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

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

Comments (2)

  1. Roger Horne says:

    No mention in the article of the carbon (and urban atmospheric pollution) saved through people not driving to work. Would have been good to see a link to the report on which this article is based

  2. Ian Byrne says:

    I agree with Roger, but it’s a whole lot more complex than it appears at first sight. I rent shared office space, so that’s still being lit (and possibly heated) when I’m not there. If you use public transport, the odds are that much of it will be running, even if you are not on it. So many of the apparent savings may be illusory. Phil Grunewald of the ECI in Oxford has also done some interesting analysis, especially of the increase in domestic use. What’s not clear yet is whether the overall reduction in use is mainly from industry or includes office sector use too. Certainly I think I
    our energy intensity has worsened (energy used per unit of GDP).
    And I looked on the websites of both Bulb and Eco-Act, yet couldn’t find this report. There is a Net Zero report on Eco_act, but I don’t see it relates.

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie