Mission possible: Ground Control’s quest for net zero
Buoyed by the success of our mission to achieve carbon neutral status, which we reached much earlier than our 2025 target, we have committed to becoming net zero by 2038 – fully 12 years before the government’s deadline of 2050.
This bold and ambitious move is in no small part driven by the commitment of our board – and the personal dedication of CEO Simon Morrish and Director Kim Morrish – to being an ethical business that aims to leave the world in a better place than we found it. This fundamental value is one shared by our employees, the vast majority of whom join Ground Control because it gives them the opportunity to work towards that goal.
- Kim Morrish explains how "Bussines can be the friend of biodiversity"
- Simon Morrish explores "Why electric vehicles hit the spot"
In addition, the science is now saying we are unlikely to be able to prevent temperatures rising by less than 1.5 degrees, so we have to act faster than the legislation and governments are saying. That’s why, in April 2023, we submitted our plans to the Science-Based Targets Initiative, the world-renowned body that helps private sector organisations set emissions reduction targets. And although we are still waiting to have our targets ratified, we are forging ahead because we realise we have much to do if we are to reach our ultimate goal.
We recognise 2038 is still quite a long way away, so we have set ourselves some interim targets that will ensure we keep up the momentum.
- By 2025, all our passenger fleet vehicles will be 100% electric and the same goes for the hand tools we use, where the technology is available. By 2030, we’re aiming to remove all fossil-fuelled vehicles and tools used by our field teams, again where possible and financially viable.
Overall, we’ll be reducing our direct (Scope 1 and 2) emissions by 90% by 2030 and our Scope 3 emissions – those in our value chain – to 42% of their current levels, which is going to be a significant challenge for us.
The scale of our challenge cannot be underestimated. Around 95% of our entire carbon footprint is found within Scope 3. Not only that, we have ambitious growth plans too, meaning we have to balance slashing our carbon emissions with doubling the size of the business. The good news is, everyone is on the same journey and we understand how to work collaboratively both upstream with our customers and downstream with our supply chain to achieve our goals.
We’re also making great progress already, having identified three key areas where reductions can be made: among our field teams, in the products and materials we buy and with the waste we produce.
With our field teams, our focus is mainly on weaning them off petrol and diesel before 2030. So we’re working with them to identify what equipment they need, when is the best time for them to switch and how we can help finance those equipment upgrades. We also recognise they can’t switch everything over to electric because the technology isn’t quite there, but that is changing all the time and we’re trialling new equipment with many of them as and when it becomes available.
In our supply chain, we are looking at the things we buy most and the lower carbon alternatives. It’s a challenge, because a lot of what we buy is led by our customers, so it’s a case of working with them to see if we can change the specifications.
When it comes to waste, it’s about being sustainable and in many cases using it on site. That could involve creating log piles, bug hotels or spaces for local wildlife, but we also need to think about reducing the amount we create or finding alternative uses for it.
As well as working with suppliers and customers, we’ve done a lot internally too. We’ve created a governance structure with a steering group that meets monthly to monitor and report on progress. We have also appointed business-wide net zero leads, who look after their own specific area of focus and drive each division’s net zero journey.
And as the saying goes, if you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it. So we are making sure we have the right IT infrastructure in place to help us gather data and turn it into something we can analyse, scrutinise and report on to our customers and suppliers to drive further innovation and change.
Net zero isn’t just important to the continuation of our business. It’s critical to the future of the planet. We’re lucky at Ground Control to have a strong culture powered by people's passion for nature, the environment and our mission to protect it. And we’re relishing the challenge of delivering on our ambitious but, we believe, achievable net zero goals.