Suppliers bidding for top contracts required to commit to net zero by 2050

New guidelines will ask companies to disclose emissions stemming from indirect factors such as routes to market and staff commuting
Image: annca via Pixabay

By Sam Trendall

07 Oct 2021

Businesses bidding for the most valuable government contracts are now required to commit to net zero emissions by 2050.

In addition to setting out a carbon reduction plan, new rules introduced last week by the Cabinet Office also demand that potential suppliers provide information on a wider range of emissions. This will include some so-called scope 3 emissions, a category which goes beyond a company’s direct use of vehicles and energy and encompasses the carbon footprint caused by factors such as business travel, staff commuting, distribution routes, and emissions caused by products after sale.

The government claimed that these emissions typically “represent a significant proportion of an organisation’s carbon footprint”.

“Understanding, reporting and reducing these emissions will play a substantial role in decarbonising governments supply chain, and the UK economy as a whole,” it added.

Tender processes for all contracts worth more than £5m a year will be subject to the new procurement guidelines, which must be observed by all central government departments, as well as executive agencies and non-departmental public bodies.

Cabinet Office minister Steve Barclay said: “These new rules show our bold and ambitious agenda to achieve net zero by 2050, protecting ourselves and future generations. Government spends £290bn a year on procurement and it’s right that we use this spending power to green the economy. Working arm-in-arm with business, we are taking giant strides to ensure this country is building back greener and tackling climate change.”

Net zero is commonly defined as the achievement of a state in which the volume of greenhouse gas emissions is no greater than the comparable carbon being removed from the atmosphere. The 2050 target being set for suppliers to meet this objective is the same as the UK government’s own deadline for the country as a whole to achieve net zero.

Sam Trendall is editor of CSW's sister title PublicTechnology, where this article first appeared

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