1. Knowing our carbon footprint
World Habitat first calculated its carbon emissions in 2015 and again in 2016, with 2016 being used as the baseline year for a net-zero target by 2030. Our Board of Trustees have approved more ambitious targets to reduce our carbon emissions to net-zero by 2030 (instead of a 50% reduction by 2030 and net-zero by 2050 as originally proposed).
Our 2016 carbon footprint was calculated to be 121 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) with air travel constituting almost 60% of our total emissions. We used the DEFRA carbon emissions calculator to measure our footprint, which includes Scope 2 and 3 emissions from:
- staff commuting to work;
- business travel (air, rail, bus, ferry, taxi);
- mileage claimed by staff, trustees and suppliers/partners;
- electricity used;
- water used; and
- waste disposal.
Each year since then we have been measuring our footprint and communicating these results to our staff and trustees, and publishing them in our annual report.
We will be reducing our annual emissions by 8.64 tonnes or 7% each year in order to achieve net-zero by 2030.
2. Reducing our emissions
We have developed a carbon management plan and taken steps to reduce our emissions. These include:
- improving the energy efficiency of our office in Coalville e.g. changing all lighting to LED and installing loft and cavity wall insulation;
- switching to a renewable energy provider;
- setting an annual organisational emission reduction target, and an annual carbon budget for each programme; and
- regularly communicating on our carbon spending to staff and trustees.
Our immediate response to the COVID-19 pandemic – which included remote working and greater use of online communications has reduced related emissions significantly. In 2021, our carbon emissions were 15.07 tonnes.
We are proactively adjusting our approaches and policies so that we can continue to have a growing impact as an organisation, whilst reducing our carbon emissions. We recently implemented a sustainable travel policy, a 9-day fortnight scheme and are engaging with staff on Carbon Literacy and ways to reduce carbon footprint.
3. Aligning our investments with our organisational values
We recognise that as a charity we have an influential role to play in shaping a sustainable financial system. We want to make sure that our investments are in harmony with our mission and values.
We approved a new ethical policy as part of our investment policy in 2020. This highlighted how our investments must support our values and not have a detrimental impact on the people we are trying to help. The ethical policy ensures our investments are free from arms sales to military regimes, unethical lending practices, human rights violations, environmental degradation and activities – such as fossil fuel extraction – that are incompatible with the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit the increase in global average temperature to 2°C and pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5°C.
We commissioned an investment consultancy firm to carry out a review of our current investment funds during 2020 to see if they met our ethical policy. As a result of this work the trustees agreed to a full review of our investments in 2021, providing a handful of investment firms with our selected criteria for the new funds, and asked them to present a fund that meets the requirements of our ethical policy. This including paying a total return of 4% per annum.
Following this review, our Board of Trustees agreed to move our investments to the Cazenove Responsible Multi-Asset Fund and the Sarasin Climate Active Endowments Fund. We are now in the process of moving our investments to the new funds and this will be completed by the end of 2021.
In addition, we also invest in housing-related programmes that reduce carbon emissions and also help provide safe and secure housing for low-income people.
4. Sharing our learning and working together with other organisations
We believe it is important to share our learning, processes and work with others to bring about positive impact on the climate crisis. We are a signatory to ACF Funder Commitment on Climate Change, which consists of six commitments or goals that World Habitat and other signatories pledge to work towards to play our part in tackling the causes and impacts of the climate emergency. By publicly expressing our commitment, the Funder Commitment makes us accountable – not least to making sure we stay fully committed to what we are working towards, including reporting back. It also enables us to exchange with a community of people working on similar issues and connects us to a growing #PhilanthropyForClimate global movement, which brings together various national and international philanthropy climate commitments
We have also achieved PlanetMark certification for a second consecutive year, which recognises our commitment to reduce our carbon footprint by at least 5% per year. PlanetMark, an internationally recognised sustainability certification for every type of organisation, also fosters a connection to other holders of the PlanetMark resulting in shared learning and the ability to develop collaboration opportunities.
To find out more about our recent COP26 Event Monday 8th November click here