Industrial Air Pollution

Majority of emissions from UK firms not covered by decarbonisation targets

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Almost two-thirds of carbon emissions from UK corporations are not currently covered by decarbonisation targets, research has revealed.

According to consultants Bain & Company (B&C) and carbon disclosure platform CDP, 64 per cent of Scope 1 and 2 emissions by UK companies are not covered by a target, rising to 69 per cent for Scope 3 emissions.

Scope 1 and 2 emissions cover those that are generated by a company itself including the emissions of the energy it sources. Scope 3 emissions encompass those that are not produced by the company itself but are generated as a result of consumers using its products.

The report The road to net zero starts with your core business finds that even among UK companies that are setting targets, 21 per cent are currently expected to miss their 2030 targets for Scope 1 and 2 emissions, while 31 per cent are set to miss Scope 3 targets.

The full number of companies off track in relation to the UK’s net-zero plan is likely to be far higher once all businesses not disclosing or setting targets are taken into account. The findings follow the government’s acknowledgement that the UK is currently set to miss the key interim 2030 goal of cutting emissions by 60 per cent compared with 1990 levels.

B&C warned that the current lack of progress could see companies falling behind incoming regulation, such as the announcement at COP26 that listed companies and financial institutions will be mandated to disclose their transition plans.

However, the report uncovered some optimistic figures. The number of UK businesses disclosing emissions reduction targets through CDP increased by around 130 per cent between 2020 and 2022, with average annual increases of 52 per cent a year over the period.

UK businesses are also decarbonising faster than their counterparts in Europe and North America. On average, UK companies have cut emissions by 8 per cent since they began reporting through CDP, compared with just 4 per cent for their US and European counterparts.

Dexter Galvin, chief commercial officer at CDP, said: “It is concerning that the majority of UK companies have yet to set and deliver on targets in line with the annual emissions reductions needed to align with a 1.5°C pathway, especially given the various disclosure regulations already, or set to be, implemented across the globe that will have significant impacts on UK companies.

“As the report shows, companies can truly embrace decarbonisation and add value to their business – these are not mutually exclusive. But you need to show leadership to do it, with credible transition plans aligned with 1.5°C that bring your senior managers along with you and link decarbonisation to core value proposition and value creation. The fact is there are nowhere near enough companies taking the necessary steps to do this, even though it is good for business, people and the planet.”

In June, a survey of aviation experts found that the majority did not believe their industry would become carbon neutral by the stated 2050 goal.

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