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What happens if our emissions increase?

Obviously, the goal of all Go Climate Positive members is to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions every year. However, we recognise that real-life rarely works out the way we intend and that a lot can happen in 12 months. In particular, 2020 will provide unique challenges due to the changes brought about by the Covid-related lockdowns.

  • If your baseline year* is 2020, then the first few years afterwards may see increases due to an artificially low-level of activity in your baseline year.
  • If your baseline year is earlier than 2020, then you may have seen a strong reduction in 2020 due to artificially reduced activity, making it virtually impossible to see reductions in 2021 or even 2022.

Also, from time to time businesses may experience particularly strong sales growth, which makes it especially difficult to reduce the level of emissions. This is particularly true for businesses in a start-up phase.

At Go Climate Positive, we live in the real world, so we offer two approaches to help deal with these issues:

  1. As well as looking for reductions in the absolute level of emissions, we also monitor and track reductions in the intensity of emissions (e.g. emissions per £ of sales income or emissions per product sold). This helps account for businesses experiencing strong sales growth. Even if the absolute level of emissions increases in the short-term the aim should be to reduce the intensity of emissions.
  2. If your emissions increase this will not directly affect your membership, we want to work with you to help bring your reduction plan back on track. If it happens two years in a row, then we will take a good look at your strategy together and question if we have the right approach. If it happens 3 years in a row then we will have an open and honest discussion about it and agree the best way forward. Depending on the circumstances this may involve a temporary suspension of your certification to ensure the integrity of the programme for all members. 

At all times our goal is to work constructively with you to help your achieve year on year carbon reduction in line with the global goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C. The consequences of not doing so are too important for any other approach.

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


* Your "baseline year" is normally the year of your first carbon footprint calculation. It is the year we compare all future calculations to.

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