Net zero

Our net zero journey aligns with the ambition agreed during the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement, of limiting warming to less than 2 degrees. Modelling places our current target in line with 1.6 degrees.

Our ambition

We will have a net zero carbon business by 2050. This target will be periodically reviewed and brought forward if possible.
 

Our commitments

We will:

  • Reduce the emissions associated with our business operations;
  • work with our suppliers and other partners to encourage the reduction of emissions across our value chain;
  • do our part in meeting the ambitions and commitments set out within the Paris Agreement; and address both the physical and transitional risks and opportunities associated with climate change for our business through appropriate mitigation and adaptation.

Over the next five years, we will focus on efficiency across our fleet and our property estate and decarbonising the fuels that we use.

Case study: Carbon neutral

Construction of Royal Mail’s second parcel hub is underway in the Midlands, UK. Scheduled for launch in 2023, the 840,000 square-foot facility will have capacity to process over one million parcels per day. We have been working with the developer and contractor to ensure that the building shell and fitout will be carbon neutral once built. We will compensate for the unavoidable carbon through a scheme to preserve rainforest, biodiversity and local communities in South America.

Read more about our Midlands parcel hub

Royal Mail Midlands Parcel Hub

Our progress

In FY2020-21, the Royal Mail UK carbon footprint increased by 5.8% compared with the previous year. This is largely due to the increased volumes, but also as a result of operational measures required during the pandemic. On a normalised basis, these emissions decreased by 6.9% per £1 million of revenue last year. GLS increased by 0.3% compared with the previous year.

In 2020-21 the average parcel generated. 208g CO2e per parcel.

Our Group carbon emissions and energy consumption performance for FY2020-21 and historical data is provided in our 2021 Non-Financial Data Pack which can be found here.

Efficiency management of our fleet is essential as our parcel operations grow. We are committed to taking action to reduce our emissions and improve air quality in the communities in which we operate. We are progressively moving to low emission and alternative fuel vehicles and working towards zero tailpipe emissions. Nearly two-thirds of our emissions stem from our vehicles and transport. Improving our fleet fuel efficiency is therefore a key part of delivering our carbon reduction targets.

During FY2020-21 fuel used in our UK fleet increased by 14.7%, resulting in a 9.3% increase in associated emissions. This was due to additional vehicles hired and increased use of our delivery vehicles as a result of volume increases and changes to operations as a result of the pandemic. Additionally, our larger trunking fleet saw increased mileage due to the increase in parcel volumes. In order to improve our fleet efficiency and reduce our environmental impact we are currently focused on three key areas:

 

1. Improvements in fuel efficiency through behaviour and driving styles

We use telemetry to influence driver behaviour and encourage more fuel-efficient and safer driving styles. We also use this data to inform our driver training. Telemetry has been shown to reduce idling times by around 5%, both saving fuel and reducing our emissions. Since 2019 we have invested £3.6 million in telemetry devices, with the system now installed on 78% of our UK-based light commercial vehicles and in 81% of our entire fleet. Over the last year, telemetry has helped us save approximately 565,000 litres of diesel, equating to 1,440 tonnes of CO2e across our delivery and collection vehicles.

 

2. Trialling and deploying alternative fuel, advanced technology and new vehicle/delivery concepts

The Royal Mail Fleet Engineering Team are exploring the use of solar technology to improve fuel efficiency and reduce vehicle maintenance costs. Solar panels fitted to vans and HGV trailers charge vehicle batteries to drive the alternator – instead of the engine. In addition to the reduction in fuel consumption, we have seen a reduction in trailer breakdowns caused by flat batteries and deck failure for those fitted with the technology. To date, 10 trucks, 178 trailers and one van have been fitted with the solar panel technology and a further 258 are on order.

 

3. Ensuring an efficient transport network through the use of cutting-edge routing technology and capacity maximisation

We maximise capacity by loading mail items as efficiently as possible into our vans and HGV trailers. Using doubledeck trailers delivers a 4% fuel efficiency improvement when compared to single-deck trailers whilst also providing a greater load capacity. In the UK, we continue to replace single-deck trailers with double- deck models. In 2020-21 we introduced 374 double-deck trailers to our HGV fleet, bringing our total to 1,644, representing 55% of our HGV trailers.

Within GLS, 10 long trucks were introduced from the Dutch hub in Utrecht. Due to the significantly higher loading capacity of these vehicles, a distance of 18,000 km can be saved every month.

We maintain a large property portfolio with buildings ranging in size, age and use. Climate change, legislation and stakeholder expectations as well as uncertainty around the future of energy prices and energy demand mean that energy management is a key priority for us. In the UK, energy used to operate our buildings this year made up approximately 23% of our total carbon footprint. Overall, our emissions from buildings increased by 1%. Our total electricity consumption decreased by 1.2%, and our gas consumption increased by 8.1%.

The changes in consumption this year were due to a number of factors. Our operational sites were open for longer, with many buildings operating with altered heating and ventilation regimes to address health and safety measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Across our UK property estate, we power our buildings with electricity that is fully backed by low carbon generation. This includes nuclear generation, which is considered a low carbon source of energy compared with fossil fuel equivalents. In addition, we have solar panels installed at seven of our sites. Solar panels at our Chelmsford Mail Centre generated 87,440 kWh last year. We continue to look for opportunities for self-generation across our estate.

In 2019-20, we developed the UK property energy strategy to support the delivery of the Royal Mail net zero ambition. As part of this, we implemented energy performance optimisation trials at our Manchester Mail Centre and Princess Royal Regional Distribution Centre sites. The trials, which included the adjustment of boiler operation times and other building management system settings, delivered carbon savings of 61tCO2e over a four-month period. We are currently seeking to roll an optimisation contract out over 230 of our largest and highest energy consuming sites. We continue to review and implement short-term payback initiatives identified during the Energy Savings Opportunities Scheme (ESOS) audits. One key area includes the investment of £3.62 million to replace 81 gas boilers across 55 sites with more efficient systems. We have also continued to roll out the environmental reporting system, Greenstone, which enables colleagues to view the energy, waste and water
performance on their sites.

GLS continues to install solar panels on new sites across the GLS operations, including the new European Eco Hub in Essen, Germany. The site is powered by photovoltaic systems with battery storage. In addition the site has emission-free cooling and heating systems installed. To support biodiversity, the site incorporates a 1,800m2 green roof and biotope for protected species including newts, frogs and toads. The facility will serve as a blueprint for future GLS sites. Furthermore, the change to LED lighting is taking place in many countries. All GLS locations in Germany (more than 70) are powered via the purchase of 100% renewable electricity.