The WECC challenges public, private and third sector organisations across the region to commit to making annual cuts in emissions to reduce their carbon footprint by at least 10% over the four years to 2012.

The West of England Carbon Challenge will help organisations reach this target by providing strategic and practical advice and support, putting them firmly on track to comply with current and future carbon reduction legislation. It will also host regular events for members and host annual awards to celebrate members’ success.

Why are we doing it?

Scientists agree on the scale of reductions needed to prevent catastrophic climate change and the UK government has set a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 relative to a 1990 baseline. In December 2008 the Committee on Climate Change proposed a reduction of 34% by 2020 relative to 1990 (21% relative to 2005). In April's Budget, the government made this target legally binding.

Legislation to create a low-carbon economy is already in place and more is on the horizon – primarily the Carbon Reduction Commitment, which comes into force in 2010.

Some 4,000 to 5,000 organisations will be affected by the CRC, which introduces a cap and trade system to encourage large emitters in non-energy intensive sectors to make significant cuts. They include large supermarket chains, hotel groups, local authorities, and primary care trusts – any organisation with a total annual electricity bill of around £500,000 or more.

The West of England Carbon Challenge sets out to help organisations meet regulatory requirements like the CRC, prepare themselves for a low-carbon future, and play their part in the battle to avoid climate change.

Signing up to the Carbon Challenge offers organisations:

  • access to cutting edge, strategic thinking on approaches to carbon reduction, making members well-placed to manage long term risks and respond to upcoming legislation;
  • the opportunity to make savings in energy, waste and money, based on rigorous assessment of their own carbon usage; and
  • the opportunity to position themselves as pioneers in our emerging low-carbon economy.

How does it work?

Any organisation can join the West of England Carbon Challenge for free, provided they commit to making 10% CO2 reductions over four years and have one or more sites in any of these four local authority areas: Bristol, Bath and North-East Somerset, North Somerset or South Gloucestershire.

Members need to record monthly data on their site energy usage in their secure account on the Carbon Challenge website. If they have data from 2008 or earlier, this will be used as a baseline.

After a 12 month period, we work out the carbon emissions and assess whether overall emissions have gone down or up. We will be hosting annual awards to celebrate members’ success.

What has it achieved?

The Challenge was launched in Bristol on 1st May 2009 by Forum for the Future Founding Director Jonathon Porritt. It is delivered by the Forum, in partnership with the Centre for Sustainable Energy, GWE Business West and Business in the Community.

Founder members and sponsors include: Capgemini, Halcrow, the University of the West of England, Sustain IT Solutions, Arup, the South West Regional Development Agency, Buro Happold and the Homes and Communities Agency (South West).

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