Many large firms not ready for Scope 3 reporting

Large companies are struggling to measure vital carbon emissions data from their staff’s commutes and business travel, according to a Norwich sustainable tech company. 

Employee commute emissions data must be collected and reported on as part of Scope 3 reporting as detailed in the Greenhouse Gas Protocol’s Corporate Value Chain (Scope 3) Standard.

Yet nearly half – 43 per cent – of transport and fleet managers with large UK organisations struggle to find a method of measuring Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions associated with workers’ commutes to and from their places of work.

The findings are revealed in a comprehensive study   by commuter emissions specialist Mobilityways,   based in Norwich.

Reporting on the emissions of workers driving corporate fleet or personal/grey fleet vehicles, as part of so-called ‘indirect’ Scope 3 emissions reporting, has already been mandated for businesses tendering for large UK public sector contracts.

Some organisations have set aggressive targets for commuter emissions reduction as part of their Net Zero plans. For example, the NHS, Britain’s largest employer, has committed to halving its emissions from staff commuting within the next 10 years (by 2033). The NHS is working intensively today to promote modal shifts in its employees’ commuting habits by rolling out cycle to work schemes, offering car-sharing rewards, salary sacrifice tax benefits for public transport passes, and subsidising public transport costs for staff.

They are even providing free EV shuttle bus services and re-designing hospital car parks to favour electric vehicles and car-sharing commuters. There is a long way to go however as a recent NHS staff commuter report found that 70 per cent of NHS staff still commute to work in single occupancy vehicles, and most of these are not Electric Vehicles (EVs).

The ‘Road to Net Zero Study’ also uncovered that only 44 per cent of transport heads of the UK’s largest firms have access to consistently accurate, complete and transparent emissions data covering all types of commutes. Even less, 42 per cent, have accurate emissions reporting capability for wider business travel-related carbon emissions.

More positively, over half (54 per cent) of transport chiefs said their employers have already mandated absolute targets for employee commutes expressed as a reduction in GHG emissions in metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e), and over two-thirds (69 per cent) of transport chiefs confirmed that they had already started reducing emissions linked to employee commutes.

Julie Furnell, Managing Director of Mobilityways, explains, “To hit their Net Zero targets, large firms need to stimulate significant reductions in single occupancy car commuting in Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles.

“Stimulating employees to explore car-sharing, active travel and public transport options is now critical to enable employers to hit their, often highly publicised, Net Zero goals. Advancing this modal shift is a massive job for transport chiefs in large organisations.”

When asked how employee commute reductions     were being found, 55 per cent of transport heads responded that new employment contracts had been issued reducing the number of days that staff      needed to work per week.

Nearly half (52 per cent) had worked on reducing average commuting distances, either by relocating offices to an area closer to a greater number of employees’ homes, or closer to public transport links. While nearly half, 47 per cent, had stimulated EV usage by installing EV charging stations in company car parks.

Nearly half (49 per cent) had brought in expert data and service providers to help gather GHG emissions data from employee commuting – using this data to stimulate staff commuting habit changes.

Employee commute emissions data collection and reporting is required as part of Scope 3 emissions reporting under the upcoming EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) and the linked European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS) affecting UK businesses with substantial subsidiaries based inside the EU or with listings on EU stock exchanges.

Central government bodies have already had to sign up to the existing Government Fleet Commitment for 25 per cent of the Government car fleet to be Ultra Low Emission Vehicles (ULEVs), while 100 per cent of the Government car and van fleet will need to be fully zero emission at the tailpipe by 31st December 2027.

Julie adds, “Employee commute data collection is being carried out by only about half of the large UK employers we reached for this study. It is part of a massive sustainability reporting workload included in Scope 3 reporting which most large businesses have now started.

“Understandably, given this increasing workload, the reporting burden associated with company vehicle emissions data collecting is often being delegated to heads of transport and fleet managers. We find ourselves talking to more and more of them each month as they look for proven solutions for collecting accurate data as well as settling on strategies for transitioning their fleets to EV and encouraging staff to use greener modes of travel to work.”

Mobilityways’ Road to Net Zero Study can be downloaded here.

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