Climate change

Our approach
Climate change is the main environmental issue for WPP.

In addition to the environmental benefits, reducing our carbon footprint helps us to reduce costs, as well as recruit and retain environmentally-aware talent.

Our climate change strategy helps us win work with business and public sector clients looking for suppliers with solid environmental credentials. Taking action to shrink our own carbon footprint enhances our credibility as marketing and communications advisors on climate change.

Our strategy is to reduce our carbon emissions by:
  • Improving the energy efficiency of our buildings and IT;
  • Reducing non-essential flights by promoting videoconferencing and other collaboration tools; and offsetting carbon emissions (equivalent to those from business air travel) by supporting renewable energy generation in faster-growing economies;
  • Purchasing renewable electricity where available.
Our target is to reduce carbon emissions per person to 1.8 tonnes by 2020m a 47% reduction on our 2006 baseline (3.39 tonnes of CO2)

We believe a carbon intensity target is most appropriate for WPP, as Group headcount is closely linked to levels of business activity. Our business evolves continually through acquisitions and disposals. The intensity measure allows us to reflect this without needing to adjust our baseline.

We report our greenhouse gas emissions to the Carbon disclosure Project (CDP), a collaboration of institutional investors. To read our latest submission visit

What we're doing

Quick wins:
These are measures that IT, procurement and real estate managers across the Group are implementing to bring carbon savings at no or little capital cost. These measures range from simple actions, such as ensuring that lights are switched off, to more complex measures like targeting high-energy-use areas in the office. In order to track progress a climate checklist is distributed to all WPP offices worldwide.

Better information and feedback:
We aim to empower our operating companies with better information and tools for managing their carbon emissions. For instance, we produce an individual carbon footprint report for every company annually, which is distributed to the operating company CEO.

Energy and travel emissions reduction:
We are tackling our carbon footprint with a range of initiatives that span travel and energy consumption.

Carbon offsetting:
Since 2006, we have offset a large proportion of our unavoidable carbon emissions by investing in renewable energy projects. From 2010, we decided to only offset emissions from our business air travel, so that we can focus our investment on improving energy efficiency. For more details see carbon offsetting.

Our performance

For a full summary of our progress in these areas, read our latest Sustainability Report. The tables below provide key performance data on our carbon footprint since 2006:

WPP’s carbon emissions breakdown (in tonnes of CO2e)
Emission source2013201220112010Base year (2006)
Scope 1 - Fuel used to heat WPP offices11,3059,8409,7149,9672,628
Scope 2 - Total purchased electricity157,471164,212152,968149,055149,728
Scope 3 - Air travel and other estimated impacts132,382133,034137,121119,690116,825
Total gross (excluding carbon reduction of renewable electricity)301,158307,086299,803278,712269,181
Carbon reduction of purchased renewable electricity-21,299-23,765-22,572-23,028-
Total net (including carbon reduction of renewable electricity)279,859283,321277,231255,684269,181
Percentage change from 2006 (net)4%5%3%-5%-

WPP’s carbon intensity (in tonnes of CO2e)
Intensity metric2013201220112010Base year (2006)
Tonnes per employee (net)2.352.452.442.463.39
Percentage change from 2006-31%-28%-28%27%-
Tonnes per £m of revenue (net)25.427.3127.6627.445.56
Percentage change from 2006-44%-40%-39%-40%

Note to tables:
Our carbon data covers the year ended 31 December 2013 in line with the Group’s financial reporting period. Data has been prepared in accordance with the World Resource Institute (WRI) and World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) Greenhouse Gas Protocol: A Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard, Revised Edition (the GHG Protocol).

All greenhouse gases emissions figures are in metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e). They include three of the six greenhouse gases covered by the Kyoto Protocol - carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O). Perfluorocarbons (PFCs), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) emissions have been omitted from our reporting as they are not a material source of greenhouse gases for WPP.

Emissions data is included for all operations for which WPP and its subsidiaries have operational control. Associate companies are excluded.

When calculating our carbon footprint, we rate purchased renewable electricity as zero emissions. For full transparency, we also disclose total electricity purchased at grid average carbon intensity.

Our carbon data is reviewed and assured by Bureau Veritas, an independent assurance provider. Read the full carbon emissions statement 2013 in our Sustainability Report.

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For more information see the latest Sustainability report