As part of Shape History’s Plan for the Planet, we’re disclosing our most recent GHG emissions assessment. In 2022, our operations were responsible for 113.3 tCO2e. Keep reading to find out what this means.
First, an introduction to carbon emissions and reporting…
Navigating the complexities of climate change can be an incredibly difficult journey. But ultimately, we can simplify it down to two things: the amount of carbon in our atmosphere and the average global temperature.
We started this piece letting you know that last year, our operations were responsible for 113 tCO2e. But before we talk more about this, let’s start with another number… 421.
If we were to divide our atmosphere into a million separate parts, 421 of those would consist of carbon dioxide. Thus 421 parts per million (ppm) is the amount of carbon dioxide currently in our atmosphere.
This number may not appear substantial, but it is. For millennia, carbon dioxide in our atmosphere has never been above 300ppm. In 1911, it reached that height again. In 1958 it was around 317 ppm. Today it is 420ppm. The rise is staggering. We’re not just breaking targets, we’re massively accelerating – with limited action being taken to hit the brakes.
Why does this matter? What is the result?
Well ultimately, our world is heating up, fast. The amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere directly correlates with increased temperature across our planet. This increases extreme weather events as the rise in heat and moisture disrupts fundamental atmospheric circulation patterns, and results in the impacts of climate change that we are already experiencing today.
Today’s debate largely centres on a 1, 1.5, 2, and 2.5 degree Celsius temperature increase. Again, to many, this appears small. But let’s flip perspectives again. Let’s go back in time…
Think about the Ice Age. What comes to your mind? Sid the sloth? Perhaps freezing temperatures and a planet encased in ice? The world was a much different place to the one we know today. Yet, the average temperature of the planet back then – when Mammoths roamed the earth – was only 6 degrees Celsius cooler than today.
Doesn’t sound like much right? Yet human activities have already almost changed our average temperature by 25% of that in the opposite direction. 25%! Now imagine what the world will look like if we don’t act.
Although some countries, and some companies, are the biggest culprits and drivers of global warming, meeting the targets outlined in the Paris agreement requires everyone to act: Businesses. Consumers. Governments – and that requires a drastic decrease in the amount of emissions we are all pumping into the atmosphere.
But in order to reduce emissions, we first need to be able to measure them. How many emissions are we responsible for? What are the biggest drivers of our emissions? How have our emissions increased/decreased over the years? That’s why we need to count carbon.
ENTER… CARBON ACCOUNTING!
Carbon accounting is a massively growing field. Using it, we can calculate an organisations carbon footprint and understand where its emissions come from.
We measure this through tCO2e, or “total carbon dioxide equivalent,” – a way to measure all the greenhouse gases a process or activity produces in terms of their impact on climate change. It adds up the emissions of different gases, like carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, by converting them into a common unit.
Calculating tCO2e relies on two sets of data: business data and emissions factors.
- Business data
Business data describes the activities performed by a business. This can be either:
- Spend data – how much money was paid to company X for a certain good or service. This is less accurate but easier and less resource intensive to work out.
- Activity data – how many litres of fuel or kilograms of material were bought, how many miles were travelled in an economy flight, how many kilowatts of energy were used in a given year?
- Emissions factors
Emission factors are the carbon accountants’ currency converters, specifying the associated greenhouse gas emissions per unit of business data. It allows us to know the difference in carbon emissions from 1kwh electricity on the UK’s electricity grid vs 1kwh on France’s. They are a crucial ingredient in enabling us to reveal the environmental impact of companies’ activities.
SO WHAT WERE SHAPE HISTORY’S EMISSIONS FROM 2022?
We first commissioned Greenly in 2021 to conduct our assessment, which found that we were responsible for 77tCO2 in the previous year. However, due to the pandemic, this did not provide us with accurate figures for our typical company emissions.
So we decided to re-run the exercise for 2022 to decide our base emissions to work from.
The findings are now in:
- Our total emissions for the 2022 calendar year came to 113 tC02e. This is the equivalent of 66 London – New York round trips.
- Emissions are calculated across scopes.
- Scope 1: direct emissions from burning fossil fuels like gas.
- Scope 2: indirect emissions from energy production.
- Scope 3: emissions in our value chain—think business travel, product use, hosting websites.
- In 2022, our Scope 1 and 2 emissions totaled 4.8 tCO2e or 0.01 t per employee, whilst Scope 3 contributed 108.5 tCO2e or 3.3 t per employee.
- Scopes can be confusing, so where do our emissions actually stem from? Below, we’ve provided an overview of the parts of our business that contribute the most. You can see that services and product purchases contribute to over 50%!
what does this mean?
Knowing this data is useful. But it’s useless if we don’t act. We’re using this data to develop new processes and policies to adapt our business practices and become more sustainable. We are aiming to meet a 50% reduction across our emissions by 2030. You can read all about it in our Plan for the Planet.