Oxfam Rises to the Carbon Reduction Challenge


johanna gosling

Network members, Oxfam Great Britain, are undertaking extensive energy reduction work at their UK shops. To find out more about it, we caught up with Johanna Gosling, manager of Oxfam’s internal programme for environmental sustainability in UK operations.


Tackling climate change is a vital part of Oxfam’s work to fight poverty and so it makes sense that reducing the environmental impact of our activities should be a priority. Not only is it crucial from an environmental perspective but it will also help us become more resilient to increasing energy prices and constrained resources.

So in 2012, we set ourselves ambitious but realistic carbon reduction targets to be achieved by 2020. As part of this process, we focused our attention on the areas of our work that contribute most towards overall emissions. Electricity use makes up nearly two thirds of our UK based operations, and 80% of this is being used in our shops. So, we honed in on this, and the steps we could take to decrease energy use. At the same time, we set a 30% reduction target to be achieved by 2020.

Tackling the challenges

One of the main challenges is that nearly all of our shops are leased, with most properties being older and poorly insulated. Plans were already afoot to redesign our shops in a bid to increase sales, so this represented the perfect opportunity for us to address electricity use and improve energy efficiency. During the redesign process we were able to install measures such as LED lighting, timers and more efficient heating systems. The project was piloted in twenty shops.

Clarkston shop 2 edit

Fit for Purpose

We continue our energy saving work in Fit for Purpose, which has replaced our initial redesign programme and aims to ensure that Oxfam’s shops are equipped to operate efficiently and do not become a barrier to attracting new supporters every day. Our retail activities fund our programmes across the world and we expect that Fit for Purpose will support our fundraising work by increasing sales by 6%.

Clarkston shop edit

Real Savings 

Early data from our pilot work suggests an average electricity consumption saving of 18% per shop with some reducing their consumption by up to 35%. This is great news, but the range also shows that behaviour change is just as important as new equipment- if energy use isn’t controlled properly then the impact won’t be as significant. Behaviour change will therefore be the focus of our next steps in the shop project.

We are working with our energy agent to better understand consumption and carry out audits to determine the measures that would have the most impact. We are also finalising our plans to roll out Automatic Meter Reading  monitors nation-wide, and setting aside more resources for energy management.


You can read more Fit for the Future Network members’ sustainability work on our news pages or contact us if you have a story you would like to share