The simple way to calculate your carbon emissions

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How Net Zero Now helps accountancy practices to take action on climate change.

Many of us are keen to do what we can to prevent climate crisis, starting with our workplaces. But without knowing our actual impact, attempts to offset carbon emissions are only estimates. The Net Zero Now project provides the opportunity to make a real difference in your business, and share findings with clients.

AAT spoke to David Rothera, Climate Project Manager, Net Zero Now about how it works.

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What type of data will the participants be collecting at the outset of the programme?

When calculating a practice’s carbon footprint we turn a company’s activities into an equivalent amount of CO2. This covers a large range of activities, from their gas and electricity usage, purchased office goods (such as computers, monitors, desks, chairs, paper, etc.) through to staff commuting, business travel and even home working.

The data practices provide is specific to a 12-month period. We try and keep it as simple as possible, looking at the total kWh of electricity purchased over those 12 months, how many computers they bought, how many days staff worked from home in total and so on. Our platform asks for these numbers and we convert it for our users, so they can see the environmental impact of various activities in real-time. 

What are the biggest obstacles to effective data collection?

For the most part, the data is easy to obtain and can often be pulled straight from a practice’s accounts or asset registers. The only data that can be a bit more challenging to obtain is information on staff commuting, business travel and home working as this requires engagement from everyone. However, we have seen great success gathering staff working data when companies use this as an opportunity to allow staff input on what sustainability policies they would like to see the practice implement. By giving all staff a voice on subjects like sustainability you can also receive better buy-in when new policies are implemented. 

What types of data will businesses be surprised to find they should measure?

Quite often businesses are surprised at the detailed level of information required for an accurate footprint. For example, we will even ask how much they spend on office snacks, milk and coffee. Some practices don’t expect home working to be included as they see it as outside of their sphere of influence. However, they quickly see why it’s included as energy is being consumed to be able to work for the practice from home. It’s essential that carbon footprints are as accurate as possible. 

What’s the process like? Is it a big admin burden? 

The process will vary depending on the size of the practice. We have had some practices complete their calculations and certify within a week. Some of our multi-office clients will collect and add their data over a few months, when it suits them.

Navigating the platform is straightforward and it has been designed to use data that can be found easily. The feedback we’ve had is that it’s not a cumbersome process, isn’t that time-consuming and our clients feel reassured that their carbon footprint is being calculated to a standard backed by the accountancy industry, the Net Zero Accountancy Protocol.

AAT has been working with Net Zero Now, an online analysis and certification provider that works with accounting firms to understand, measure and reduce their carbon footprint. In developing a programme of protocols for accountants, the AAT worked with Net Zero Now alongside a number of other industry bodies to ensure the right impacts were measured, with corresponding mitigation measures calibrated to match.

AAT Comment offers news and opinion on the world of business and finance from the Association of Accounting Technicians.

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