There’s scientific consensus that global warming is not only happening, but is taking place at a pace unprecedented for over a thousand years. In recognition that it’s likely been induced by human activities*, I believe we all have an important role to play in tackling climate change, whether it’s by becoming more energy efficient, recycling our waste or choosing a more fuel efficient car.
Here at Centrica, we recognise that climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing the world so as part of Climate Week, I thought I’d talk about what we’re doing to cut our internal carbon footprint.
How have we done so far?
In 2014, the internal carbon footprint of our core offices, fleet and travel declined by 3% compared to 2013, totalling 80,288tCO2e. This means that since 2007, we have achieved a reduction of over 25%, against our 20% target by end of 2015.
Focussing on our property footprint
A major proportion of our internal carbon footprint relates to energy used in our properties, so it’s a big focus area for us and since 2007, we’ve reduced these emissions by 37%. In 2014, our imported energy consumption declined 7.5% through the installation of renewable technology, such as solar PV, biomass boilers and more efficient lighting. Despite this, our carbon emissions rose by 1% because the average carbon intensity of electricity across the UK increased due to extended running of coal power plants. Had the UK power mix stayed constant, our property emissions would have fallen by an impressive 7.9%. This is a sobering reminder that we need to tackle climate change on many fronts, not only in how we consume energy, but also in how it’s generated.
To offset this impact and to ensure we reduce our energy use even further, we’ll continue to improve the efficiency of our properties in 2015. This includes installing a biomass plant at our Windsor HQ (198kWth capacity), a Combined Heat and Power plant at our Leeds office (70kW capacity) and enhancing Building Management Systems to gain greater control over the energy we consume.
Driving down leet emissions
We also reduced the emissions of our van fleet by around 1% in 2014, which amounts to 24% since 2007. This is in part due to British Gas’ pioneering role as a UK leader in electric commercial fleet transport. We currently have 50 fully electric vans in our fleet, with a further 63 soon to be delivered. And by 2017, we have committed to make 10% of our 13,000-strong fleet electric. This not only cuts carbon, but running costs too.
For these efforts, British Gas received the Green Fleet Award’s Private Sector Fleet of the Year for medium to large fleets, as well as winning the Outstanding Achievement Award for the UK’s largest electric vehicle trial which took place last winter.
Taking action on travel emissions
We’re also making sure that our company cars are efficient and in 2014, these emissions reduced by over 3%. We placed another 700 employees into lower-carbon cars when their existing agreements came up for renewal, while 175 people are now using hybrids or electric vehicles (EV). To further encourage take-up, 38 EV charge points have been installed across our properties. As a result, the emissions from our company car fleet reduced by over 3% in 2014 compared to 2013, while the average tailpipe emissions declined by 27% from 2008, to 117gCO2/km.
We encourage our people to avoid unnecessary travel by instead using technology, such as video-conferencing or live-meetings. This has contributed to the emissions associated with our company air travel being cut by almost 30% in 2014. I am also encouraged by our continued increase in rail travel as a lower-carbon travel alternative, which was up 50% in 2014.
I’m committed to ensure we take swift and meaningful action to reduce our impact on climate change, not just today but for tomorrow too. Will you?
* IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, Summary for Policymakers