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In conversation with Hannah Dales: Churchill’s Pathway to Net Zero

At Churchill, our focus on our emissions output has never been more important. We are committed to decreasing our carbon emissions throughout our operations, and to becoming a net zero business by 2040. But what does net zero mean, and how are we going to achieve it?

Net Zero: What it means and how to get there
Net zero can be defined as reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero, or to a residual level that is consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5°C. When the greenhouse gases going into the atmosphere are balanced by removal out of the atmosphere, for CO2 at least, global warming stops. This is important because the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) declared that limiting global warming to 1.5°C would prevent the most challenging impacts on ecosystems, human health, and well-being. They calculated that to achieve this target, the world must reach net zero status by 2050.

When assessing our emissions footprint to determine net zero pathways, 3 data scopes need to be considered:

  • Scope 1 emissions: these are direct emissions from owned or controlled sources such as company vehicles;
  • Scope 2 emissions: these are indirect emissions from the generation of purchased energy; and
  • Scope 3 emissions: these include all indirect emissions, both upstream and downstream such as emissions associated with upstream distribution and downstream waste generation.

At Churchill, we already have a good understanding of our emissions from scopes 1 and 2, and we have reported on these emissions since 2020. We have implemented various initiatives and adaptations to our ways of working to make a difference. Over 75% of energy used in our offices comes from renewable sources, and we are planning to implement smart meters in all non-serviced offices by the end of this year. Churchill also has a fleet of electric cars and vans as part of the company vehicle fleet, and we are offering electric and/or hybrid options in each of our company car categories.

However, to fully understand and map out our pathway to net zero, we need to ensure an accurate understanding of our scope 3 emissions. To do this, we have partnered with specialist environmental consultancy Acclaro Advisory, who will be supporting us both in understanding our emissions footprint, and in helping us to comprehensively map out our strategy to achieve net zero.

What’s next for Churchill?
Following a tender process earlier this year we are delighted to be working with Acclaro Advisory on this next phase of our journey to map out our pathway to net zero. Acclaro Advisory is a leader in carbon reduction strategies and sustainability in the FM industry and run the Sustainable Facilities Management Index (SFMI). It has also recently produced an industry leading report on creating a standardised approach for the calculation of scope 3 emissions specifically in the FM sector.

Our objectives for this partnership are to validate our scope 1 and 2 carbon footprints, and to obtain a comprehensive scope 3 carbon footprint for our organisation in line with the GHG Protocol 15 categories. We will work with Acclaro to use this data to set time bound reduction targets across the business to meet net zero by 2040.

As a group, Churchill is also committed to submitting our carbon reduction targets to the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) for validation. The SBTi is a partnership between the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), the United Nations Global Compact, World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), and is widely recognised as the global standard for setting robust science-based carbon reduction targets that align with 1.5°C global warming. Through our partnership with Acclaro we aim to have submitted our targets to the SBTi by June next year.

The next six months are going to be a crucial time for us in progressing our net zero strategy, and there is lots to do in that period. It is an exciting project that we have embarked on with Acclaro, and we are looking forward to being able to map out our responsibilities in the global journey to limiting climate change, and to contributing to a more sustainable future, and a more sustainable FM sector.