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Our carbon footprint

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There is strong consensus within the scientific community that climate change is occurring and is caused by human activity. The British Red Cross is reducing carbon emissions through our environmental and carbon reduction policy.

We need to balance environmental commitments with our work to help people in the UK and overseas, as well as our financial constraints.

However, we want our environmental commitments to become part of our day to day activities. We aim to be environmentally responsible, reducing waste and our carbon emissions from heat, power and travel.

Calculating our carbon

Several years ago we calculated that the sources of our carbon emissions were:

  • energy use in properties (i.e. gas and electricity) – 58 percent
  • vehicle use – 31 per cent
  • air and rail travel – 8 per cent
  • other (printing, paper, etc.) – 3 per cent.

Tackling emissions

We appointed carbon champions across the organisation and we started by tackling the emissions from properties. We have also created an environmental and carbon reduction policy.

This policy aims to control our impact on the environment. We will continue to:

  • reduce our carbon emissions and waste, reusing and recycling wherever possible
  • assess the adverse effects our operations and partnerships may have on the environment and try to minimise them
  • introduce selection criteria for suppliers based on a minimum environmental standard
  • promote environmental awareness to everyone at the Red Cross including new staff and volunteers
  • monitor, report and reduce carbon emissions specifically from heat, power and travel.

Management and everyone in a supervisory role have the responsibility for implementing the policy. They should ensure that environmental issues are always considered.

How are we achieving these objectives?

We are:

  • selecting the most appropriate form of travel, taking into account carbon emissions and other business factors. We only travel when necessary
  • ensuring that our buildings are used effectively and reducing emissions by controlling heat and power
  • reducing waste on packaging for bought-in goods
  • recycling all appropriate waste such as paper, card, metals and plastics
  • ensuring that new staff and volunteers are informed about this policy and obliged to adhere to it
  • challenging people who don’t act in the spirit of this policy
  • implementing a reporting mechanism to inform senior management about environmental issues and achievements
  • expanding new technologies to allow for changes in behaviour particularly around travel, e.g. greater use of video conferencing
  • creating minimum environmental standards for current and future suppliers
  • providing quarterly reports for each business unit showing carbon emissions generated from electricity, gas and travel
  • introducing environmental impact assessments (EIA) for mainly international operations or projects where a potential risk to the environment has been identified. We’ll present these in our annual report and other media outlets.

Achievements so far

Since the start of the programme we have reduced our emissions from properties by 29 per cent (that's 2,485 tonnes between 2009 and 2014).  This has been achieved through simple measures and by installing solar panels on seven of our buildings. We have also transferred 156 of our properties onto a green energy contract

We have expanded our video conference facilities and made deliberate cuts to our travel budgets to reduce travel.

We were awarded the Carbon Trust Award during 2013 in recognition of our work and in 2015 we attained ISO 14001 standard certification for our environmental management systems.

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