What's our carbon footprint?
As a company, The Social Hub strives to minimise its impact on the environment. To do so, we feel it’s important to focus on our carbon footprint as it can directly affect climate change – both positive and negative. In this article, we’ll explain what carbon emissions and our carbon footprint are, and how we’re working on reducing our output.
EMISSIONS & OUR CARBON FOOTPRINT
We can’t seem to turn a page these days without stumbling on the topic of greenhouse gas or carbon emissions. But what are they exactly and why are they a problem?
Simply put, greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) are gases that capture heat and warm up the planet. Carbon emissions are one type of GHG emissions mostly linked to human activity such as burning fossil fuels to drive cars or make food, cutting down trees for agriculture or paper, and handling waste. The problem today, is that we’re producing more emissions than nature can handle. This has caused an imbalance in nature’s system, thereby creating issues such as global warming. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – The United Nations’ body providing scientific assessments and evidence on climate change – has calculated that we need to stabilize global warming at 1.5 °C to curb future climate-related risks and minimise long-lasting or irreversible impacts to our ecosystems.
It is therefore important to restore nature’s balance by actively capturing more emissions from the atmosphere (which is called ‘sequestering’) and drastically reducing one’s carbon output.
A carbon footprint then, is the total amount of emissions an individual, city, country or company produces by using and disposing of products and services. For The Social Hub, this means all the emissions we produce while building and operating our hotels.
THE MAKE-UP OF OUR CARBON FOOTPRINT
To calculate our carbon footprint, we differentiate between Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions. Scope 1 emissions are direct emissions coming from sources that we own or control ourselves, such as our teams’ lease cars. Scope 2 emissions are indirect emissions produced through the energy that we buy to run all our hotels. And scope 3 emissions are all indirect emissions stemming from the products and services that we use through third parties – flights, food, drinks, housekeeping, linen, materials to design our hotels etc.
For us, the biggest source of emissions is our purchased energy. Our biggest challenge however, lies with calculating the output of our products and services as we are dependent on our partners to supply us with the right information and data.
THE SOCIAL HUB FLIGHT POLICY
Lucky for us, while we don’t own the airplanes we travel with, we have enough insights into our employees’ flight behaviour to act. We know who flies, when and where to, and our flight management tool can show us the emissions output per flight.
We therefore decided to take up flight travel as our first carbon footprint project. In 2019, we developed a Flight Policy with the goal to reduce the number of flights and to compensate for the kilometres we do make by planting trees. We focus on making our business travel more efficient. Skip the short flights and take the train instead, think about how many colleagues need to join the trip and optimise your schedule so that you do more in a couple of days instead of having to fly back and forth for meetings.
Our goal is to reduce our emissions from flying by 40% by 2022, compared to a 2019 baseline: 20% in 2020, followed by 10% in 2021 and another 10% in 2022.
As you can probably imagine, covid-19 has had quite the impact on our business travel in the past year. With the world in lockdown, we were kept on the ground as well. This positively affected our ambitions, as we actually went over target and reduced our emissions by 33%. Despite these exceptional circumstances, we have decided not to correct the outcome for corona. This means that this year, we are still planning to reduce our emissions by 10% but that down the line we could end up reducing more than the 40% we had anticipated.
OFFSETTING OUR EMISSIONS
As we strive to minimise our negative impact on the environment, we don’t just want to focus on reducing our emissions but also on compensating for that which we produce. That is why we have partnered with WeForest, an organisation focusing on reforestation projects to restore biodiversity. Generally speaking, whenever you plant a tree to offset for your emissions for a certain year the tree will need about 30 years to sequester the carbon from the air. We felt that a 30-year timeline would be too long and have therefore decided to double the number of trees we plant per year to ensure we offset our emissions in 15 years. For more information about our partnership to date, check out our partner page.
GETTING THE FULL PICTURE
The coming year, our next step will be to calculate our full total carbon footprint, not just from flying. Then, we will of course want to reduce that footprint to become a futureproof company and do our part to curb climate change.
We will do so by partnering with the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi), a collective of UN agencies that encourages companies to actively contribute to the 1.5 °C pathway.
By setting Science Based Targets (SBTs), a company commits to a carbon emissions reduction plan in line with the Paris Climate Agreement of 2015 and the aforementioned research by the IPCC. You choose an emissions baseline year, select a deadline to realise your ambition and the SBTi calculates how much you should reduce per year to stay in line with the 1.5 °C pathway.
Our objective is to have set and verified our SBTs by summer 2021.
Now that we know what emissions are and what elements our carbon footprint consist of, we can get started. That mostly means doing a lot of research and calculations, of which we’ll keep you updated of course.
It also means that we need to have some good conversations with our partners, as we will need a lot of data from them about all the products and services they provide us. In our next blog, we will highlight some of these partners and share more about how they’re working on a more sustainable world.