BWCI has made a further step towards sustainable business practices and the mitigation of climate change by enrolling in ESI Monitor’s Environmental Business Operations Framework. This marks the next stage in the sustainability journey for BWCI, where they will soon be able to expertly measure, manage, and minimise their environmental impact.
It’s great to see more businesses put sustainability and climate change on their agendas. Well done!
Environmental Business Operations Framework
ESI Monitor’s Environmental Business Operations Framework is structured as an environmental management system that allows businesses of any sector or size to measure, manage, minimise, and continually improve its operational environmental footprint.
Achieving the Environmental Business Operations Framework demonstrates to customers, staff, and business partners that the organisation:
You can learn more about the Environmental Business Operations Award and how your business can get involved here.
Even if all other main sources of greenhouse gasses (GHGs) were stopped, the emissions resulting from food production would still be great enough to cripple our chances of achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement, which are to keep global warming below 2C and preferably below 1.5C. In fact, farming and food account for roughly a third of all global GHG emissions, producing approximately 16 billion tonnes of CO2 per year.
Research published in the journal ‘Science’ looked at the most highly produced food types worldwide and calculated the environmental impact of each across a number of categories. The four foods with the highest footprints were beef-herd beef (60kg of CO2e per 1kg); lamb and mutton (25kg of CO2e per 1kg); cheese (21kg of CO2e per 1kg); and dairy-herd beef (21kg of CO2e per 1kg).
The total footprint for each product is divided into the categories of land use change, animal feed, farm, processing, transport, packaging, and retail. All four aforementioned products’ footprints are primarily comprised of the farm category, which relates to the emissions from animals, plants, fertilisers, manure, and machinery.
This trend is seen clearly throughout the data; across all food products’ footprints, the farm category was responsible for 58% of the total emissions. This was followed by land use change at 21% and animal feed at 7.6%. Transport was responsible for only 3.3% of the total emissions, challenging the popular belief that the best thing you can do to lessen your food’s footprint is to buy local.
Across all foods featured in the study, meat and other animal products were by far the greatest emitters, averaging at 24kg of CO2e per 1kg of meat, and 10kg of CO2e per 1kg of animal products. In comparison, the emissions for vegetables averaged at just 0.4kg of CO2e per 1kg. The diagram below shows the carbon footprints of a number of products across the categories of meat, animal products, oils, fruits, and vegetables. The footprints of all products featured in the study can be found here.
If you’ve read to this point, you probably have a good understanding that meats and animal products are pretty awful for the environment. While we can work to reduce the emissions from processing, packaging, feed, land use change, transport, and retail, there is one thing we cannot change; enteric fermentation (farting, essentially). In 2018, enteric fermentation from domestic ruminants (cattle, sheep, etc) was responsible for 178 million tonnes of methane emissions in the USA, making it the largest producer of methane in the country. When assessing the impact that various gasses have on our climate, scientists use what are called Global Warming Potentials (GWPs). All greenhouse gasses are compared to carbon dioxide, which is given a GWP of 1. Methane, by comparison, has a GWP of 25. This means that methane has a warming effect 25 times greater than that of Carbon Dioxide (which we already know is pretty bad).
The truth is that animals are just not very good at turning plant energy into animal energy and produce a lot of methane. The larger the animal is, the worse this tends to get. Bar adopting a vegan diet, the best thing you can do to reduce your food footprint is to make some sustainable swaps. If the average person in the UK swapped out beef for poultry, they would reduce their emissions by approximately 268kg per year!*
When it comes to climate change, many of us can feel overwhelmed and powerless to make a difference. As individuals, it seems like there is very little we can do in the face of governments and global corporations addicted to fossil fuels. However, changing our diets is something we all can do, that can make a huge difference. So please, consider reducing your meat consumption today.
*The average UK household purchases 96g of beef/veal per person per week. For one person, this would equate to 5kg of beef/veal per year, and 298kg of CO2e emissions. In this case, if beef were swapped with poultry, the related emissions would be reduced by 268kg, equalling only 30kg of CO2e.
Mandatory board-level management and disclosure of the risks and opportunities presented by climate change is now imminent. It is vital that organisations within scope engage proactively in order to provide meaningful disclosures. ESI Monitor’s professional consultancy team are well positioned to advise your business and to carry out assessments.
Assessing and reporting on climate change exposure is now a vital part of governance and risk management for companies today. Those business with energy or land-intensive operations, or those with investments in these sectors, will find that a climate change risk assessment will show how exposed they are to both the physical and economic risks of climate change. The risks include long-term, chronic impacts such as rising sea levels, changing weather patterns and sustained temperature rises, as well as immediate risks such as shocks to financial systems as organisations struggle to interpret and adjust to new regulations and information.
For many jurisdictions, TCFD is fast becoming the de facto standard for companies to assess and disclose their climate risk exposure. In the UK, the Treasury has published a Roadmap expecting all listed UK companies to be providing TCFD-aligned disclosures by 2023 (representing a market capitalisation of £2.9 trillion). Banks, insurance companies, asset managers and pension schemes representing a further £26 trillion will also be covered by 2023.
Similar requirements are now likely to apply to Guernsey financial services companies following the Guernsey Financial Services Commission’s consultation ‘Spring Green’, published in March this year. The Commission proposes to update its Finance Sector Code of Corporate Governance to include an obligation on boards to “consider the impact of climate change on the firm’s business strategy and risk profile” and make disclosures where appropriate. The rule is expected to apply from any financial year starting from October 2021.
Our experts are ready to advise and are well versed in applying the TCFD recommendations to produce a clear and insightful risk register and disclosure reports, and our digital Framework provides an efficient and effective toolkit to measure and record the Scope 1, 2 and 3 greenhouse gas emissions that must be disclosed under TCFD.
Contact us today at [email protected] to ensure your organisation is on track to disclose.
Our words carry a lot of meaning. Careful choice is required to avoid under or overstating a message. Nevertheless, we have a habit of using hyperbole in our everyday language, whether it be to make oneself seem more interesting, to make a headline more click-worthy, or to emphasise a point in an argument. Scientists, however, have an obligation to be clear and unambiguous in their communications; there is no room for dramatic exaggeration in the scientific space. So, when over 13,000 scientists declare unequivocally that the Earth is facing a climate emergency, we need to take it seriously.
In an article published by the academic journal BioScience titled “World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency”, authors presented a number of graphs showing damning climate change trends. They also discussed the moral duty of scientists to clearly communicate to humanity any catastrophic threats and concluded that, based on this, a climate emergency should be declared. At the time of the article’s publication, over 11,000 scientists had become signatories, showing their agreement with the statement. Since, the number of scientist signatories has risen to 13,700.
An emergency is defined as a serious and often dangerous situation which demands an immediate response to mitigate. All the evidence points towards climate change perfectly meeting this definition. The authors of the BioScience article state that “the climate crisis has arrived and is accelerating faster than most scientists expected. It is more severe than anticipated, threatening natural ecosystems and the fate of humanity”. In light of this, the paper offers six important steps that humanity must follow to mitigate the worst parts of the climate emergency, covering energy, short-lived pollutants, nature, food, economy, and population. These steps are summarised below.
Achieving these steps will be no simple task, but it is vital to the survival of our planet and our species that we do. In the face of an emergency of this magnitude, we cannot afford to be idle.
The sustainability reporting space is often difficult to navigate due to the broad range of frameworks, standards, and methodologies available to businesses around the world. When faced with this abundance, many organisations fail to find the time to sift through the deluge of acronyms, websites, and documents needed to understand which path will be most relevant and useful to them. This can lead to companies giving up on sustainability reporting entirely, or investing their time and money into something that just doesn’t work for them.
ESI Monitor have done the research here, so you don’t have to!
We have created a brochure outlining the what, why, and how of sustainability reporting, which covers both voluntary international standards and mandatory UK and EU reporting. The brochure provides insight into over 20 different sustainability standards, frameworks, and methodologies including the TCFD, ISO 14064, the UN SDGs, and the CDP. Each framework, standard, and methodology is broken down into their most important and relevant components, so you can quickly create a clear picture of what each is, how it works, and what benefits it can provide.
On a hot and humid day, nothing beats the sweet relief of a cool air-conditioned space. With the six warmest years on record all being since 2015, we are becoming increasingly dependent on air-conditioning to battle the heat in our homes, offices, shops, and cars. However, ironically, the technology we rely on to cool our spaces, is warming our world.
The cooling effects of air conditioning units are generated through the use of refrigerants, which include hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). These refrigerants slowly leak out of the units in a gas form, averaging at rates of 7-12% annually. The leakage of these gasses has highly damaging effects on our planet.
When assessing the impact that various gasses have on our climate, scientists use what are called Global Warming Potentials (GWPs). All greenhouse gasses are compared to Carbon Dioxide, which is given a GWP of 1. One of the most commonly used refrigerant gasses, R22, has a GWP of 1760. This means that R22 has a warming effect 1760 times greater than that of Carbon Dioxide. When quantifying emissions, the term Carbon Dioxide equivalents (CO2e) is used to represent the quantity of Carbon Dioxide that would create the same amount of warming. In the case of a single small air conditioner using an R22 refrigerant, 82kg of CO2e would be emitted per year*.
R22 and many other HCFCs are being phased out internationally due to their deleterious effects. However, their replacements, HFCs, are still very harmful. R32, for example, has a GWP of 677, meaning that a small air conditioner using this refrigerant would emit 31kg of CO2e per year. This may not sound like a lot, but estimates suggest there are over one billion small air conditioners in the world. Even using the most environmentally friendly refrigerants, that would still equate to 31 million tonnes of CO2e per year from just these small units alone!
The issue, of course, is not limited to small air conditioning units. Vehicle air conditioners, heat pumps, transport refrigeration, household fridges, and freezers all use (and leak) harmful refrigerant emissions. The electrical power required to fuel this equipment also takes a massive toll on our environment, which is only set to increase as more and more people turn to domestic air-conditioning.
The solution to all this is to avoid using air-conditioning. It’s pretty obvious, but frustratingly hard to accept if you’re used to a climate-controlled life. Unfortunately, the battle against climate change is often one of sacrifices such as this. However, with the help of fans, added greenery, better insulation, and increased airflow, you can make life without air-conditioning a little easier. If you’re not prepared to forgo air-conditioning entirely, consider upgrading your unit to a newer and more efficient model, which utilises HFCs such as R32.
*figure calculated using the following formula and assuming a charge capacity of 1.55kg and leakage rate of 3.0%: kgCO2e= number of units x charge capacity (kg) x times used (years) x leak rate (%) x GWP
London based ESI Monitor consultant Fred Betley has recently qualified as a Carbon Footprint Analyst, demonstrating professional competency in conducting carbon footprint assessments in accordance with the GHG Protocol.
After graduating in the first cohort of Global Sustainable Development at the University of Warwick, Fred joined ESI Monitor as an environmental consultant and has since played a fundamental role in developing the organisation. Fred’s recent qualification means he is now able to guide businesses through the process of a carbon audit to the highest international standards, provide them with detailed insights into their environmental impact, and help them to track their emissions and set targets for reduction.
Marc Laine, Founder of ESI Monitor, said “Though already highly knowledgeable in environmental matters, Fred’s recent qualification elevates his expertise to a level which facilitates best practice in sustainability measuring and reporting. We are all proud of Fred and are excited to utilise his latest accomplishment to improve our offerings.”
“Companies that don’t adapt will go bankrupt without question.”
Mark Carney, Former Governor of the Bank of England and UN Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance
In a world struggling to emerge from the global pandemic, international governments are pinning their collective economic hopes on a green-led economic recovery. Sustainability remains high on the world’s agenda for 2021; with the US re-signing of the Paris Agreement on climate change and COP26 coming up later this year in Glasgow. The pressure on businesses to act sustainably is growing all the time, with longer-term taxes, and penalties for companies, citizens, and nations that fail to act. As Mark Carney said in 2020, “Companies that don’t adapt will go bankrupt without question”. In this environment, sustainability data will reign supreme; there will be no room for greenwashing, virtue signalling, paying to pollute, or failing to measure and minimise environmental and ESG performance data.
Trustees and family offices will not escape the consequences for their own operations nor those of their clients. However, the international focus on the existential climate crisis will also provide business opportunities for family office and trust practitioners to develop new services or lines of business and differentiate themselves from the pack.
Adaptation of current practice will also be required. The carbon intensity of client activities will come under increased scrutiny and may be subject to carbon levies as well as more direct or indirect restrictions on lifestyle choices. Consumer attitudes to wealthy “super polluters” will likely darken, requiring careful management to avoid unwanted attention and vilification. We also hear that next generation family office clients are developing a strong desire to act sustainably and are more likely to select practitioners aligned to their values.
Now is the time for the industry to develop innovative new strategies to prosper in a green economy while also fully playing its part in addressing climate change and the broader ESG agenda.
Aside from the well-known incentives around lowering carbon emissions, ignoring the problem risks embedding higher costs into future operations as mandatory disclosure, carbon taxes, penalties, and emissions trading schemes come into place. As the corporate sector giants have committed to net zero by 2030, it is likely that similar standards will be applied to their supply chain and customer bases. Much of the financial services sector now have direct regulatory obligations and standards to meet. It is not difficult to imagine banking, insurance, or other financial services being restricted or withdrawn from clients that are not actively reducing their environmental impact. Of course the significant financial and reputational risks which flow from non-compliance and being excluded from the wealth management sector are enormous, and will only escalate over time.
Roadmap of UK mandatory TCFD-aligned disclosures. Reproduced from https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/933783/FINAL_TCFD_ROADMAP.pdf
Carbon management is an opportunity develop new business opportunities in a number of ways that can generate new lines of business and revenue sources in trust and family office businesses. At ESIM we enjoy imagining some of these opportunities to incentivise action in your business, to futureproof it for the next 20 years. Below are just a few areas that deserve exploration:
Trustees and family office services and the beneficiaries of the services, as well as practitioners and host jurisdictions, have become used to external political and socialised threats. In a post-pandemic world where there are winners and losers, including failed and failing states, industry, clients, and host jurisdictions are set for an unprecedented and continual attack that will constitute an ongoing clear and present threat. In turn this will encourage those using these jurisdictions to either “re-think” or ensure that those they use can show clear commitment and adherence to these new standards.
The responsibility therefore falls on jurisdictions as well as individual companies to adapt in order to survive.
Verifiable environmental excellence in all aspects of operations and markets will protect jurisdictions that embed higher standards into a green supply chain, act sustainably, and have a demonstrable wider environmental positive outcome globally. Jurisdictions that virtue signal but fail to achieve substantive environmental commitments will be outed and made examples of by nations wanting to blame their crippling problems on the wealthy and their enablers.
Trustees and family offices are the guardians of wealth for the financially secure and privileged few, with a growing perception they are leaving the “problem” for others to deal with and in turn abdicating responsibility. Now is the time to act and show how wealth can be used responsibly and managed with purpose and integrity.
Forward-thinking trustees and family office practitioners can, as a first step ,work with ESI Monitor and its team of sustainability experts to develop its operational sustainability. In a changing world that’s increasingly green-minded, this is a prerequisite to developing new environmentally focused products and services which are crucial to business survival.
At ESI Monitor, we regularly support clients in finding the best ways they can reduce their footprint on the world around them. Clearly, this is the responsible thing to do – by reducing our carbon emissions, our waste or our resource consumption, we reduce our impact on the planet, its biodiversity and its people. But this approach also allows companies to measure and manage their exposure to these ESG (environmental, social and governance) factors, such as finding out how heavily they rely on scarce critical resources.
One critical resource is water, a precious substance vital for life and many parts of the economy. Only a small proportion of water on Earth is freely available. Most of the water on our planet is very salty seawater, leaving only 3% as freshwater – and of this, nearly 80% is bound up in ice in glaciers and the polar ice caps. Most of the rest is in groundwater, some of which is available to people through wells and boreholes, but not all. And only 1% is surface freshwater in rivers, lakes and soil.
This limited resource has to go around nearly eight billion humans, as well the millions of other species on the planet who need water as well. The direct human usage for drinking, washing and other household activities is around 150 litres per day in countries such as the UK, but consumers also rely on a significant amount of indirect water that is used while making the products they consume.
This indirect water demand can be significant. For example, producing each kilogram of beef requires the consumption of over 15,000 litres of water throughout the supply chain, both in watering cattle and producing their feed. In a similar way, the series of production steps means a kilo of cheese or nuts can require over 100,000 litres of water. This kind of embodied water impact brings the total water footprint of a UK consumer up to over 4,000 litres per day.
What is the effect of global water scarcity?
This is a significant issue because, globally, much of the world suffers from water scarcity. Today, two-thirds of the global population (4.0 billion people) live under conditions of severe water scarcity for at least 1 month of the year, while half a billion people face severe water scarcity all year round. These issues are particularly acute in certain countries, with 180 million people living under constant severe water scarcity in India, 73 million in Pakistan, and millions more across Africa, Central America and the Middle East.
Many contemporary business models are founded on the continuing availability of cheap water at production locations around the world. Yet the regions which currently provide countries such as the UK with food, textiles, minerals and other materials are under increasing water stress, with £1.8Bn of the UK’s crop-based annual food imports having a ‘high’ water risk. In fact, 70% of the UK’s overall water footprint is overseas, because of this concentration of imports from water-scarce areas.
How will climate change affect water?
When climate change is considered the situation is likely to become even more difficult in the future. Under possible scenarios explored by the CMIP5 project, the high latitudes and the Equator are forecast to become wetter and the mid-latitudes will become drier. Many areas that are already dry and water stressed – such as the Mediterranean, parts of the Middle East and Central Asia and the Americas – are forecast to be worst affected, with precipitations reductions of greater than 20% under the RCP 8.5 scenario.
Furthermore, climate change may also interrupt or exacerbate seasonal variability, disruption the seasonal monsoons that much of the world depends on. It could also increase the occurrence of extreme weather events such as droughts and storms.
What can be done to measure water risk?
The first step in managing water-related impacts and exposure is measuring the water footprint of a product or an organisation. A water footprint is the fresh water ‘used’ to produce a product, summed over the entirity of its production chain. Water use occurs whenever water is evaporated, embodied into a product, polluted, lost to another area or otherwise made unavailable for other local, timely usage. It includes both indirect components and direct components – in other words, water usage of upstream, supply-chain operations as well as usage that the organisation’s operation is directly responsible for.
The diagram below is reproduced from the Water Footprint Assessment Manual, 2011, and shows how direct and indirect water footprints are added up over the course of a product’s production until they reach the end consumer.
Footprints can also be calculated at the organisational level, by taking account of the products the organisation produces and the entirety of its direct and indirect usage.
Water and climate risk disclosure
Organisations increasingly disclose non-financial information, either because it is mandatory or because they simply know that it is a good thing to do. Increased disclosure and transparency is generally received positively by customers, investors or other parties, who want to know that organisations are conscious of their impact on the world as well as their vulnerability to climate change.
Without knowing how much water an organisation uses (both directly or indirectly), it is difficult to assess how exposed it would be to possible future changes such as:
While current disclosure frameworks such as TCFD (Taskforce for Climate-related Financial Disclosure) may seem to be a separate subject from water risk, the two topics are fundamentally linked. Water is actually mentioned 23 times in the TCFD recommendations report, including specifically as a source of climate change risk alongside energy, waste and land use and as a focus for target setting.
How can ESI Monitor help?
Water risk is a key component of any disclosure following TCFD principles, particularly for organisations that have operations, supply chains or investments in water-dependent sectors such as agriculture, energy and textiles. It can be a complex area to navigate, with potential for environmental, social and geo-political impacts to act together across a range of spatial and temporal scales.
ESI Monitor can assist organisations who wish to measure and reduce their water footprint, whether because of their risk exposure or desire to reduce impact. We can carry out a high-level screening exercise to identify areas of possible impact and exposure, provide a more comprehensive footprinting study including the wider supply chain, or support TCFD scenario analysis into the implications of climate change. Our consultants and associate consultants have extensive experience in supporting companies to assess and manage the environmental and social impacts and exposure of their operations, supply-chains and investments.
Mekonnen, M.M. and Hoekstra, A.Y., 2016. Four billion people facing severe water scarcity. Science advances, 2(2), p.e1500323.
Poore, J. and Nemecek, T., 2018. Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers. Science, 360(6392), pp.987-992.
Hoekstra, A.Y. and Mekonnen, M.M., 2016. Imported water risk: the case of the UK. Environmental Research Letters, 11(5), p.055002.
Hoekstra, A. Y.; Chapagain, A. K.; Aldaya, M. M.; Mekonnen, M. M. The Water Footprint Assessment Manual; 2011; ISBN 9781849712798
We are delighted to announce that Deloitte’s Guernsey office has achieved ESI Monitor’s Community Champion Award!
In achieving the Community Champion award, Deloitte’s Guernsey office has demonstrated a great commitment to helping their local community, with regards to financial donations, time contributions, and in-kind donations.
At ESI Monitor, we are strong believers that when businesses are involved in the community, everybody benefits, and would like to thank Deloitte for embodying this principle.