Environmental Policy (2021)

Carbon neutral for a decade

Since the turn of the century, we have been acutely aware of the impact our business operations have on the planet’s resources and carbon output. We had dabbled in small carbon-offset schemes and trimmed our business footprint for a decade before making the jump to being a carbon neutral business in 2011.

Less than a decade later we moved to be carbon negative, that is to remove more carbon from the atmosphere than we are responsible for producing. Our initiatives are broadly broken into three categories:

  • Low carbon focus: Exhale less carbon by mandating carbon-efficient travel, technology, suppliers, energy, investment, and waste
  • Reduced consumption: Just using less makes a big difference. Technology helps is to reduce business miles be moving activity online. Super-skinny office models reduces commuting, energy, and waste levels.
  • Extracting carbon from the atmosphere. For over a decade we have paid for commercial services to plant trees and from this year, we are investing in direct “capture from air” technologies such as Climeworks.

In all fairness, the COVID-19 did present us with a unique opportunity to “reset our business”, one that we eagerly grasped with both hands. Thats the summary over, now onto the detail.

Carbon Negative since 2020

At the end of 2019, the then current Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, talked about the very real risks of the climate crisis. He went on to say “Companies and industries that are not moving towards zero-carbon emissions will be punished by investors and go bankrupt.”

The escalating climate crisis is the defining issue of the 21st century, the very survival of the planet is in our hands. We all have our part to play; whether that is junking the diesel cars, embarking on a tree planting programme or just simply cutting your carbon footprint – now is the time to act. Now is the time to shout about it.

We think companies, big and small, have their part to play and that is why Connected has been on the road to carbon negative for over a decade. We have cut CO2 emissions by over 80%, 100% of energy used is renewable, business travel miles are 75%/25% public/private transport – the exact opposite of where it was at the turn of the century. Flexible working for all arrived in 2013, blanket low emissions transport in 2015, and we finally achieved carbon negative status at the end of 2019.

2021 sees the eleventh anniversary of our environmental policy and reaching carbon negative status in 2020 was a major milestone. But, we think we can do more, so much more that we are now planning to have offset our total carbon output since we founded in 1996. Going further, we want the Connected to play a leading role in driving positive environmental change policy. So, we’re committing to the following:

  • We will continue improving and reducing our environmental footprint above and beyond just carbon to include gross consumption, recycling, plastic use, air pollution, fair trade, tax equality, and ethical sourcing.
  • We commit to spreading the word on climate issues and supporting individual causes and campaigns. We have always had a soft-spot for the planet we call home and now we’re directly spending a percentage of our turnover to make sure the world can be a better place.
  • We are adjusting our working practices and policies to address the climate pinch-points that most businesses face. This includes zero commuting, reduced peak-hour travel, flexible working, home offices, supply-chain management, cloud-delivery of services, low-energy provision of digital services, and peer-to-peer hierarchy.
  • Continually review our policy to ensure it is still relevant, up to date and correct. Learning and information changes understanding and we must adapt quickly and decisively.
  • We shall not bow down to the gods of growth: Aggressively growing a business is wasteful, so we commit to grow our business organically, sustainably and be here for the long game.
  • Avoid carbon-intensive investments. This means zero direct investment in high-carbon industries, and managing indirect exposure through green-focussed funds.
  • We commit to increasing our positive contribution to the planet over the years and by 2030 we plan to sequester ten times the carbon we produce and recycle/upcycle 90% of what we consume (i.e. close to zero landfill waste).
  • We fund the sequestering of carbon dioxide in trees, hedgerows, and plants in the U.K. This is done directly through Forest Carbon and indirectly through donations to The Woodland Trust. Both are UK-based and accredited, environmentally-friendly methods of carbon capture.
  • We are committed to piloting “direct-from-air” carbon capture projects. This is an emerging technology and in addition to carbon capture from planting.
  • All transport will be low-carbon, specifically targeting business travel where, from 2022, the majority of journeys will be zero emissions, new company vehicles will be electric or plugin hybrid, flying will be actively discouraged. There is zero rush-hour commuting.
  • Finally, inspired by Microsoft, we are committed to remove our entire carbon footprint going back to 1996. This is on target to complete in 2025, thereby eradicating any CO2 trace we might have left.

There are always ways we can reduce CO2 output further and we actively look to the longer-term when making choices that affect carbon emissions.

For example, company vehicles cover a maximum 5,000 business miles each year – at an average of 85g/km. We can do better – by 2022 the business mileage is targeted to be 20% lower and average emissions under 50g/km. Rail travel, our preferred method of travel, emits approximately 14g per person per kilometre and the London tube is 9g/km. Average business travel CO2 emissions for the company is projected to fall under 25g/km by the end of 2021.

We are, by quite some margin, the cleanest part of our supply chain, and we are working to “green” the whole shooting match by driving down energy usage at the core of digital service delivery, and by using more efficient suppliers, partners, and services. As of November 2020, the operation of all our server hosting services are carbon neutral via renewable energy. Since March 2020, we moved to 100% home working, reducing the carbon usage footprint of our offices in London and Leeds as close to zero as possible.

First published: 2011-06-14, updated 2021-02-17.