Carbon emissions

Emissions from our operations include those arising from energy and transport, as well as emissions arising from treatment of our water and wastewater (termed process emissions). We're monitoring and reporting our operational emissions and are taking steps to reduce them to Net Zero by 2030.

We publish our annual emissions figures here (last updated July 2021).

Operational greenhouse gas emissions

The bar chart below shows our overall yearly emissions (financial year, April–March) across all of our offices and operational sites in Kent, Sussex, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

The methodology for reporting meets Defra guidance and is calculated using the Water Industry Carbon Accounting Workbook developed by UKWIR. This method reflects the ‘location based accounting’ approach. This uses the average carbon intensity of electricity supplied via the National Grid and doesn't reflect the renewable power that we purchase.

We express our results as ‘tonnes or kilotonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent’.  We include additional greenhouse gases in our accounting (methane and nitrous oxide) and convert these to the mass of carbon dioxide that would have the equivalent impact. This is based on their global warming potential (i.e. potency).

Net operational greenhouse gas emissions*

*Calculated using location based accounting methodology

Our region is experiencing increased population growth.  The chart below shows our annual emissions per customer served for the last six financial years.

With a rising population in the South East and increased treatment standards, reducing emissions is challenging. Despite these factors, our emissions have decreased year-on-year.

This has primarily been possible due to the decarbonisation of the national grid, which has a reduced reliance on fossil fuels. In addition, we have invested in renewable energy to proactively reduce our emissions including the installation of solar panels to help power our treatment works.

Market based accounting

All our reported carbon emissions data is calculated using the water sector’s Carbon Accounting Workbook (CAW), which is updated annually.

From 2019, the CAW was enhanced in order to calculate the carbon benefit from the renewable grid electricity we purchase. This type of reporting, which includes our green energy purchases, is termed ‘market based accounting’. Prior to this, we undertook only ‘location based accounting’, which employed the UK grid average emissions values to calculate the emissions associated with our purchased grid electricity.

Our net zero 2030 commitment requires market-based reporting, detailing the carbon emissions associated our electricity purchase contracts.

We have taken the opportunity to maintain our historic location based reporting (graphs above), but also have provided a broader view, which reflects our market based accounting. The table below is based on Ofwat’s consultation released in May 2021 (Table 2 page 12).

Focus Water (tCO2e) Wastewater (tCO2e)
Scope 1 emissions
Direct emissions from burning of fossil fuels 153 1,475
Process and fugitive emissions 1,163 57,102
Transport: Company owned or leased vehicles 1,134 2,106
Total Scope One emissions 2,450 60,683
Total Scope One emissions by GHG type: 63,133
CO2 as CO2e 4,769
CH4 as CO2e 30,034
N2O as CO2e 28,330
Scope 2 emissions
Grid electricity used by company (Location Based Method) 32,733 58,694
Scope 3 emissions
Business travel on public transport and private vehicles used for company business 61 114
Outsourced activities 1,503 8,936
Purchased electricity – Transmission and Distribution 2,815 5,048
Total Scope Three emissions 4,379 14,097
Total Scope Three emissions by GHG type:
CO2 as CO2e 16,948
CH4 as CO2e 993
N2O as CO2e 528
Gross operational emissions (Scope 1, 2 and 3)
By area (water and wastewater) 39,562 133,474
Overall total 173,036
Exported renewables (generated onsite and exported) 2,883
Emissions reduction from purchased renewable energy (market-based carbon accounting benefit) 81,926
Total net operational emissions 91,152
Net Zero Commitment

We have committed to support industry body Water UK’s Net Zero commitment – to become carbon neutral by 2030. To achieve this, we'll reduce and mitigate our emissions and work with our partners to find sustainable solutions. Our Net Zero Plan sets out our journey towards zero carbon.

How we're responding to climate change

Find out more about the potential impact of climate change on our region and what we’re doing in response.