In November 2019, Fit for the Future held a panel discussion at our annual conference, addressing the challenge of reaching carbon net zero and what it might like look for our members to achieve this. Since then, members from across the network have been collaborating, sharing and delivering on net zero ambitions. We wanted to showcase some of this work and give members an insight into the approach of two very different organisations, which are facing a very similar challenge.


Zach Lewis, National Low Carbon Advisor for the National Trust, and Alex Pitman, Carbon and Energy Performance Manager for The Cooperative Group this week led an online event entitled ‘Unpicking Net Zero’. They shared their experiences of mapping out a plan to achieve net zero, the roadmap for getting there, and the challenges and unanswered questions they are working through as organisations.


The Cooperative Group - cutting emissions and working with suppliers

Alex began the meeting by highlighting The Cooperative Group’s work and successes to date. They have already achieved a 50% cut in direct emissions and are aiming to cut that again by 2025. They have purchased green electricity since 2005 and are now looking at how they can tackle the indirect – Scope 3 – emissions in their supply chain. They have set an initial 11% cut in Scope 3 emissions. These emissions are at least ten times as large as their direct, operational emissions so this is going to be enormously challenging and will take collaboration and partnerships with suppliers in order to achieve change.


The National Trust - understanding Scope 3 and empowering staff

Zach Lewis followed on from Alex, and went into detail about the National Trust’s approach to net zero. In January 2020, the Director General of the National Trust, Hilary McGrady, announced that the National Trust had set a 2030 target. This is in line with a 1.5 degree warming scenario. They have completed a full inventory of their carbon emissions and sequestration, which identifies agriculture, investments, the let estate and the goods and services they sell as key ‘emitters’. Again, these all fall within Scope 3. The National Trust also recognise that engaging supporters is a huge opportunity; not only to affect the organisation’s own emissions, but also to influence and bring the public on this journey with them.

The National Trust is now working to answer some challenging questions – including the quantification and qualification of nature-based offsets, setting KPIs that drive change and engage staff, and putting effective data management in place that create the levers needed to empower staff. With these tools in place, the task of becoming net zero in the next ten years becomes increasingly possible.



We had an insightful Q&A session with the presenters and input from our delegates, covering Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR), calculating and publishing carbon emissions, and science-based targets. To listen to the presentations again, and to access the Q&A notes, log in to our Members’ Area.


Take part

If you are involved in managing carbon and energy for your organisation, you might find it helpful to attend our virtual special interest group on 3rd November; register here or contact us to find out more about joining the network.