In July 2021, Ethical Consumer viewed the website of Bookshop.org looking for information on what the company was doing to tackle climate change. In August 2021, Ethical Consumer received a completed questionnaire from Bookshop.org which contained some information regarding its carbon management practices. 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 its climate actions, and to have relevant sector-specific climate policies in place.
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).
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.
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.
Bookshop.org did not provide any information, reporting or policies regarding its climate-related impacts or in relation to its carbon management on its website. It did, however, provide some information within its completed questionnaire.
1. Bookshop.org did not mention ways it had cut its carbon emissions in the past. In the future, however, the company stated that “both the US and the UK entities are actively working to become carbon neutral. The UK is working with Carbon Neutral Britain and the US is working with Climate Neutral”.
2 & 3. Regarding its scope 2 and scope 3 emissions, the company stated in the questionnaire that the company did report all carbon emissions that it was responsible for, up to and including scope 3. No reports were made available to Ethical Consumer, however.
4. Bookshop.org stated in its questionnaire response that both Bookshop.org UK and US “plan to offset 100% of their respective emissions by the end of 2021”.
Overall, the company did not sufficiently provide discussion of its areas of climate impact, nor did it discuss plausible ways it has cut them in the past or will in the future. Whilst Bookshop.org did state that it reported all its carbon emissions up to scope 3, this was not currently publicly available. Lastly, the company’s future greenhouse gas emissions target appeared to depend on offsets.
Bookshop.org therefore received a worst rating for carbon management and reporting and lost a whole mark under Climate Change.