Corporate responsibility review

Managing our business impact

Our society is resolved to reduce levels of carbon in the atmosphere and to secure energy supplies for the future. Centrica can help achieve these goals and is keenly aware of its responsibilities.

Mary Francis CBE,
Senior Independent Director and Chair of the Corporate Responsibility Committee

At Centrica, we believe that a business must be alert to the impact it has on the society and the physical environment in which it works and that it should do what it can to contribute to the health and sustainability of both. That is what we mean by corporate responsibility.

We believe that being a responsible business is fundamental to our long-term success and contributes to a healthy business environment. It is essential to maintaining our reputation with customers, investors, regulators and other external stakeholders – because it reflects the principles which they value. For the same reason, it enables us to recruit and retain the most talented and capable people. Consequently, we set ourselves high standards in all areas of responsible behaviour, including business integrity, environmental stewardship, fairness to customers, employment and community support.

Even in a year in which all businesses were preoccupied with short-term financial and economic concerns, we held true to these principles. In particular we continued to develop and expand our workforce to install the low carbon technologies of the future, including solar panels and microCHP units, and to advise our customers on using energy more efficiently. Leadership in these services will position Centrica both to contribute to and benefit from, the progressive transition to a low carbon economy which our society has set as its goal.

We also took further steps to reduce the carbon intensity of our energy generation and to improve the security of the UK’s energy supplies. We expanded Centrica’s investment in wind power and consolidated our upstream base through our acquisitions of Venture and a 20% stake in British Energy.

Below is a summary of Centrica’s corporate responsibility (CR) performance in 2009. Further details can be found at www.centrica.com/responsibility.

Case study: Green Streets

The UK carbon reduction target is 80% on 1990 levels by 2050. To find out what could be achieved at a local level we ran a year-long project called ‘Green Streets’, a competition between eight communities that promoted awareness of low carbon solutions for householders and showed how different energy efficiency solutions, allied to changes in behaviour, can deliver benefits to customers.

The results published in March 2009 demonstrate how much can be achieved using current commercially available technologies.

Building on these findings, we launched the ‘Green Streets 2010’ community initiative in January 2010, in which 14 communities will compete to reduce their energy use and carbon emissions.

Picture of the residents of Green Lane

25%

The project showed demonstrable benefits for consumers through lower energy bills and, most importantly, an average reduction in carbon footprint of almost 25%.

35mt CO2

If the Green Streets savings were replicated across UK households, we estimate that 35 million tonnes of CO2 would be cut from the national carbon footprint.

£6 billion

At 2009 prices this would save £6 billion per annum.

Picture of the residents of Green Lane

CR priority: to support local communities

As a major employer and provider of essential energy services, Centrica’s wellbeing is bound up with that of the communities in which we work, at both national and local level. We believe it is important to provide our employees with opportunities for community involvement.

We work with our charity partners such as Save the Children to create volunteering programmes that best use our skills to support the most vulnerable in society. The range of volunteering opportunities available to employees through our UK ‘Get Involved’ programme, North American ‘direct in the community’ scheme and other community initiatives are designed to allow employees to support organisations to which they have a personal connection and which match their skills and needs. We also help our employees to contribute financially to local and national charities through payroll giving, matched funding and the employee lottery.

Centrica’s total community contributions in 2009 were £76.9 million (£24 million up from 2008). Details of the causes we support are provided in our online CR report. A significant proportion of the overall total relates to the support provided through the British Gas Essentials social programme.

KPI

Total community contributions5 (£m)

  • 76.9 Our 2009 Performance
  • 52.9 Our 2008 Performance

5 Combination of figures calculated from London Benchmarking Group methodology and cost of voluntary programmes to support vulnerable customers in the UK. Group cash donations during the year amounted to £4.8 million (2008: £5.9 million). In line with Group policy, no donations were made for political purposes. The Group, in the normal course of its business, has paid for its management to attend events at which politicians and other opinion formers have been present, but does not consider these payments to be political donations

 

Mary Francis CBE
Senior Independent Director and Chair of the Corporate Responsibility Committee
25 February 2010