Tech Nation’s next step towards net zero

Tech Nation, June 16, 2021 3 min read

As a founding member of the Tech Zero taskforce, we are leading the decarbonisation of UK tech. 

Tech Zero companies have committed to a three-step strategy: measuring and publishing their own carbon impact annually, committing to carbon management targets, and designing a carbon neutralisation plan.

We’re encouraging organisations across the UK tech sector to take the Tech Zero pledge, and we’ve already taken the first step in our own commitment.

Tech Nation has recently undergone a full-scale carbon footprint assessment, covering all operations across energy, buildings, business travel, home working emissions and purchased goods and services. It is the beginning of an exciting journey in showing real climate leadership and an integral part of our commitment to become a net zero organisation by 2030. 

The independent report by sustainability consultancy, Avieco, revealed that 98% of our emissions in 2019 were classed as ‘indirect value-chain emissions’, referred to as ‘scope 3’, increasing to 100% in 2020 as the Covid-19 pandemic brought travel and in-person office work to a sudden halt.

The findings highlight the challenge faced by many SMEs; managing the indirect impact generated through services and assets beyond our own control.

Tech Nation CEO Gerard Grech comments: “Reaching net zero is essential for the UK’s ongoing inclusive and competitive economic growth trajectory, and will be a critical factor in any scaleup’s journey moving forward. Crucially, the journey to net zero also involves scaleups being transparent, and striving to do everything in their power to make a tangible difference. 

“First and foremost, reaching net zero requires collaboration. To reach the UK’s goal of becoming net zero by 2050, countries, organisations, policymakers and businesses must come together to support one another, set actionable targets and become accountable for creating lasting change. We are proud to be facilitating and accelerating this change, within our own company and beyond.”

Our environmental impact

In 2019 Tech Nation’s emissions were equivalent to 340 cars on the road, and in 2020 this increased slightly to the equivalent of 480 cars on the road. A small yearly increase is “entirely expected” the first time a company measures and compares emissions between years according to Avieco consultant Daniel Murray. 

He explains that as a growing organisation with an increasing spend on goods and services, Tech Nation will inevitably generate more scope 3 emissions as a consequence of its growth until suppliers’ carbon footprint is a built-in part of the procurement process.

The carbon impact of purchased goods and services at Tech Nation includes consultant services, event venues and catering, advertising and communications, and IT software. At the moment, understanding the carbon impact of our supply chain is limited by generic data at an industry level, rather than the emissions profile of specific suppliers and service providers we engage; value chain emissions are calculated by multiplying our spend in these areas with the industry averages for emissions. 

To understand where improvements can be made, it’s crucial to benchmark our carbon footprint against others with a similar operational profile. 

Unfortunately, the data to really compare with relevant others is not easily available. Business sustainability ratings company EcoVadis highlighted the problem in an article last year, writing:

“One of the largest hurdles for companies… is the lack of a universal carbon benchmarking standard. Without a universal standard, companies comparing themselves across industries, sectors, and geographic regions will be comparing ‘apples to oranges’ instead of ‘apples to apples’.”

In order to make environmental decisions about our supply chain, we also need access to supplier emissions data – whether this is shared privately by the suppliers or put into the public domain.

Daniel Murray notes that Microsoft has begun working on supply chain emissions as part of its ‘net zero by 2030’ commitment. 

“Microsoft are asking suppliers to measure emissions in line with GHG protocol and commit to reducing emissions by 55% by 2030, to ensure they have better supplier data and that those suppliers align with their own targets,” he explained. 

“They’re obviously way bigger than Tech Nation – but this is to tackle essentially the same problem, which is that most of their emissions are from their supply chain.”

Tech Zero initiatives 

This is the first time that Tech Nation has calculated and reported on GHG emissions. Our mission now is to decouple business growth from emissions growth.

We will achieve that primarily through supplier engagement – we’ll work closely with suppliers to improve data quality (aligning reporting where possible), reducing the reliance on procurement spend and by identifying more sustainable alternatives, where feasible, for the goods and services that we currently procure.

Our commitment to net zero is only a part of the work we are undertaking across sustainability. 

Our Net Zero growth programme actively supports high-growth climate tech scaleups, by giving them the access they need to investors, insights, education and practical support.

Over the course of our inaugural programme, the investment received by the Net Zero 1.0 cohort has increased from £87.8 million to £131.2 million, while the average headcount has increased by 50%.

Click here to download the full Tech Nation sustainability report

News & Topics, Net Zero 1.0, Tech Zero