What is climate change?

Climate change is the greatest environmental challenge facing the world today. Rising global temperatures are bringing changes in weather patterns, rising sea levels and increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather. The effects are being felt in the UK. Internationally there are severe problems for people in regions that are particularly vulnerable. Climate change is caused by the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

 What are greenhouse gas emissions? The key greenhouse gas emissions are carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride. Each gas has a different capacity to cause global warming. Carbon dioxide is expected to be responsible for about two thirds of the anticipated future warming.

 What causes greenhouse gas emissions? Human activities release greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere – using electricity generated from fossil fuel power stations, burning gas for heating or driving a car. Within the UK it is estimated that business activities account for about half of all emissions.

Why are Westbound measuring our business’s greenhouse gas emissions?

Cost Savings

We see carbon footprint calculations as a sensible form of risk management for any future legislation changes, supply chain disruption and increases in the price of carbon. Even with the price of carbon changing, calculating our carbon footprint and reducing it can lead to cost savings for our business which we can pass onto our clients so that everybody benefits.

To do our bit – Most importantly we understand the contribution our business is making to climate change and want to do our bit to help reduce it.

To Generate new business opportunities

If we reduce our incoming costs we can apply those savings to other areas of our business and become more agile to increase our competitiveness in the market and offer greater service value to our customers.

By monitoring and applying good practice in our own carbon use it will help us meet the information needs of our customers in the future, calculating our carbon footprint helps us to fulfil customer requests for information on our greenhouse gas emissions. This is becoming an increasingly important element of the procurement process. We also considered ways our carbon reduction journey could benefit our clients need for information as well, our business processes facilitate the smooth transit of goods around the globe but we are not directly shipping these goods ourselves, we therefore looked into ways we could provide a way for our clients to calculate the carbon footprint of their own business transactions from the perspective of shipping. That’s why we’ve included a simple carbon calculator on this page where our customers can input shipment details to calculate potential shipment impact and explore ways they can offset their own carbon footprint to support greener activities in their own business’s. 

To Do our Bit 

Most importantly we recognise and understand the contribution our business is making to climate change and wanted to do our bit to help reduce it.

How do Westbound measure our business’s greenhouse gas emissions?

Our first task was to identify which area’s of Westbound’s business needed to be included to measure potential greenhouse gas emissions. To do this we categorised the different parts of our business and identified the areas we either own or have control over. This means that we are only measuring emissions which relate to our direct business operations.  To do this, we needed to set boundaries which ring fenced our business operations and help us identify which greenhouse gases we need to measure.

Once these aspects of our business were identified we then set out our plan to measure areas which may contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, we ascertained the emissions from these parts of our business and measured based on physical locations.

The main activities from our business which release greenhouse gases
  • Electricity/gas use
  • Waste disposal/recycling
  • Business travel
  • Owned or controlled vehicles
  • Employee business travel
  • Staff commuting 

Identifying and recording areas where our business could potentially be directly impacting the climate crisis proved to be the easy part, calculating our actual carbon footprint based on the data we collated proved to be more challenging, we discovered that carbon footprint calculating can be considered carbon accounting and similar to creating a balance sheet and similar to accounting practice there are rules which we can follow. In this case the rules are set by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. The Greenhouse Gas Protocol splits greenhouse gas emissions into three categories: Scope 1, Scope 2, and Scope 3.

Scope 1

Scope 1 are direct emissions caused by any process or activity by the company that causes greenhouse gas emission. Often this is in the form of fuels burnt on-site or by company-owned vehicles. Other forms are leaks of refrigerant gases (for example from refrigerators or air conditioning) or any emissions from industrial processes (for example from making cement). 

Scope 2

Scope 2 are indirect emissions caused by a company purchasing energy (from sources you do not own or control). This is usually in the form of electricity, heat, or steam.  

Scope 3

Scope 3 emissions are all the indirect emissions that occur because of business activity and are the most challenging to record and calculate,

  • waste (decomposing waste emits greenhouse gases) 
  • emissions related to any goods or services purchased (for example any fuel emitted transporting them) 
  • employees commuting to and from work 

Calculating scope 3 emissions is much more difficult and for this reason is deemed optional by the greenhouse gas protocol. We therefore consider this to be a work in progress with the intention of offsetting certain elements where we can, for example by actively promoting car sharing for employee commuting. In all cases we are committed to identifying as many areas as possible where the business can reduce our carbon footprint. 

How we collected data 

To calculate the greenhouse gas emissions for our business, we collected data from each relevant emission-releasing activity.

The quality of data we collected was important to ensure that our measurement of our emissions is as accurate as possible. We recorded our data usage into a spreadsheet. This method provides us with a useful means of recording the data as it can be easily updated and can facilitate internal quality checks.

It is normal practice to measure greenhouse gas emissions over a 12-month period it therefore made sense to align the data collection in line with our accounting period.

 For our initial year of reporting, we focused on gathering data from electricity use (electricity bills), gas use (gas bills), water use (water bills) etc

Carbon Footprint Calculator – Westbound Clients Can Use This Tool To Measure The Footprint Of Their Shipments

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