In January 2021, Ethical Consumer viewed a completed questionnaire that had been returned by OVO Energy. The questionnaire included links to the company's Plan Zero (2019) and included a progress update for 2018/19 against the targets in the report.
Ethical Consumer was looking for the following:
1. For the company to discuss its areas of climate impact, and to discuss plausible ways it has cut them in the past, and ways that it will cut them in the future.
For the company to not be involved in any particularly damaging projects like tar sands, oil or aviation, to not be subject to damning secondary criticism regarding it’s climate actions, and to have relevant sector-specific climate policies in place.
The questionnaire discussed the company's impacts through its energy supply, and actions it was taking to address this: for example, removing coal from its energy supply in 2015, increasing the percentage of energy backed by PPAs (as opposed it REGOs). It also discussed moving towards a electric vehicle fleet.
All OVO tariffs were renewable. The company was considered to be demonstrating ways in which it had cut and would continue to cut emissions, and was not considered to be involved in any particularly damaging climate actions.
2. For the company to report annually on its scope 1&2 greenhouse gas emissions (direct emissions by the company), and,
3. to go some way towards reporting on its scope 3 emissions (emissions from the supply chain, investments and sold products).
The Plan Zero reported on its scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions for 2018. It stated: "Scope 3 emissions are all indirect emissions (not included in Scope 2) that occur in the value chain, which in this case is the emissions associated with the provision of electricity and gas, such as transport and distribution losses." Its 2019 Accounts gave figures scope 1&2 emissions for 2019. However, it did not appear to give scope 3 figures.
Ethical Consumer expected companies to report annually, so OVO's scope 3 figures from 2018 were considered out of date. The company confirmed via email, "We're currently in the process of adjusting the reporting boundary of our carbon footprint to account for the SSE Energy Services acquisition. We hope to provide updated figures in our Plan Zero reporting later this year. Therefore, the data we have provided is the latest available."
4. For the company to have a target to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions in line with international agreements (counted as the equivalent of at least 2.5% cut per year in scope 1&2 emissions), and to not count offsetting towards this target.
The following targets were provided:
- "Net zero carbon emissions from our operations and from the energy we sell to our members by 2030, by achieving absolute emissions reductions in line with science-based targets for Scopes 1, 2 and 3 as a minimum and using greenhouse gas removals for the remainder."
- 50% absolute reduction in scope 1 & 2 emisisons by 2030 from a 2018 baseline
- 50% absolute reudction in scope 3 emissions by 2030 from a 2018 baseline
Although the first target referred to 'greenhouse gas removals', the other two targets did not include offsetting, and were considered valid targets in line with international agreements.
If a company met all of these criteria it would receive a best rating. If it met parts 1&2 (impacts and annual reporting CO2e) it would receive a middle rating. Otherwise it would receive a worst rating.
The company met criteria 1, 2 and 4, but not point 3. The company received Ethical Consumer's middle rating for carbon management and reporting and lost half a mark under Climate Change.