Corporate Responsibility Report
Climate and carbon
Climate change is one of our biggest business challenges. Working to balance business growth with the expectations of a responsible business presents a range of considerations and pressures we need to take into account:
- customers, governments and regulators demand increasingly high environmental standards, specifically in water efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions
- regulation of greenhouse gas emissions and other resources is rising, including new carbon schemes such as the Carbon Reduction Commitment in the UK, and stricter building codes to encourage sustainable construction
- increasing water and energy prices are driving up operational costs
- the environmental impact of the supply chain is coming under closer scrutiny
- changing sea levels and climate patterns are affecting the availability of raw materials for construction, how and where hotels are built, and how guests travel
- guests are under increasing pressure to reduce air travel.
Innovation not offsetting
As a global organisation with operations in many markets we believe our biggest contribution towards cutting greenhouse gas emissions will come from changing our own behaviour. While many businesses choose to mitigate their greenhouse gas emissions through the purchase of voluntary carbon offsets we disagree with the principle that a company can pay others to cut carbon on its behalf. Consequently, we're working to deliver real emission cuts through our IHG Green Engage programme. Our approach is to innovate new and better ways to design, build and run our hotels.
By using resources such as energy and water wisely, minimising waste and conserving ecosystems and biodiversity, and sourcing locally whenever possible we can reduce our contribution towards climate change. In 2012 we established a Sustainability Council to oversee our carbon strategy, replacing our Global Strategy team and Carbon Working group.
The group focuses on:
- ensuring we have legal clarity on regulation
- developing a financial model for business planning on carbon
- creating internal and external awareness and knowledge of regulatory requirements
- developing a shared calendar outlining key CRC milestones
- communicating the results of the first year of the Carbon Reduction Commitment to our hotels through performance tables
- continuing to forge governmental relationships and work with the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) to ensure our business model reflects a changing legislative framework and that the hospitality industry has a say in regulation development.
In 2013 we put additional weight behind our commitment to reducing our contribution to climate change by setting a target to reduce our carbon footprint per occupied room by 12% from 2103 to 2017. This marks a shift from tracking energy to carbon by focusing on the quality of use of IHG Green Engage in our hotels.
One of the reasons we decided to track carbon use is that carbon is a more comprehensive and holistic measurement. Another is that, since incorporating the industry standard carbon methodology we helped to develop in IHG Green Engage, our hotels are now in a position to calculate carbon use. On top of that more and more of our guests, particularly corporate clients, want to know the carbon footprint of a night’s stay in one of our hotels.
Measuring our carbon use through IHG Green Engage allows us to provide that information and demonstrate that we are taking authentic action to make a night with IHG more carbon efficient.
Measuring our emissions
Cornell study and Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative
During 2011 we co-sponsored Cornell University to undertake a study called Developing a Sustainability Measurement Framework for Hotels: Toward an Industry-wide Reporting Structure. The study collected data from a number of hotels from different hotel chains and proposed a framework for developing a standard carbon footprint methodology.
This framework was used in phase 1 of the Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative (HCMI), coordinated by the International Tourism Partnership (ITP) and World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). IHG and the industry's largest hotel groups are active participants in this initiative, and an industry standard carbon metric was introduced in June 2012.
In October 2012 we used this methodology to build a carbon calculator into IHG Green Engage. This enables our hotels to report on the carbon footprint of a night's stay or on a meeting held by a client, giving us a more accurate picture of the progress we are making to reduce our carbon footprint. It will also provide our guests and corporate clients with the carbon insight they are looking for to make informed booking decisions.
Earlier this year we completed the Carbon Disclosure Project submission for the fourth year running and submitted responses for specific corporate clients upon request. We kept a steady score following two years of performance improvement.
The CDP requires us to demonstrate that we have governance processes and structures in place to manage our carbon emissions and the impact of climate change on our hotels; plans to measure, manage and reduce our carbon emissions; are able to disclose our carbon emissions; and that carbon is central to our business strategy.
The average IHG hotel's carbon footprint is 30kg per occupied room.