Climate change experts warn government plans to reduce carbon emissions will not engage staff

Climate change experts have warned that the latest government plans to reduce carbon emissions will not engage staff as well as schemes already being used by employers.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has joined with government-funded independent body the Carbon Trust and BSI British Standards to develop a system for measuring the greenhouse gases in organisations’ products, services and supply chains.

The aim of the Publicly Available Specification (PAS) is to help businesses spot opportunities where they can significantly reduce carbon emissions.

But environmental charity Earthwatch, which is working with HSBC to embed green issues into the heart of its banking business, said there was a risk the government method would have little effect.

Tom Burstow, head of the HSBC climate change programme at Earthwatch, told Personnel Today: “There is a danger that the universal standard for measuring carbon emissions will stay in the boardroom, and not be implemented downwards throughout organisations.

“It is vital that you engage the hearts and minds of staff to tell them why their company wants them to take climate change seriously.”

Burstow added that many organisations, including HSBC, already measured their carbon emissions and were ahead of the government in taking steps to become greener.

He said: “We’re ahead of the game, making sure each employee knows why climate change matters and why doing little things in the office helps. The PAS is quite jargony. While a roadmap may result in action, it can mean people switch off.”

HSBC’s five-year employee engagement programme with Earthwatch, launched last week, includes sending 25,000 employees to work on environmental projects globally to learn more about the impact of climate change.

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