefits.[12]


[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-becomes-first-major-economy-to-pass-net-zero-emissions-law

[2] https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-47460958

[3] https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-47460958

[4] https://www.mcdonalds.com/gb/en-gb/help/faq/18510-how-many-mcdonalds-restaurants-are-there-in-the-uk-and-the-world.html

[5] https://www.forbes.com/sites/blakemorgan/2019/08/26/101-companies-committed-to-reducing-their-carbon-footprint/#5f24529f260b

[6] https://www.forbes.com/sites/blakemorgan/2019/08/26/101-companies-committed-to-reducing-their-carbon-footprint/#5f24529f260b

[7] https://www.bmwgroup.com/en/responsibility/sustainability-at-the-bmw-group.html

[8] https://www.bmwgroup.com/en/responsibility/sustainability-at-the-bmw-group.html

[9]  https://www.forbes.com/sites/blakemorgan/2019/08/26/101-companies-committed-to-reducing-their-carbon-footprint/#5f24529f260b

[10] https://new.siemens.com/global/en/company/sustainability/resourceconservation.html

[11] https://www.google.com/about/datacenters/renewable/

[12] https://static.googleusercontent.com/media/www.google.com/en//green/pdfs/google-carbon-offsets.pdf

Lowering carbon emissions ‘will help boost business post-COVID-19’

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Companies globally have been forced to take extreme measures to change the way they operate during the global COVID-19 outbreak, and this has been estimated to have reduced carbon emissions by up to a quarter by some instances.

However, a new report from Emitwise claims it is possible to maintain these lower carbon emissions while also boosting economic activity once social distancing ends, and regular business activities begin. The key, it argues, is to better analyse and report on carbon emissions – and it gives clear business benefits of doing so. 

‘The business benefits of carbon accounting: creating organisational value from carbon accounting in a post-Coronavirus world’ discusses how to use carbon reporting as a competitive differentiator for your business. It offers 11 reasons why businesses can benefit from carbon reporting including:

  • Cost saving
  • Legislation
  • Point of difference
  • Access to new markets
  • PR opportunity
  • Talent recruitment and retention tool
  • Business benchmark
  • Futureproofing
  • Carbon taxes
  • Access to green funding and capital
  • Contributing to carbon reduction

The report is free to download here and also includes information on how organisations can continue to maintain lower emissions and start their carbon reporting journey in line with the Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR), which came into force earlier this month.

Caroline Bartlett, Head of Carbon Accounting at Emitwise, and author of the report, said: “We’ve launched this report now as many businesses have already significantly reduced their emissions as an indirect result of Covid-19 and this is something that they should continue to progress once the outbreak is over. By better analysing – and reporting on – carbon emissions, organisations can generate huge business benefits at a challenging economic time while also maintain lower levels of emissions. It’s a win-win situation for business.” 

GUEST BLOG: Taking cleaning carbon neutral

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Lara Coutinho, ABM UK’s newly appointed Environment and Sustainability Manager reflects on the path to going carbon neutral…

In the contemporary marketplace, green initiatives are not just about acting responsibly for local communities and future generations, but are also essential to remaining competitive. 

This is why sustainability products, such as ABM GreenCare and Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design certification (LEED), are designed to support our customers to reach their green targets, whether that’s for cleaning products that minimise environmental and air pollution, lowering the energy involved in waste disposal or minimising the amount of water used in cleaning. However, it’s not enough to help others; we also need to ensure we’re “walking the walk” ourselves.

One of my aims over the next two to five years is to focus on ways in which ABM UK can move toward becoming carbon neutral. This means minimising (and eventually stopping production of) carbon dioxide (CO2); the greenhouse gas that increases acidity in the oceans and contributes to the planet’s warming. Where we produce CO2 in our cleaning operations and running our business generally we are exploring initiatives to support our sustainability targets, from planting trees and bio-diverse landscaping to unique site-specific technical solutions, created in alignment with our customer’s values.  

ABM UK will also be continuing to champion the benefits of eco-friendly cleaning products to our customers and the wider FM industry. My experience in planning and operational roles at major sporting events, including the rigorous testing grounds of the Rio 2016 Summer Paralympics and the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, drummed home to me the benefits of these products. Not only do they clean to high standards, they also reduce energy and operating costs, protect air quality, preserve natural resources and enhance brand reputation. 

We’ll also look at ways to optimise and roll out the excellent ABM products already in existence, driving greater usage and pick up. This includes continuing the switch to renewable energy sources, something already started through our partnership with Bulb Energy, the clean energy providers, and our internal GreenShop programme which gives employees subsidised access to eco-friendly products.  

Another focus area is innovation and the new systems addressing carbon emissions, water use and waste disposal in exciting ways. The team behind BioWhale, a bio-digestor for food waste, for example, is doing an excellent job supporting our cleaning contract at Cabot Circus Shopping Centre in Bristol. Biowhale works by sending food waste to anaerobic digestion to be converted into electric or gas energy and fertiliser, and recently won a Green Apple Award for ‘Environmental Best Practice in Property & Waste Management’. The process saw 100% of food waste from restaurants and cafes being recycled, as well as the use of plastic bags for food waste being eliminated. It’s an innovative take on circular consumption that demonstrates some of the developing products that are out there.

Finally, we’ll also focus on behaviour change and shifting people’s actions on a consistent, day-to-day basis. Often people don’t see how the things they do every day can help the overall picture. Perceptions can be entrenched. A small thing that can make a big difference includes introducing a pledge wall for our teams.  A pledge wall asks individuals to leave a visual record of their commitments to making a difference, which can be simple things such as “I will avoid single use plastic, ” or “I will ensure I’m recycling properly”. Through the pledge wall, our teams and our customers can start to see what’s possible, have a degree of accountability and begin to see the potential of their own ability to enact positive change.  

Looking at the bigger picture, reducing our carbon footprint and becoming more sustainable is something which will touch all areas of the company and feed into our business and financial objectives. We believe that the day on which we will be able to describe ABM UK as  ‘carbon neutral’ is not too far in the future!  

Shell ties exec pay to carbon reduction targets

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Shell is linking its executive pay to carbon emissions reduction targets as part of a plan developed with its institutional investors on behalf of Climate Action 100+, an initiative led by investors with more than $32 trillion in assets under management.

The company aims to reduce the Net Carbon Footprint of its energy products by around half by 2050, and by around 20% by 2035, in step with society’s drive to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Shell says it’s building on that long-term ambition with the commitment to setting specific Net Carbon Footprint targets for shorter periods, of three or five years.

It will set the target each year, for the following three- or five-year period. The target setting process will start from 2020 and will run to 2050.

Shell plans to link these targets and other measures to its executive remuneration policy. The revised remuneration policy will be put to shareholders for approval at the company’s Annual General Meeting in 2020.

The announcement is part of a drive to increase transparency around the topic of climate change, and to create clear benchmarks for performance.

Shell will publish its progress towards lowering the Net Carbon Footprint of its energy products initially in the Sustainability Report.

In line with the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), Shell intends to integrate this disclosure into the Annual Report and Form 20-F as appropriate. The company will seek third-party assurance of the reported Net Carbon Footprint.

“Meeting the challenge of tackling climate change requires unprecedented collaboration and this is demonstrated by our engagements with investors,” said Shell Chief Executive Officer Ben van Beurden. “We are taking important steps towards turning our Net Carbon Footprint ambition into reality by setting shorter-term targets. This ambition positions the company well for the future and seeks to ensure we thrive as the world works to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change.”

“We applaud the joint statement by Shell and lead investors for Climate Action 100+,” said Anne Simpson, the inaugural Chair of the Climate Action 100+ Steering Committee and Director of Board Governance and Strategy at the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS). “The commitment by Shell to fully respond to the engagement shows the value of dialogue and global partnership to deliver on the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change. Shell is setting the pace, and we look forward to other major companies following its lead.”

Peter Ferket, Chief Investment Officer of Robeco, said: “When it comes to meeting the demands of the Paris Agreement on climate change, we believe it is necessary to strengthen partnerships between investors and their investee companies to accelerate progress towards reaching such an ambitious common goal. This joint statement is an example of such a partnership. As institutional investors in Shell we continue to support Shell on its journey in the energy transition, aiming for other companies to follow suit.”

The full text of the joint statement is available here: https://www.shell.com/media/news-and-media-releases/2018/joint-statement-between-institutional-investors-on-behalf-of-climate-action-and-shell.html