Apple’s Environmental Progress Report is full of sustainable development innovation information, acting as a great example for companies wanting to up their eco game.
The company keeps the carbon emissions numbers and tables to the appendices, where there’s tons of methodology information so that others can scrutinize their numbers and replicate their processes.
The subject of emissions comes through in various sections, but always as part of a wider story, such as their in-house net zero achievements, and how they plan to entirely remove fossil fuels from their supply chain.
Emissions figures are presented in a way which is easily understood by those with little climate knowledge. This approach demonstrates that Apple wants to be engaging and widely useable for employees, customers, and other stakeholders.
Microsofts Environmental Sustainability Report features a stand-out summary page highlighting achievements across the four broad aspects of sustainability. It’s a simple visual tool, that immediately draws the eye and conveys their broad approach and achievements.
There are further summary sections on pages 11 and 12 to clarify what each of these four aspects is, what Microsoft has achieved in each one, and the company’s goals going forward.
Carbon emissions here are mainly covered visually, with a couple of charts that demonstrate how they plan to reach ‘negative-carbon’, a term they use to stand out from all the talk of net-zero.
They include really detailed, but readable sections about how they will implement negative carbon, with lots of images of trees and jungle to reassure consumers of their positive environmental steps.
Valeros ESG report is full of bright and varied images, charts, and a map to show their operations and geographical impact. They discuss how their innovations are changing their sector, which is a powerful message. They give their perspective on a wide range of environmental topics of the day, and their contribution of course.
It’s a very detailed, wide-reaching document, but also very engaging in the body of the text, with further data methodology towards the back.
Another interesting and educational read, that could be widely utilized by teachers in schools to highlight environmental issues, by students reading environmental sciences, and anyone who could do with a little inspiration as to what they can do to make the world a better place.
Boeing has a very detailed reporting section at the back which is particularly well suited to researchers and the like, who really want to access a more detailed breakdown regarding themes like energy use or groundwater withdrawal. They include excellent detail on their GHG emissions and other environmental data.
At the front end, the document is very text heavy but contains a lot of detail, and there is a lot to learn. It’s a packed document with a wealth of information and presented in an attractive way with images representing their technological innovation and other sustainability themes too.
This is quite distinct from the other reports we’ve shown you. It’s quite visually plain. It has a lot of written information, and because of their unique brand position there are predictably various angles and interesting points that you won’t find in other reports.
But one detail stood out—an analysis of emissions hotspots relating to their supply chain. This is particularly pertinent because Tesla is so reliant on lithium batteries, and the therefore the minerals that go into them.
Why do companies report carbon emissions?
Companies report carbon emissions to comply with regulations and reassure consumers and stakeholders of their sustainability credentials.
From consumers to small businesses, everybody wants big corporations to operate responsibly, make the world safer and more resilient, and use renewable energy.
Every country is experiencing an increasing frequency of extreme weather events, meaning people want to purchase goods and services knowing they can make a difference.
Even the most hard-nosed companies recognize the business case for sustainability, and organizations like CDP now make it ever easier for investors to see accurate information about companies emissions.
There are many ways to measure environmental impact, but one of the most empirical, standardized, and well-documented is greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
In recent decades, scientific reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have consistently highlighted the evermore pressing need for urgent emissions reduction, particularly relating to carbon dioxide and methane.
In addition, the Paris Agreement of 2016 pushed all governments to take more urgent action to reduce the impacts of climate change.
Do I need to report greenhouse gas emissions?
Whether or not you need to report greenhouse gas emissions depends on your location and the emission threshold you reach.
Since around 2009, Governments in Europe, America, and elsewhere have made GHG emissions reporting mandatory for corporations and public sector organizations. The companies on the Fortune 500 list account for a large percentage of the world’s GHG emissions, but even small companies can make a difference.
Implementing GHG reporting in our organizations, whatever their scale, helps us shine a light on our activities and impact, helps us assess where we can improve, and inspires others throughout the value chain to engage proactively with the great challenge of our time.
In more than 40 countries, companies and facilities over certain emission thresholds must provide emissions reporting. The data gathered through this mandatory reporting informs government emissions targets, tracking and policy, industry-level analysis about carbon intensity, and the development of emissions-trading schemes.
The greenhouse gas protocol is the backbone of your emissions reporting.
92% of Fortune 500 companies use the GHG Protocol methodology to measure and report their emissions. It is the predominant global standard used by companies, governments, and non-governmental organizations.
This methodology was launched in 1998 by the World Resouces Institute (WRI) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).
How does your location affect your reporting?
Your location affects whether or not you are legally obliged to produce emissions reports.
The good news is that the GHG protocol is used worldwide, so you can implement it, make wise decisions based on the data, and commission a glossy report to celebrate your progress and determination to make the world a better place.
For example, any facility or company emitting more than 25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide in the United States must submit emissions reports to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) annually, including power plants but any other business too.
California is a leader in environmental legislation and requires that any company emitting more than 10,000 metric tonnes report annual emissions to the California Air Resouces Board under the 2006 California Global Warming Solutions Act, in addition to their EPA reporting obligations.
In the European Union, the Non-Financial Reporting Directive requires public interest companies with more than 500 employees to report on social and environmental impact.
European companies may engage in the GHG protoco, but they must also use a broader reporting standard to comply with European legislation, such as ISO 26000, UN Global Compact, or OECD guidelines for international enterprises.
The United Kingdom has different reporting requirements so that incorporated companies must report emissions, with a threshold of 500 employees requiring a greater depth of reporting.
When developing your emissions data and reporting strategy, it’s essential to understand the particular reporting requirements of any country that you operate in.
No matter where you are, the GHG protocol is the most recognized measuring and reporting tool, the results of which can be released as a specific GHG report or incorporated into broader strategy and reporting.
How do I implement emissions reporting?
You can implement emissions reporting using staff, skills, and software. You will need to hire a carbon emissions consultant, train the existing team, or hire specialists to work in-house on Environmental, Social, and Governance, including reporting.
The consultant’s first task will be to assess what legislation you need to comply with and which software will be practicable and produce the outputs that you need.
There is a wealth of software available for emissions measuring and reporting. However, to have a more significant impact, work with organizations in your supply chain to improve your data sets and support them in their engagement.
The key takeaway
It’s easy to make a colourful, engaging, educational ESG report, which includes your emissions and other reporting requirements.
There are plenty of freelance designers who will easily combine relevant stock images in an attractive format with a copywriter producing engaging informative industry-specific text based on your basic structure and figures.
Use a rich mixture of engaging prose, charts, visuals in the main body of the report, keeping any dense numbers and methodology easily referenceable at the back for those who want to go deeper.
The more interesting it is to your stakeholders, the more they will engage with your business, learn from you, interact, and cooperate with you.
Many companies simply add a climate-related section to their annual report, but this is an opportunity to present your bold vision, and to make your stakeholders go the extra mile for you. This is your opportunity to present your best version of your business to future generations, and to be a leader and an authority in your industry.