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Our strategy

We set our first climate change target in 2007 – to cut our CO2 emissions by 20% by 2010 from a 2006 baseline. In 2009 the WPP Board approved a tough new climate strategy taking us to 2020. Our new targets are to:

  • Reduce CO2 emissions by 40% by 2020 from 2006 levels.
  • Reduce per head CO2 emissions to 1.2 tonnes by 2020.

The first target is aligned with the advice of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which states that developed countries must cut their CO2 emissions by 40% by 2020. Our second is a carbon intensity target, introduced to help all our people understand their personal impact at work and be motivated to try to reduce it. We also set interim targets for 2012 and 2015 so that we can monitor our progress.

Climate change targets

  2010 2012 2015 2020
Absolute CO2 reduction from a 2006 baseline 20% 25% 30% 40%
Carbon intensity (per head CO2 emissions) 2 tonnes 1.8 tonnes 1.6 tonnes 1.2 tonnes

Our climate strategy focuses on three areas:

  • Improving energy efficiency in our buildings and IT.
  • Reducing non-essential flights.
  • Purchasing renewable electricity where available.

Since 2006 we have offset a large proportion of our remaining emissions by investing in renewable energy projects. From 2010 we will only offset emissions from flights, so that we can focus our investment on improving energy efficiency.

We encourage our companies to take ownership of energy management. For example, we produce individual carbon footprints for every operating company. These are distributed to operating company CEOs and help our businesses to monitor their progress.

Our performance

WPP’s carbon footprint in 2009 was 252,111 tonnes of CO2, an increase of 4% compared with 2008. This reflects changes in our business, particularly our acquisition of TNS. When our carbon footprint data is adjusted to take account of acquisitions and disposals, the underlying trend was a 3% reduction in 2009 compared with 2008.

We have reduced CO2 emissions by 10% on 2006 levels, when our baseline is adjusted to take account of acquisitions and disposals.

In 2009, CO2 emissions per person remained constant at around 2.55 tonnes per person (2.54 tonnes in 2008). Since 2006 we have reduced emissions per person by around 21%.

Office energy use and business air travel account for the majority of our carbon footprint, representing 56% and 29% respectively. In 2009, we used 340,647 megawatt hours of energy in our offices, resulting in emissions of 143,154 tonnes of CO2.

In 2009, we offset 130,000 tonnes of CO2 through support for renewable energy projects.

We report our greenhouse gas emissions to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), a collaboration of institutional investors, and participate in the CDP’s Supply Chain Leadership Collaboration.

WPP's carbon footprint 2006-09
Carbon intensity

WPP’s carbon footprint (rating renewable energy as zero emissions)

CO2 emissions (tonnes)
  2006 2007 2008 2009
Office energy use* 144,354 124,335 121,572 143,154
Air travel 81,733 92,269 89,500 76,073
Other (includes unmeasured impacts, e.g. couriers and taxis) 33,913 32,491 31,661 32,884
Total 260,000 249,095 242,733 252,111

WPP’s carbon footprint (renewable energy rated as normal grid electricity)

CO2 emissions (tonnes)
  2006 2007 2008 2009
CO2 (tonnes)* 260,000 254,888 265,760 279,184

WPP’s office energy use

Energy use (megawatt hours)
  2006 2007 2008 2009
Energy use (mWh)* 297,406 272,545 284,930 340,647
This year, 2007 and 2008 data for office energy use and CO2 was revised upwards as a result of improvements to our data collection system and analysis.

About our data

We calculate office energy consumption using data collected through our financial reporting system. We calculate the amount of air travel using a combination of data provided by an external provider as part of our airline procurement process and data collected through our financial reporting system. We add an additional 15% to our CO2 footprint to account for unmeasured impacts such as couriers and taxis.

When calculating our carbon footprint we rate renewable energy as zero emissions. UK government guidelines state that emissions from renewable energy should be calculated using the same conversion factors as conventional grid energy, rather than rated as zero emissions. If the renewable energy we purchase globally is rated using the same emissions factors as conventional grid energy, our total carbon footprint in 2009 was 279,184 tonnes of CO2.

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