Working from home
One of Britain’s biggest money managers has asked staff to monitor their carbon footprint while working from home as part of a new green energy drive.
Standard Life Aberdeen (SLA), soon to rebrand as Abrdn, is giving employees access to an app that can measure and reduce their carbon footprint after finding that home working now generates 55pc of the company’s emissions.
The company will use the app, Pawprint, to gather anonymised data on staff energy use – and has told workers they can download a consumer version to track their own consumption.
SLA said: “The nature of work has changed and working from home more is likely to be a lasting feature. While we’ve worked hard to make our offices more efficient, people’s homes generally are less so.
“We have partnered with Pawprint to develop our understanding of these emissions and start to find ways to reduce them.”
The app, to be launched later this year, will provide SLA with anonymous data to help it reduce the firm’s carbon output as it prepares for an era where remote working is commonplace.
The FTSE 100 company said: “[After] informing people of their biggest carbon impacts, the app then challenges them to make either large or small changes to address this.”
It highlights the difficulties major employers could face in achieving their environmental targets as the pandemic upends the way white-collar staff work.
SLA’s plans could also create concerns that companies are playing an overly active role in employees’ home lives as the line between home and work becomes blurred.
The business, which employs about 6,000 staff globally, said it plans to halve its operational emissions by 2025. It offsets 110pc of its carbon footprint.
Companies offset their emissions by buying carbon credits – each equivalent to one tonne of carbon dioxide – that fund climate projects such as tree-planting, waste disposal schemes and emerging climate technologies.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak wants to make the Square Mile a global hub for trading voluntary carbon offsets. However, critics argue that companies should focus on curbing emissions altogether rather than offsetting.
Stephen Bird, the chief executive, said: “ESG [environmental, social and corporate governance] is not a hygiene factor and it is not a bolt-on activity, we all have a responsibility to constantly analyse our own progress and ambition.
“We also know that commitments need to be more than words. We need to be held to account on both our plans and progress – through clear and specific targets, and transparent and credible reporting.”
It comes after SLA invited mockery last month by announcing plans to rebrand as Abrdn – pronounced Aberdeen.
Bosses said they were seeking to modernise the business and end confusion after selling the Standard Life brand to insurer Phoenix in February.
SLA has struggled to keep investors onside since it was formed in a £11bn merger in 2017 between Aberdeen Asset Management and rival Standard Life, with shares tumbling by nearly a third since the deal was finalised.
It was hit by rocky markets when Covid struck, and cut its dividend by a third in March after annual pre-tax profits tumbled by 17pc.
Shares rose 0.5pc to 269.3p on Tuesday, valuing the company at £5.8bn.