Rising levels of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere are causing global temperatures to rise. In turn, this is causing sea levels to rise, deserts to expand, droughts to become more frequent, icecaps to melt and tundra to thaw – all leading to increases in poverty and hunger.
In response, the UK government has committed the country to legally binding GHG emission reductions, compared to 1990 levels, as follows:
(Climate Change Act 2008, https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2008/27/contents )
There are already statutory obligations on the very large GHG emitters requiring them to reduce their contribution to global warming. However, that’s not enough to enable the UK to reach net-zero. By 2050 we all, individuals and businesses, have to reach net-zero too.
NVC is shouldering its full responsibility and is now (May 2022) carbon neutral.
NET ZERO & CARBON NEUTRALITY
The most significant greenhouse gas is CO₂. Many human activities involve emitting CO₂ - including just breathing - so it is almost impossible for an individual to achieve what is sometimes called “carbon zero”.
However, it is practical to achieve net zero (or carbon neutrality). This is where our emissions are balanced (or offset) by other activities (such as planting trees or building a wind-farm) that either absorb CO₂ from the atmosphere (which trees do as they grow) or displace other CO₂ emitting activities (as a wind-farm, which emits no CO₂, can displace a coal-fired power station which is a major CO₂ emitter).
This is carbon offsetting, and it is the approach that NVC Lighting has taken to achieve carbon neutrality.
CO₂ & GREENHOUSE GASES
CO₂ is not the only GHG, but by most measures it is the most significant cause of climate change. Other gases can have a much greater climate warming effect per kg emitted, but they tend to be produced in much smaller quantities than CO₂. Therefore, we followed globally recognised standards when we measured our GHG emissions and converted them into tonnes of CO₂ equivalent, written as t CO₂e.
So, while we talk about being “carbon neutral”, in fact we are taking account of all our greenhouse gas emissions, not just the CO₂.
DO IT RIGHT - THREE STEPS TO BECOMING CARBON NEUTRAL
In achieving carbon neutrality, we were determined to “do it right”.
For us, it was not enough to make a rough calculation of our CO₂ emissions and then make some undisclosed contributions to our favorite local projects. We wanted a comprehensive calculation of all our GHG emissions which we could then offset in a process that was accurate, transparent and audited.
To help us, we engaged Carbon Neutral Britain, https://carbonneutralbritain.org/, a leading consultancy and offsetting organization based in London. Under their guidance we completed three steps on the journey to carbon neutrality, and these will be reviewed annually in future:
1. Using internationally recognised standards and the support of Carbon Neutral Britain we have calculated our GHG emissions. In the year April 2021 – March 2022 our GHG emissions were 463 tonnes of CO₂ equivalent (t CO₂e).
2. Under Carbon Neutral Britain’s guidance, we have offset our emissions by investing a sum of money (based on the current market price for each tonne of CO₂e) in The Climate Fund. This fund invests in internationally audited projects to enable them to carry out activities that result in our total GHG emissions for the year in question to be sequestered or displaced
3. All the projects to which NVC contributes are audited by internationally recognised bodies to ensure that the money invested in them will yield the promised sequestration of carbon or displacement of GHGs.
NVC’s GHG EMISSION CALCULATION
Our GHG emissions are calculated for the whole NVC UK business, from the point at which we take delivery of light fittings from the factory (typically in China) to the point where we deliver them to our customer (typically a UK-based wholesaler or one of our subsidiaries in Scandinavia).
For the purposes of calculation, our GHG emissions in the year to March 2022 were calculated under 3 separate headings:
OFSETTING – WHAT SORT OF PROJECTS ARE WE SUPPORTING?
To offset our GHG emissions, we have paid a sum of money (via Carbon Neutral Britain), and they have invested it in The Climate Fund – a basket of internationally audited projects involved in three main areas of activity. Because we are part of the electrical industry we decided to focus our offset funds on supporting projects that generate renewable, zero-carbon, power.
The projects in which NVC has invested are all certified by one of either the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), or the Gold Standard Voluntary Emission Reductions (VER) or the Certified Emission Reductions (CER) programme.
Where are these projects based?
The projects we are supporting are all in Asia, Africa and Latin America. None of them are in the UK or Western Europe. The reason for this is that we are adhering to the principle of “additionality”.
We are concerned that any initiative we support would not have gone ahead without our involvement, and the involvement of other like-minded contributors. There are many reafforestation projects in the UK and Europe (for example) that we could support, but many of them would probably go ahead anyway even if we did not support them. We want our money to be in addition to what would have happened anyway – and to achieve this The Climate Fund seeks out projects where additionality applies.
OUR JOURNEY TO CARBON NEUTRALITY
While offsetting encourages many positive environmental initiatives round the world we are also concerned to reduce our GHG emissions wherever we can. Here are just a few of the things we have done recently to reduce our emissions:
Going forward, we are looking closely at installing solar panels on our warehouse rooves.
HELPING OUR CUSTOMERS AND SUPPLIERS ACHIEVE NET-ZERO
Much of what we have done over the past 10 years has helped our customers and suppliers reduce their GHG emissions: