This guest blog is written by Theo Bishop, a Graduate Management Trainee on the NGDP programme at Newport City Council.
Understanding the context
The need for public sector organisations to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030 grows more urgent with each passing day. The UK, along with many other countries, have committed to the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. To meet this target, drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are necessary across all sectors.
Public sector organisations have a responsibility to lead by example. We play a vital role in demonstrating environmental stewardship and driving societal change. By striving for carbon neutrality, we aim to inspire and motivate organisations to take similar action. Collective efforts are essential to tackle climate change effectively.
At Newport City Council, we have undertaken a significant project focused on decarbonising our supply chain. This poses a considerable, yet exciting challenge due to our extensive collaboration with up to 3,000 businesses each year for procuring goods and services.
Our supply chain comprises a diverse range of organisations, encompassing both multinational corporations with substantial annual turnovers and small, family-owned, local businesses operating within our region.
Opportunities to engage and provide tailored support
Initially, I started to identify which organisations were in our top 50% of spend. This approach allowed us to pinpoint where a significant portion of our financial resources were allocated. I began to speak directly with these suppliers through phone calls, emails, and face to face meetings, asking them if they had Carbon Reduction Plans and requesting them to share their Scope 1, 2, and 3 data (if they had any!).
Since most of these suppliers were large corporations, this task was relatively straightforward. Fortunately, many of these organisations happy to help.
However, challenges surfaced when we extended our outreach to organisations further down the supply chain.
As many of these suppliers were SMEs (Small and Medium-sized Enterprises), they didn’t have experience of reporting on their carbon emissions and were uncertain about the expectations.
We saw this as an important opportunity to educate and to offer help. We took the initiative to create a user-friendly and adaptable emissions reporting toolkit.
This tool was specifically designed to simplify the reporting process and accommodate the diverse needs of our supply chain. I began to roll out the spreadsheet across our supply chain network. It is continuously being refined based on the valuable feedback we receive, ensuring it remains up-to-date and relevant.
Empowering organisations – Enhancing supplier engagement
Our toolkit serves as an alternative to conventional reporting spreadsheets and has been designed to cater to the unique requirements of each organisation. It encompasses different sections, with the initial focus on general information.
This section presents a series of pertinent questions, including the type of organisation, turnover figure, if the organisation can provide data specific to contracts with us (to avoid duplication), and, most notably, whether the organisation already reports on its emissions. If the supplier answers ‘yes’, a straightforward request is made to input their Scope 1, 2, and 3 data.
However, for those who do not currently report, we extend our assistance by providing a comprehensive list of valuable resources and links to training sessions to enhance their understanding.
Importantly, a separate section is dedicated to capturing their consumption data, encompassing gas usage, electricity usage, heating oil usage, LPG use, and fuel usage (measured in either monetary expenditure or volume). Suppliers have the flexibility to input annual figures or opt for monthly reporting, ensuring convenience for them.
This section has proven indispensable, as many SMEs have found it very easy to provide this data, facilitating their active participation in the decarbonisation process. In this section, we have imbedded the relevant emission factors that automatically calculate the total emissions for each supplier. This advanced system provides the most up-to-date information and presents suppliers with their final emission figure for the specific year.
Charting the Path Ahead
Our commitment to enhancing the toolkit remains unwavering as we continue to actively collaborate with Welsh Government and additional Local Authorities nationwide, both near and far.
As we continue to grow, we are deeply committed to fostering strong partnerships with local businesses. Our primary goal is to not only provide support to these businesses ourselves but also guide them towards additional resources, such as support programs and future grants.
We aim to help them gain knowledge and access opportunities that will facilitate their transition to more sustainable and low-carbon operations.
This external engagement process has been instrumental in our development, enabling us to acquire valuable insights, inspire others, and be inspired in return.
We stand at the cusp of a transformative era in our country, steadfastly advancing with the vision that future iterations of this toolkit will extend beyond our locality and could potentially encompass the entirety of Gwent, potentially expanding further to incorporate all of Wales, and even beyond.
If you would like to know more about the tool, please contact the Climate Change Team within Newport City Council