As a B Corp, we’re committed to understanding all the emissions our business creates. As a private company, we’re not required to report on all of them but we’re big believers that you can’t reduce what you don't measure, so we’re doing it anyway. And we’d like to see more companies do the same.
Measuring our carbon footprint
To be carbon neutral, we first need to measure how many emissions our business creates in all the countries we operate in. We do this by following the ‘Greenhouse Gas Protocol’ - the global framework for measuring emissions - and categorising our emissions into three ‘scopes’:
Scope 1: direct emissions. For many companies this includes fuel burned in company-owned vehicles. We don’t have any vehicles, so for us these are emissions created from air conditioning in the buildings we work in.
Scope 2: indirect energy emissions from powering and heating company buildings. There are two different ways to measure emissions from using electricity in company buildings. One looks at the carbon intensity of the local grid, and multiplies that by electricity use. This is known as ‘location-based’. The other looks at the fuel mix of the energy supplier you’ve chosen for your company buildings, and multiplies that by electricity use. This is known as ‘market-based.’ At Bulb, we measure both.
Scope 3: all other indirect emissions resulting from business activities we don’t own or control. It’s essentially everything else big and small. From the energy we buy for our members and our internet server usage, down to how our team gets into work and the snacks and coffee in our office.
This is what our global emissions looked like in 2019:
We’re a carbon neutral company
Scope 3 - our ‘indirect’ emissions - are where we have the biggest carbon impact. This is mostly caused by the non-green gas we supply our members in the UK. The carbon impact of our 100% renewable electricity is zero emissions.
We’re big fans of green gas - in 2019, we bought more than any other supplier. But today, there’s only enough green gas to meet 1% of the UK’s gas demand. There simply isn’t enough to supply our 1.7 million members. And there’s no other technology to take CO2 out of heating today that exists at that scale. Offsetting our emissions means we’re keeping our carbon impact to the absolute minimum it’s possible to achieve today.
Being carbon neutral means we offset all the CO2 we emit by funding carbon reduction projects around the world. We’re protecting the Gola rainforest in Sierra Leone, providing clean cookstoves in Ghana and Kenya, and supporting wind and solar energy in India. Every carbon offset is verified by the Gold Standard, the Verified Carbon Standard, or the UNFCCC's Clean Development Mechanism. And they’ve been additionally vetted by our partners and fellow B Corp, ClimateCare.
We’re committed to reducing our carbon footprint
Offsetting is just one of the many ways we’re reducing emissions. We’re reducing our carbon impact through products, services and charitable giving, too. Some examples of that this year are:
Setting up the Bulb Foundation to support projects fighting the climate crisis. Every time a member switches to Bulb, £2 is donated. The Foundation has made grants to organisations doing incredible work to tackle the climate crisis and its effects.
Launching our carbon calculator - a tool where people can work out their carbon footprint, and offset it by supporting carbon reduction projects around the world.
Installing energy efficiency measures in our members’ homes through the Government’s Energy Companies Obligation. So far, we’ve helped our members save around £65 million on their energy bills and 175,000 tonnes of CO2.
Paying our members for generating renewable electricity in their homes through the Smart Export Guarantee. Collectively, these members generated 6,049 MWh of renewable electricity, saving 1,549 tonnes of CO2. It would take 774,177 trees to absorb that.
We’ll continue to look for opportunities to build products and services to cut our, and our members’, carbon emissions.
There’s more we can do by working with Government
We know we’ve got an important role to play in changing how heat is supplied in the UK. But we can’t do it alone. We’re calling on Government to prioritise policies that encourage the electrification of heat, as gas becomes an increasingly small part of heating between now and 2050. We think Government should:
Tax carbon emissions from heating. This could be by expanding the future UK Emissions Trading Scheme and carbon floor price, or a wider carbon tax, to include natural gas for heating. This will make zero carbon heating solutions cost competitive with fossil fuels.
Take policy costs off electricity bills. Support for renewables should be moved to general taxation, or on to the gas bill to more accurately reflect environmental impact. This would make electricity cheaper compared to gas, so more people could afford electric heating solutions, like heat pumps.
We’re doing what we can to reduce our carbon impact. Next year we’ll report our 2020 emissions from the UK and around the world. And we’ll share more about how we’re reducing our emissions globally ahead of COP26 - the most important climate summit since the landmark Paris Agreement in 2015. It will be a crucial year for climate action. And we look forward to updating our members on our net zero journey on the blog.