Businesses failing to comprehensively measure and manage emissions

Only 10% of major companies are comprehensively measuring and reducing emissions across the value chain, with a new survey finding that businesses could be saving millions of pounds by acting on decarbonisation.

Businesses failing to comprehensively measure and manage emissions

The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) surveyed more than 1,600 organisations for its 2022 CO2 AI by BCG Carbon Emissions Survey, published this week. Each organisation had at least 1,000 employees and revenues ranged from $100m to more than $10bn. Organisations were based across 14 industries and 18 countries and are, in aggregate, accountable for around 40% of global emissions.

The survey found that only 10% of companies are measuring scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions comprehensively – an increase of 1% on 2021 levels. Additionally, respondents reported a 35% to 30% average error rate in the carbon emission measurements.

“These measurements are crucial to helping companies work towards their net-zero goals,” BCG’s CO2 AI’s founder Charlotte Degot said. “And they need be supported by digital tools that help them achieve accuracy and comprehensiveness, which helps decision making for reduction.”

With CDP reporting that Scope 3 emissions can account for more than 90% of a company’s emissions, the BCG survey warns that only 12% of organisations surveyed consider scope 3 their top priority.

The survey also notes the business benefits of acting on decarbonisation. Of the respondents who claimed they were measuring the full scope of their emissions, 64% noted that they were able to reduce these emissions “significantly”. Moreover, more than 70% of survey respondents claim that they can generate at least $1m in annual benefits from emissions reductions, with 37% claiming these benefits would surpass $100m.

Other business benefits include improved reputation (cited by 54%) and attracting and retaining talent (cited by 37%).

SME challenge

Emissions measurement is challenging for any businesses, but SMEs are particularly stretched by efforts to improve action in this area.

A poll of more than 1,000 UK-based SMEs has found that just one in ten are measuring the carbon footprint of their operations.

The poll was conducted by O2 and the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) last year, garnering responses from 1,072 businesses. Of these respondents, 94% represented SMEs.

Of the respondents from SMEs, just 11% said their firm is measuring greenhouse gas emissions annually or more regularly. As a rule of thumb, the smaller the business, the less likely it was to be undertaking this task. The proportion fell to 9% for small businesses and 5% for microbusinesses. In comparison, the BCC estimates that the portion of UK businesses with 50 or more employees that measure emissions is 26%.

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