Decarbonisation

23 April | Ask the Expert: Carbon Accounting

Curious about carbon accounting but tight on time? Want to talk about other challenges and connect with great people? Join us for a quick and informative online session, featuring:

  • 15-minute Lightning Talk: Learn the essentials from leading experts
  • 5-minute Live Q&A: Get your burning questions answered
  • 10-minute Speed Networking: Share challenges & connect
  •  5-minute Wrap-up: Walk away with actionable insights & resources

What is ‘Ask the Expert’?

‘Ask the Expert’ is a new series of informal drop-in events where you can join our specialists for a short presentation and guided discussion around a chosen topic.

Who is it for?

This session exploring ‘What is Carbon Accounting?’ is open to all businesses and organisations and it is free to attend.

Our thriving community of mutually supportive members provides an opportunity to share learning, challenge thinking and mobilise action, be this through co-designed events, hosting networking sessions or simply sowing seeds for future collaborations or thought-leadership.

If you would like to talk to a member of the team about how we can support your organisation, please contact membership@cynnalcymru.com

Our experts

Karolina Rucinska

Sustainability Strategist | Cynnal Cymru – Sustain Wales

Karolina joined Cynnal Cymru in 2021 to provide consultancy support to the public and private sectors on how to become more sustainable in their operations.

Originally from Poland, Karolina developed her interest in sustainable development having witnessed the unintended consequences of the huge transformations that took place in her home country and the Republic of Ireland which she later moved to.

This lived experience prompted her to pursue higher degrees focused on sustainability, tourism, food systems and public understanding of science at Cardiff University. While a student, Karolina was involved in research investigating farm animal welfare, but later she moved to manage research projects at the Cardiff School of Engineering. There, she gained an appreciation of energy systems and the challenges that come with decarbonising them.

In her spare time, Karolina volunteers at Oasis Cardiff as a lead gardener and the Good Gym as a task member. She refuses to learn to drive and is a firm believer and practitioner of low carbon lifestyle. Karolina is described as one that brings people together and strives to make things better.

Huw Williams

Principle Carbon Accountant & Verifier | Auditel

As an Associate Consultant of British Standards Institute, NQA Partner and IEMA Affiliate, Huw is qualified in the GHG Protocol Accounting & Reporting Standard, ISO14064-1, ISO14068-1, TCFD, CFD, CBAM, PAS2060, and PAS2080 he has worked with many organisations to calculate their carbon footprint and create robust and achievable carbon reduction plans. Huw understands that businesses need to grow and adapt whilst also achieving carbon reduction. With over 30 years’ experience in sales and operations, working with organisations from SME’s to Corporate Groups, he has worked with, and understands the Private Equity market.

Auditel is a leading Cost, Procurement & Carbon Solutions Company. We help organisations reduce their carbon emissions whilst also reducing their costs. In the current challenging economic climate, organisations are battling with the desire to drive growth and profitability, whilst investing in low carbon emitting technologies to reduce their carbon footprint and speed up their journey to achieving Net Zero.

23 April | Ask the Expert: Carbon Accounting Read More »

Two women sit back to back on a step

Cynnal Cymru’s advice team grows

Camille will b responsible for helping guideing Cynnal Cymru’s clients towards more effectiveand through their transition to sustainable practices by providing them with personalised andmanageable action points. Camille joins our team of specialists providing advice to organisationswho want to become sustainable, led by our Sustainability Strategist Dr Karolina Rucinska., whohas recently been promoted as a manager to lead this growing team.Karolina said:‘Camille brings a wealth of knowledge to the team and has a talent for systems thinking,explaining complex topics in a engaging and impactful way, and insights that help shift mindsetswhile offering practical solutions.’Camille previously collaborated with Cynnal Cymru on sustainability guides for SMEs alongwith co-creator Gillian Rumsey. Theis free guides delves into a range of topics, such as wastemanagement, energy efficiency, responsible material sourcing, and sustainable supply chainmanagement, among others. Each guide delivers clear, actionable recommendations, illustratedwith real-life examples to motivate and steer SMEs towards a sustainable future.Camille said:‘As a recent Sustainable Development graduate, I am thrilled about the possibility to not onlycarry out my knowledge and skills in practice, but to work with a talented and inspiringSustainability Strategist who is able to think holistically in her approach to addressingunsustainable practices. Already in my first two weeks of being in my new role, I have beenencouraged to set goals for yearly progress that merges my personal passions with project ideasthat can be developed within the organisation. As you can image, I am excited to get started onsome of these projects and work towards minimising unsustainable business practices aroundWales.Whilst new to the role, this is not my first time working with Cynnal Cymru. Earlier last year, Idid a four-month internship working with Karolina Rucinska to develop sustainability guides forSMEs. It was based on this positive experience that I decided to apply for a job in theorganisation. However, I was unsuccessful in the first attempt. Nevertheless, the feedback I wasgiven following the interview process gave me great insight into what I did well and what I couldhave done better. So, when another relevant job posting surfaced from Cynnal Cymru monthslater, I applied for the job and I applied the feedback, which, I believe, is what gave me theadvantage. Being a little persistent does have its charm I suppose.’Camille moved to the UK from Denmark, pursuing her passion for and education in systems-focused approaches, and specifically how their application can build and enhance localcommunity agency and ownership. She brings with her extensive knowledge and understandingof how global challenges interlink, and their impact on local communities, and is always keen toexplore these challenges and find effective strategies for addressing them.CTA (signpost to new Sustainability Advice page or email?):So, whether your organisation is taking its first steps towards emissions-reduction or in need of acomprehensive footprint and action plan, we have the expertise to help you achieve your goals.If developing a sustainability strategy, action plan or staff workshop for idea-generation has been on your to-do list, then Camille and Karolina are keen tohelp! Please get in touch at…. Or learn more here (if Advice page ready

Camille will be responsible for helping Cynnal Cymru’s clients towards more effective and sustainable practices by providing them with personalised and manageable action points. Camille joins our team of specialists, led by our Sustainability Strategist Dr Karolina Rucinska.

Karolina said:
‘Camille brings a wealth of knowledge to the team and has a talent for systems thinking, explaining complex topics in a engaging and impactful way, and insights that help shift mindsets while offering practical solutions.’

Camille previously collaborated with Cynnal Cymru on sustainability guides for SMEs along with co-creator Gillian Rumsey. The free guides delves into a range of topics, such as waste management, energy efficiency, responsible material sourcing, and sustainable supply chain management. Each guide delivers clear, actionable recommendations, illustrated with real-life examples to motivate and steer SMEs towards a sustainable future.

Camille said:
‘As a recent Sustainable Development graduate, I am thrilled about the possibility to not only carry out my knowledge and skills in practice, but to work with a talented and inspiring Sustainability Strategist who is able to think holistically in her approach to addressing unsustainable practices. Already in my first two weeks of being in my new role, I have been encouraged to set goals for yearly progress that merges my personal passions with project ideas that can be developed within the organisation. As you can image, I am excited to get started on some of these projects and work towards minimising unsustainable business practices around Wales.

Whilst new to the role, this is not my first time working with Cynnal Cymru. Earlier last year, I did a four-month internship working with Karolina Rucinska to develop sustainability guides for SMEs. It was based on this positive experience that I decided to apply for a job in the organisation. However, I was unsuccessful in the first attempt. Nevertheless, the feedback I was given following the interview process gave me great insight into what I did well and what I could have done better. So, when another relevant job posting surfaced from Cynnal Cymru months later, I applied for the job and I applied the feedback, which, I believe, is what gave me the advantage. Being a little persistent does have its charm I suppose.’

Camille moved to the UK from Denmark, pursuing her passion for and education in systems-focused approaches, and specifically how their application can build and enhance local community agency and ownership. She brings with her extensive knowledge and understanding of how global challenges interlink, and their impact on local communities, and is always keen to explore these challenges and find effective strategies for addressing them.

So, whether your organisation is taking its first steps towards emissions-reduction or in need of a comprehensive footprint and action plan, we have the expertise to help you achieve your goals.

If developing a sustainability strategy, action plan or staff workshop for idea-generation has been on your to-do list, then Camille and Karolina are keen to help! Please get in touch at advice@cynnalcymru.com or learn more here.

Cynnal Cymru’s advice team grows Read More »

Make 2024 your Carbon Accounting year

What is Carbon Accounting?

Carbon Accounting is a process that assesses your organisation’s impact on the climate (known as your carbon footprint), from the electricity your office uses, to the travel-to-work habits of your staff, to the supply chains you use. It can be an extensive process that often takes several months.

Most businesses, especially small businesses, can’t afford to employ someone to focus on carbon accounting, which is why you can hire a Carbon Accountant to do this for you. You know you’re getting someone qualified, who understands carbon accounting inside-out, and can lead your staff through the process of getting all the necessary data and documents together. Cynnal Cymru has just launched a Carbon Accounting service for small and medium businesses across Wales!

Can I do my own carbon accounting?

You can absolutely do your own carbon accounting. If you’d prefer to do it yourself, Cynnal Cymru can provide advice on the best tools to use – or you can become a member for free advice on the process from our Sustainability Advisors.

If you do choose to do your own carbon accounting, you’ll need a lot of different data, including:

  • Number of staff
  • Company turnover
  • Metered gas, water, and electricity usage
  • Weight and type of waste
  • Types, number, and weight of goods purchased
  • Money spent on services
  • Transportation in type and distance for business travel and staff commutes

Even just collecting this information and ensuring you don’t miss anything out can seem a daunting task, which might not feel worth it for small businesses. Hiring someone to guide you through that process, ensure you get all the right information, and then do the calculations for you can lift a weight off your shoulders – and for a fraction of the price of a full-time employee!

Why should I care about carbon accounting?

It’s a great question that we hear often – why does my organisation need carbon accounting? Is carbon accounting just for big businesses with huge carbon footprints?

While big businesses should absolutely be leading the way on carbon footprinting, all organisations of every size should be thinking about their carbon impacts. We are currently in a climate crisis, and if we ignore our own contributions then we will end up causing further harm. In Wales, we are legally committed (through the Environment (Wales) Act 2016) to reduce our carbon emissions to net zero by 2050. That’s only 26 years away! Whether you have just started a new business or are an established not-for-profit that has started looking carefully at its carbon output, you’ll want to start working towards net zero emissions in your organisation sooner rather than later.

Beyond your legal requirements, going through carbon accounting helps you better understand your emissions and gives you opportunities for reduction. If you base your organisation’s sustainability decisions on guesses, you may overlook big areas for improvement and mislead your staff, suppliers or community. With Carbon Accounting, you can set targets based on real data, which you can monitor based on international standards and targets. With the support of a Carbon Accountant, you can compare your performance year after year and see your progress towards your goals. You will feel more secure in your carbon targets and your team will be able to see the results of the changes they make.

Can I afford to do Carbon Accounting?

We know that small businesses, charities, and nonprofits operatre within very tight budgets. We get it! As a charity ourselves, we understand that you can’t afford to pay for services you don’t need.

At Cynnal Cymru, we’ve developed a model that works best for organisations like yours and takes into account the pressures on both your time and resources. From £2,250 plus VAT, you can get a full carbon footprint assessment, recommendations for emissions reductions, and a final report that can be shared with your board, customers, and stakeholders.

We also see our role as educational, so as we go through this service, we’ll explain each step to you and give you tips on understanding and improving your carbon footprint. That means that, after your initial carbon accounting process, you may well be equipped to go off and do it yourself in future years. If you want some support and guidance without going through the whole process every year, you can become a member to get free support from our Sustainability Advisors on your carbon accounting needs.

Do you provide any discounts to certain organisations?

Yes! At Cynnal Cymru, our Carbon Accounting package has been developed for small and medium organisations.

Our service is best for (but not limited to):

  • Organisations of 1-49 employees
  • Not-for-profit organisations
  • Organisations in one building or location — including rented offices
  • Organisations that offer services rather than sell and manufacture goods

We provide a Membership programme for organisations like these, which provides you with benefits such as networking, events, and added support from our team. As a Cynnal Cymru member, you will receive a 10% discount on your Carbon Accounting services, as well as free consultancy from our Sustainability Advisors.

How do I start my Carbon Accounting journey?

Ready to speak to the team? You can contact us to speak to a Sustainability Advisor and begin your journey!

If you’re not sure yet, read more about our Carbon Accounting service here.

Make 2024 your Carbon Accounting year Read More »

How does my job relate to nature?

Why holding a space for nature-connection is my dream job

Our Sustainability Trainer Sara Wynne-Pari discusses her sustainability journey.

Growing up in rural North Wales has greatly influenced my love for nature and my dedication to protecting the natural environment. Although I’ve worked across a wide variety of disciplines, nature and biodiversity have been a constant underlying theme. I enjoy helping others on their sustainability journey and being a good environmental communicator, able to understand and tailor discussions to individual needs, has been integral to my work.

This passion for both nature and communication has led me to be the lead trainer and project manager for  Nature Wise, our eco-literacy training programme. I also develop content and deliver bespoke nature-based training to help organisations improve their understanding of the nature crisis and recognise ways they can take action to reverse it. 

I’m currently studying an IEMA-accredited MSc in Environmental and Business Management at Bangor University. Although I was nervous to return to education two decades after my bachelor’s degree, I have found the experience re-energising. It is rewarding to develop my own knowledge but also great to be able to apply all the experience and insights I have gained to what I’m learning.

When I’m not working, you’ll find me exploring the beaches of Ynys Mon, waiting for the cuckoo’s return to Nant Ffrancon, looking for new swimming spots or riding my electric bike through Eryri (Snowdonia). Delivering the NatureWise course has given me an even deeper respect and connection to nature and I feel very lucky to be able to hold a space for others to explore this through the course.  

Nature Wise is a science-based, action-focused course to help participants understand the relationships between people and natural systems. It shares knowledge, builds understanding and provides the tools to motivate and catalyse action. 

We can’t live without nature — it provides us with the essentials for life, such as clean air, water, and food, and greatly contributes to our physical and mental wellbeing. It is our best ally in the fight against climate change. 

There’s a way we can all incorporate nature into our work – of course planting trees and volunteering outdoors is important but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. There are lots of other ways we can help, for example, you could become a nature champion at work, sharing tips and ideas with your colleagues; encouraging your organisation to incorporate wildlife corridors and pollinating plants around your business sites or incorporating biodiversity considerations into your procurement process. 

Unsure of how you can implement any of that in your role? Worried you don’t have the right influence, or can’t figure out the steps to getting there?

Join us for the Nature Wise eco-literacy course! We will provide you with information, ideas and inspiration. We also offer bespoke courses for any organisations who would like more tailored content.

Sara Wynne-Pari is one of our Sustainability Trainers. She leads Nature Wise eco-literacy training, regularly running Nature Wise for Work which helps you understand your human-nature relationship as it fits in with your job role, and how you can improve your work’s relationship to nature via achievable goals.

How does my job relate to nature? Read More »

What can a just and fair net zero transition look like? 

What can a just and fair net zero transition look like?

What can a just and fair net zero transition look like? It’s a topic that has been on my mind a lot since joining Cynnal Cymru in February as the Senior Programme and Policy Lead, leading our Fair Work and Living Wage team. Unsurprisingly for a charity called ‘Sustain Wales’, we’ve always been a sustainability charity first and foremost. But for a few years now, we’ve worked on developing our aims on ‘just transition’, and that has included embedding the fair work agenda outlined in the Fair Work Wales report in 2019 into our aims. That has meant working with trade unions, writing policy papers on spreading fair work principles throughout existing government programmes, and sitting on the Welsh Government’s group aimed at tackling modern slavery.  

We’re also the Living Wage Foundation’s accreditation partner for Wales, meaning we essentially host Living Wage Wales in house. Living Wage Wales has delivered over 22,000 pay rises for low-paid workers across Wales through this work, including 5,575 in 2023 alone – making a direct contribution to tackling the cost of living crisis. This fits with another key Cynnal Cymru principle – focus on action, not just words. 

This is what myself and my colleagues on the Fair Work and Living Wage team work on – but what does it have to do with sustainability? I’d say it has a huge contribution to make. We should be honest about the fact that there are vested interests who are opposed to carbon reduction and nature-positive actions, particularly at the scale we know these need to happen at. It barely needs saying, but profit motives very often run against sustainability aims. A tree can be a project stewarded by communities over hundreds of years that provides space for nature and clean air for people, or it can be a blocker to a new car park. At time of writing, it was only yesterday that we heard the UAE government plans to use COP28 to make oil deals.  

There are often efforts to protect private profit motives via leveraging the jobs business creates, to bind the inexorable destruction of the natural world to the interests of working people. In this framing, environmentalists and their causes are painted as cloistered from the demands of the real world that most people have to deal with. There’s no hiding from the fact that this can be an emotive and powerful dividing line, carving the people whose world is being worsened away from efforts to protect it. We saw in the recent Uxbridge by-election how action on emissions, in this case Ultra Low Emission Zones (ULEZ), can be utilised for political gain. 

Focus on action – not just words.

For me, then, a just and fair transition isn’t just a slogan. It is a vital tool in our efforts towards carbon reduction and nature restoration. If our sustainability efforts are questioned, we can very happily point to the work we do to ensure that people have access to fair working conditions and boosting the pay of those in the lowest-paid jobs so that they can afford to live and not just exist. Work on a fair and just transition can bind working people to the cause of sustainability – not an inconvenience for people, but an opportunity. At a legislative level in Wales, the recent Social Partnership and Public Procurement Act has amended the Well-being of Future Generations Act to include ‘fair work’, and our well-being indicators include payment of the real Living Wage and trade union membership. This binds the cause of working people even closer to the task of saving our planet. 

If we get it right, the green transition gives us the opportunity to repair many of the broken elements of our economy. It can mean high-quality, unionised, green jobs spread across communities that have seen unfair working practices and low pay proliferate. Green skills training programmes that prepare our workforce for the future can contribute to bringing an end to the gender and racial inequities we see today. And of course, it can mean the avoidance of the road to disaster our climate and natural world are currently on.

So, as we look at Wales Climate Week and COP28, let’s keep the things that are important to people – their livelihoods, incomes, and their everyday lives – at the forefront of our minds. That’s what a just and fair transition is all about. 


Harry Thompson is Cynnal Cymru’s Senior Programmes and Policy Lead. He manages the Fair Work and Living Wage team, which work towards Cynnal Cymru’s strategic goal of a fair and just society. He comes from an economic policy background, having led projects on topics such as empowering trade unions, the Welsh Government’s fiscal framework, and community empowerment.

He is also our Equality and Diversity lead.

What can a just and fair net zero transition look like?  Read More »

Green Skills for a Net Zero Wales

How do we build green skills for a Net Zero Wales?

Last week, a few members of the Cynnal Cymru team attended Green Skills for a Net Zero Wales led by Business in the Community. In this breakfast briefing about the Green Skills agenda in Wales, likeminded organisations met to discuss green skills, with an address from the Minister of Economy in Wales, Vaughan Gething. Cynnal Cymru facilitated round tables with senior leaders in business of all sizes across Wales to exchange ideas on how everyone in Wales can grow a skilled workforce that meets Wales’ net zero commitments.  

What are Wales’ Net Zero Commitments?  

As part of the All Wales Plan 2021-25, organisations across every sector have pledged to make changes towards a net zero economy. In order to achieve a net zero economy, Wales as a whole needs to reduce our total emissions in 2030 by at least 90% relative to the baseline year, 2019-20.

How can we do this?

A key message in the event was championing the notion that green skills are not just about technical skills or the creation of new jobs. At Cynnal Cymru, we believe in a well-rounded approach to sustainable change, which is why we have a Fair Work team leading Living Wage Wales and a just transition to sustainable changes.  

Since joining Cynnal Cymru, I have attended and led events such as a Net Zero Skills round table for the Open University, a steering group for the IEMA green careers hub, and a Mainstreaming Equality for a Just Transition evidence panel. Through these conversations and research, I have come to realise that if we define green skills narrowly – only as technical jobs in energy and transport, for example – we will alienate people and will not reach our Net Zero transition goals. The UK economy, like many others, relies on sectors such as hospitality, retail, healthcare, construction, creative arts and more, which also need to be a part of this transition. Our focus must be on supporting existing sectors to upskill and re-skill their existing workforces so that huge communities don’t miss out on being part of a Net Zero economy.  

If we define green skills so narrowly – only as technical jobs in energy and transport, for example – we will alienate people and will not reach our Net Zero transition goals.

So why aren’t we doing this?

I noticed that organisations:  

  • Don’t have the time to think about green skills  
  • Don’t know where to start with these conversations or changes  
  • Don’t know how green skills apply to them  

I think this can be linked back to the understanding that every job can be green.  The Welsh Government is currently taking consultations on how to achieve net zero skills across sector. Cynnal Cymru is a member of the SME Taskforce for Climate, alongside other small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). As part of my work on this taskforce, I am educating workplaces across sectors on the ways they can understand their own skillset in relation to net zero.

Sign up for Cynnal Cymru’s newsletter to discover actions for nature or get in contact for how we can support you directly in your sustainability journey.

Karolina joined Cynnal Cymru in 2021 as our Sustainability Advisor to provide consultancy support to the public and private sectors on how to become more sustainable in their operations. She represents Cynnal Cymru on the SME Taskforce for the Climate.

Green Skills for a Net Zero Wales Read More »

What inspires you to take action on the climate and nature crisis?

“I’m really excited about the future if we tackle these crises in a positive way. We’ve lost so much biodiversity in Britain. And in my lifetime, if we could see that natural spectacle come back, what a wonderful future we could create.” (Dan)

“There’s a trillion planets but as far as we know, we are on the only one that can sustain life! It just proves how precise the conditions need to be for life. And you know, climate change, it’s not about the planet: it’s about life, here.” (Carys)

“As a kid, I enjoyed playing in nature. It’s so important for confidence, learning about yourself. And that’s only going to be possible for kids in the future if they don’t have to worry about how resilient the environment is.” (Gethyn, Ecologist)

“I was born in rural France and I can see all this change. If we don’t make a difference now, then the world we live in will be so different, so dangerous for the future generation. Think about that! We have to sort it out.”

“We’re helping to decarbonise Wales one business at a time so they can have a good carbon footprint and a solid carbon reduction plan because it just makes perfect sense.” (Dave, Auditel)

“I think the vegan movement and a more plant based lifestyle is a way that is going to help propel us into a more conscious future.” (Carly)

“It’s my duty of care as a teacher to have an interest in sustainability and make sure it has a direct impact in education and on future generations.” (Mary)

“I’m involved primarily for my and others’ future generations. But also because it’s the sensible way to live” (Ceri)

“I’m of the insect-splattered windscreen generation. My children have no concept of it; it’s declined by 80% in my lifetime. It’s the proverbial canary in the coalmine. Halting and reversing the moving baseline is what inspires me.” (Ben, Woop Woop Magazine)

“The time is now to think and work collectively to envision a brighter and environmentally just world. Join the conversation to realise a better planet and collective future. We need to move beyond doom and imagine what is possible.” (Louise)

“SMEs account for over half of the UKs economy and I feel a sense of honour and privilege in playing a part in a more sustainable commercial future.” (Louis, Web Marketer UK)

“My belief that we have a moral obligation to leave the world a better place was strengthened when I travelled & experienced the impact of climate change first hand. Now I use my unique skillset to try to reverse the damage that’s been done” (Ant, Motion Manor)

“When you have a home planet that has everything in it to help you live a good life, it makes sense to look after it. It’s self care – for us as a species who have the good fortune to exist in this bountiful ecosystem.” (Sylvia, Cynnal Cymru)

What inspires you to take action on the climate and nature crisis? Read More »

A laptop with online meeting in a backround and a plant

Try the hybrid way for the planet and people

When organisations grow, it is a cause for celebration. New staff members, new clients, and crowded offices! The obvious response is to move to a bigger place, upgrade the current space or make the leap from renting to buying an office! After all, staff productivity and healthy working places make a huge difference to businesses and their staff, as many tech companies confirm. But since the pandemic, and because of commitments to reducing impacts on climate, investing in offices and buildings is not the only viable solution.

The great shift

During the COVID-19 pandemic, like millions of other people who were not working in core services such as health care, transport or food retail, our Cynnal Cymru team (at that time just five people) left their shared office space unsure when they would come back. But as time went on, our team adapted to working online, and stopped printing material, travelling for meetings and to work, and ordering stationery for everyday use and events. As we got more used to working remotely, we also developed new habits and ways of working, which resulted in us creating new training products that addressed the newly emerging need for remote learning.

The new way of working spurred innovation and made us realise we can forego business travel, stop printing documents and buying office stationery, stop using business cards and give up commuting for good. We realised we can grow without having all the things every service-based organisation thought it needed.

With that came savings and a reduction in Scope 2 carbon emissions – that is, emissions associated with the use of electricity. Because we weren’t using an office, our emissions fell from 5.25 tonnes of CO2e to zero. We did not use gas for heating and we had no company cars, so this showed no change (we stayed at 0 tonnes of CO2e). There was also a change in some of the categories of emissions in Scope 3 (that is, emissions from everything but the use of gas and fuel (scope 1) and electricity (scope 2)). Our emissions from business travel went down from 1.9 tCO2e to zero, and likewise, staff commuting changed from 0.2 tCO2e to zero.

So far so good, but the team began to grow during the pandemic, which meant that if we returned to office working, we would need more space – and in the meantime, we needed new laptops. That alone meant our Scope 3 emissions increased from 2.96tCO2e before the pandemic to 3.84tCO2e – mainly due to the purchase of our new laptops! We were also still paying costs on our now-empty office, and although our bills were included in the rent, the space we occupied was heated by gas over which we had no control. If we were to continue this way, without making any changes, our emissions would continue to rise and we would not achieve our decarbonisation target. In fact, because of the increase in our staff numbers, we didn’t meet our target, but a change was clearly needed to our office situation. Our carbon footprint results for the post-pandemic year were not dissimilar to those of comparable organisations around the world, as during the pandemic, emissions were lower in areas such as business travel and commuting, but shifted to household energy use and logistics of goods. Moreover, many offices that were empty of workers during the pandemic were still operating, wasting the energy that powered them. The reductions seen during the pandemic turned out to be temporary, and in 2022, when the lockdown restrictions started to be phased out, the emissions rebounded.

Becoming hybrid

To have an office or not? That was the question we had to grapple with. By the end of 2022, Cynnal Cymru had twelve staff members but only three office-loving regulars. We had begun travelling for work again, and meeting in person. Events were back on the agenda. All of this was great for staff morale, but not so great for the planet.

Keeping low-carbon lifestyles at home seemed to be the way forward. However, a study by the Office of National Statistics shows that it is not that straightforward. Working from home means that during a cold season, heating will be left on for a few more hours a day than usual. Electrical equipment such as laptops will be left on. Between 2019 and 2020, household emissions that were not related to travel, which is mostly heating emissions, increased by 1.5% from 80 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent to 81 million tonnes[1]. While emissions from travel to work fell significantly, many households continued to purchase goods online, increasing the demand for home deliveries.

We were also mindful of the fact that if we were to become a fully remote organisation, we would need to address a mix of negative and positive impacts on staff and the organisation. According to a POST brief on the impact of remote and hybrid working on workers and organisations, working from home can increase well-being, self-reported productivity and work satisfaction, reduce work-life conflict, and introduce new ways to collaborate and more inclusive ways of working through the use of technology. However, the challenges can include increased work intensity, longer working hours, more distractions, potential health issues, decreased social interactions, fewer promotion and learning opportunities and an inability to disconnect from work.

All that being said, we took a leap of faith and decided to go for the third option – become a hybrid organisation with a combination of office-based and remote arrangements. We did not want to own or rent a whole office in which we had to store office items we do not use, but at the same time, we did not want to lose a place where we could meet with each other and our clients.

Definitions


Hybrid’ working refers to a combination of office-remote arrangements.

Flexible working describes working arrangements that give people a degree of flexibility over where, when and how they work.

Remote working refers to a type of flexible working based on location, where workers work at home or a location other than the traditional workspace where the employer is based.

Source: POST Brief No.0049

We found a co-working space in a building that meets the BREEAM standard, meaning that energy and water saving measures are in place, waste is segregated into five streams, there are light and water sensors, and solar panels on the roof. In addition, the space we chose has secure bike sheds, storage for the things we absolutely need, plenty of spaces to relax, quiet booths for private meetings or focus time – and a sustainable cafeteria! In other words, lots of facilities that a modern and sustainable office space needs!

We chose to rent two permanent desks, with access to hot-desking, meeting rooms and events spaces, which removed the need for us to buy equipment such as desks, chairs, banners, or office stationery. It gives us flexibility and a quality standard which as a small organisation we would not have been able to afford in our own office. Staff who want to work from home can continue to do so, but we have the option of a co-working space for anyone who wants to come into the office to work, or when we have a staff get-together. From the perspective of our emissions, it was a great choice as we have staff members based across Wales and England, so the less commuting the better for their pockets and our decarbonisation plan.

We are only a few months into our new way of working, and the impact of this move, both negative and positive, has yet to become fully clear. In terms of our carbon emissions, our next carbon report will show whether it made a real difference because in 2022/2023 our staff numbers increased yet again!

One of the biggest benefits of moving to a co-working space is collaboration. We sit side by side with many organisations with whom we have worked over the years, as they too have made a move, and so a spontaneous chat over a coffee can lead to discussions that are hard to replicate remotely.

Unsure where to start? Here is what you can do

With the rise of flexible, remote and hybrid working, organisations need to rethink their strategy to ensure that it benefits people and the planet. Here are a few things to get you started:

1. Calculate emissions and compare emissions before and after the pandemic

A carbon report will give you a great understanding of what areas you need to tackle. If, for example, the report before the pandemic shows high emissions from your use of offices which are not often staffed, this is something that needs to be tackled first in your decarbonisation strategy.

2. Survey your staff

Given that every organisation is different, there is no one size fits all, but the trend in the UK and around the world points towards flexibility. One of the biggest benefits to offering staff an option to work from home is retaining and attracting talent. But, to understand what your team needs in terms of work arrangements, it is best to devote time to a conversation before any big decisions are made.

3. Learn from others

Whichever option you choose, it will have some impact on your organization, so have a chat with other organisations that had gone through the same process. Our Sustainability Adviser talked to IEMA about their decisions, experience, and the benefits of becoming a remote organisation, which helped her better understand the practicalities of a big shift. As noted earlier, just because there is no office, it does not mean that emissions vanish completely.

4.  Adopt a circular mindset

Whether you forego an office altogether or downsize, remember to do it with as little impact as possible on the environment. In preparation from our move, we didn’t simply order a skip and chuck everything in! Instead, everything was sorted into four piles: things to give away, things to sell, things to keep, and things to recycle – which left us with a small pile of items that had to be disposed of.

5. Focus on staff and emissions from home

Whether you decide to go fully remote, hybrid, or offer greater flexibility, you need to think about staff engagement as a priority going forward. Consider using the saving you made from selling or moving out of your office to invest in better remote procedures (automation), staff activities and get to-togethers, as well as well-being offers. If you are downsizing or reducing office hours, consider investing in low-carbon solutions both at work and at home. Use this resource to understand the impact of homeworking.

Here is how we can help

Training

We can help you build knowledge and an empowered workforce through our courses and training programmes

Membership

Join a growing network of sustainability leaders and connect with like-minded organisations.

Advice

We help you to identify your organisation’s impacts on people and the environment,.


[1] https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/environmentalaccounts/articles/covid19restrictionscuthouseholdemissions/2021-09-21

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Wales Net Zero 2035 Challenge Group Launches First Challenge: How could Wales feed itself by 2035?

The world is experiencing the disastrous impacts of the climate crisis and is currently off track to avert further impacts.  Leading scientists recently issued what they called “our final warning”. The Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru have jointly invited an independent group to explore how the country can speed up its transition to net zero, and how amending its target to 2035 from 2050 could be made possible. 

The ‘Group’, led by former Environment Minister Jane Davidson, is tasked with: 

  • finding the best examples of transformative change from Wales and around the world and bringing them to Wales; 
  • challenging the Welsh government and Senedd (Welsh Parliament) to go further and faster; 
  • imagining what a fairer, more sustainable future looks like for the Welsh nation. 

Will Evans, 10th generation farmer from Wrexham and member of the Group said: 

“I am deeply concerned about the impact of climate change on farming in the UK and across the world, that’s why I am proud and excited to be part of this national conversation on how Wales can blaze a trail for action and adaptation to safeguard a future for our children.” 

10th generation farmer Will Evans, is proud of his work. Yet he has grave concerns about the future of farming in Wales and the future for his daughters in the face of climate change. He is aware that farming needs to change and this provides a huge opportunity. He has recently joined the newly formed Wales Net Zero 2035 Challenge Group, chaired by ex-environment minister Jane Davidson to help ensure farming and the food system in Wales is fit for the future. The Group is formally launching its work today, with a first challenge to explore how Wales could feed itself by 2035

Jane Davidson, Chair, said: 

“Setting up the challenge group shows that the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru “get” the graveness of our global situation and are serious about how we can lessen the impacts and prepare for the future.” 

The Group is looking for the most imaginative solutions to inform 10-year deliverable plans from 2025 to 2035.  

It will be seeking views from Wales and the world; making draft conclusions public to openly put them to the test in Wales and beyond, before making recommendations to the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru in summer 2024.  

Jane Davidson added:

“I challenge anybody with big ideas about how to reach net zero by 2035 – whilst also making sure that we support communities in Wales and deliver better outcomes for nature – to respond to our calls for evidence.” 

The Group will be wanting to hear from people and communities across Wales and the world to listen to their experiences and ideas, across a range of key challenges. The first challenge, being launched today, is How could Wales feed itself by 2035? 

The first challenge’s call for views and evidence also launches today and is expected to run for two months, closing on the 30th June. The launch dates for further challenges will be announced in due course. The Group’s work is scheduled to run until summer 2024. 

The Group is made up of 25 independent, unpaid members and includes representatives from the Welsh Youth Parliament. 

The five Net Zero 2035 Challenges are: 

  1. How could Wales feed itself by 2035?  
  2. How could Wales meet energy needs by 2035 whilst phasing out fossil fuels?   
  3. How could Wales heat and build homes and workplaces by 2035?  
  4. How could people and places be connected across Wales by 2035?  
  5. What could education, jobs and work, look like across Wales by 2035? 

Visit the new website netzero2035.wales for more details >>

For more information, contact Stanley Townsend

Please follow the new Wales Net Zero for updates on their work at:
Twitter @WNZ2035
Mastodon @WNZ2035@toot.wales
Linkedin Wales Net Zero 2035

Wales Net Zero 2035 Challenge Group Launches First Challenge: How could Wales feed itself by 2035? Read More »

Heading for Net Zero? Our new partnership can help

We are seeing a growing demand for services not just to help organisations make sense of sustainable development, but more specifically to measure their impact relating to climate change and the Net Zero ambition.  Identifying robust and scientifically accurate data is a barrier to many organisations and so to assist with this challenge, Cynnal Cymru is joining forces with Compare Your Footprint to provide an enhanced carbon accounting consultancy.

Compare Your Footprint is a B Corp based in the UK which provides the best quality tools to consultants and businesses; and expertise to support organisations to make a just transition to a sustainable future. Their carbon software will allow us to measure scopes 1, 2 and 3 emissions and generate a comprehensive analysis of a company’s footprint. This in turn will allow us to work with clients to find the most appropriate and effective strategies to decarbonise.

Our license agreement kicks off in April 2023. Please look out for our carbon accounting service launch and if you think this service may be of value to you in the future please contact consultancy@cynnalcymru.com.

Heading for Net Zero? Our new partnership can help Read More »

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