Report: Remote working means UK businesses will underreport 470,000 tonnes of carbon in 2020

UK businesses are on track to collectively underreport their 2020 carbon emissions by almost half-a-million tonnes, as they face challenges monitoring the emissions generated by employees working from home.

Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) lists emissions generated by employees working at home as an optional aspect for disclosure

Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) lists emissions generated by employees working at home as an optional aspect for disclosure

That is according to energy supplier Bulb and consultancy Ecoact, who partnered to research the impact of the UK’s coronavirus lockdown on corporate sustainability reporting and environmental governance.

Using the Office for National Statistics’ finding that more than 44% of the UK’s working population are now working exclusively from home, coupled with National Grid figures proving that domestic electricity use is currently up 25% year-on-year and analysis of the grid mix, the firms calculated that employees generated 100,000 tonnes of carbon through their home electricity consumption since March.

The further 370,000 tonnes of emissions are attributable to household gas use. This figure was calculated using averages from Bulb customers in London who have smart meters installed, with Bulb claiming it is a “conservative estimate” when the national picture is considered.

Under current Government rules and under most major reporting frameworks, it is optional for companies to record and report the carbon emissions generated by employees at home. However, given that more than 14 million people are now working from home exclusively, and with many businesses confirming or considering either fully or partly remote workforces for the future, Bulb is calling for rules to be shifted. Without a full view of their carbon footprint, the firm argues, businesses will be unable to deliver meaningful reduction or offsetting initiatives across Scope 1 (direct) and Scope 2 (power-related) emissions, in line with or ahead of national climate targets.

“The coronavirus changes the way we work, so naturally it changes the way companies impact the climate,” Bulb co-founder Amit Gudka said. “Firms across the UK must now adjust to this, and we must change the rules on how we report company emissions… so we don’t lose sight of net-zero goals.”

The call to action from Bulb comes around a year-and-a-half after the UK Government introduced the Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) framework.


Sarah George


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