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How long does it take to do my carbon footprint?

Once a business has committed to reducing its carbon emissions and wants our help to plot a course to net zero, invariably the next question is ‘how long will this take?’

This is a very difficult question to answer specifically. In order to go completely carbon neutral - or indeed carbon positive- there a number of criteria to consider. Every business is different, has different emissions, different products that require different processes and works within a different value chain, meaning there a number of different variables that determine how quickly a business can achieve its carbon reduction targets.

What is easier to determine is the time it takes to manage the elements of this process that can be controlled. Specifically, the time we need initially to capture and measure each business’s carbon emissions.

Measure your carbon footprint data

This is the most important, but often the most time consuming part of the carbon reduction process for any business. On average this can take up to 10-12 weeks.

Many businesses find this first step the hardest of the whole process, which can often lead to delays. As your partner, we will try and guide you through this process but to build momentum we suggest businesses commit enough internal resource to complete this data gathering exercise in no more than eight weeks.

In order to know the destination and the journey to net zero, first we must understand where we are. We do this by calculating the current Carbon Footprint of your business and its value chain. By knowing the level of its emissions, including identifying places of high emissions – called hotspots- we help you set sensible, yet ambitious targets and create appropriate action plans to reduce your emissions where you can and offset what you can’t.

The time-consuming part is typically the data gathering exercise. To calculate your Carbon Footprint we require a full 12 months of emissions data, which is categorised according to the Green House Gas (GHG) protocol corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard. This is an internationally recognised standard, which categorises the emissions generated by any organisation into three types – called scopes.

In all, we measure emissions from Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3 activities:

  • Scope 1 emissions are essentially all the emissions that are directly owned or controlled by your company, for example, those released by company-owned facilities or vehicles.
  • Scope 2 emissions are the indirect emissions- from the generation of energy purchased to power your facilities or vehicles.
  • Scope 3 emissions- also referred to as Value Chain Emissions- are the emissions that originate from businesses that work with the your business as a result of their collaboration in the production, distribution and eventual destruction of your products and services. Although these sources aren’t ‘owned’ by your business, they occur because of the relationship between two companies and are often likely to be represented by scope 1 and 2 emissions of other organisations.

It’s important that you supply us with the relevant data, via our member’s portal to enable us to calculate your carbon emissions in a timely, accurate fashion and that it is as complete as possible. We then validate it and ask for clarification or changes to be made in the event of any inaccuracies.

On receipt of this valid data, we aim to provide a full report, detailing your total Carbon Footprint and a breakdown of where your emissions are coming from, within two weeks.

Annual Cycle of Carbon Reduction

We use an annual cycle of calculation, reduction, offsetting, accreditation and support. The aim is for carbon reduction to become part of both your business planning and your day-to-day activities.


Once we calculate your carbon footprint, we will help you set science-based targets and then coach you to follow a clearly-defined pathway to reduce your emissions for each scope in line with the overall goal set by the UN to limit global warming to 1.5°C and the UK Government’s, goal of achieving Net Zero by 2050.

You know your business best, so we will empower you to make the right decisions and will help you hold yourself to account for delivering your carbon reduction plans, but we won’t do it all for you.

Offset your carbon emissions

As well as helping you to reduce your carbon emissions, your business can achieve further positive impact by offsetting its unavoidable emissions with Gold Standard Certified carbon credits. Offsetting in this way is about investing in projects that save or remove carbon outside of your business processes or value chain to balance the emissions you cannot yet reduce.

Offsetting is an additional cost to our membership packages. It isn’t compulsory, but when you offset with us, we ensure it is accounted for correctly, uses independently accredited credits and supports the creation of new, managed woodland in the UK.

Certificate your carbon emission efforts

When working with clients we are confident that our rigorous formula for measuring then reducing carbon can be independently verified and validated by our certification process.

We think it's important to be transparent and credible in your carbon reduction claims, so we help you publish your carbon footprint, including a bespoke certification web page, to tell your customers what you are doing to reduce and offset your emissions and by giving you a badge you can use on your website and across marketing communications.

You can see an example certification page here

The first phase of this process, from kick-off meeting to certification normally takes 12-14 weeks (depending on how long it takes to gather the data).

If you would like some guidance on how to calculate your emissions  get in touch with our Carbon Coaches today.

Please get in touch if you have any questions about this, or any other aspect of the Go Climate Positive programme.

© Go Climate Positive Limited

21 Naunton Lane, Cheltenham, Gloucs, UK GL53 7BJ

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