In July 2021, Ethical Consumer viewed the website of Waterstones looking for information on what the company was doing to tackle climate change. 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.
1.Ethical Consumer was unable to find any information relating to the carbon management of Waterstones on its website. Ethical Consumer then viewed the annual accounts of Waterstones on Companies House which stated that “disclosures relating to energy and carbon emissions as required by The Companies (Director’s Report) and Limited Liability Partnerships (Energy and Carbon Report) Regulations 2018 are included within Book Retail Bidco Limited’s financial statements.”
Ethical Consumer then viewed the financial statements of Book Retail Bidco Limited’s (BRBL) on Companies House. BRBL outlined its climate impact in relation to the carbon emissions associated with the operation of offices, retail stores, warehouses and distribution sites, plus transport; company-owned, leased and private vehicles used for business travel. The company also outlined ways it had been making reductions in the past through a series of energy efficiency initiatives with “significant investment by the business”, including the “progressed rollout of LED lighting across stores” and “invested in the replacement of older, less efficient heating”. The company did not make any statements about cutting its emissions in the future. The company also failed to report or make any reference to its carbon emissions or climate-related impacts relating to the books themselves.
2.The company reported its scope 1 & 2 emissions in tonnes of co2 equivalent for the period May 2019 to April 2020 which referred to “combustion of fuels to heat buildings and the use of fuel in company owned vehicles” and indirect emissions- “purchased electricity”.
3.It also mentioned its scope 3 emissions for “indirect emissions- private vehicles used for business travel”, but did not mention its emissions for tier 1 suppliers.
4. Waterstones did not provide any quantified future targets to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions in the future.
Overall, Waterstones failed to sufficiently meet point 1 as the company did not state ways that it plans to cut its carbon emissions in the future. The company therefore received Ethical Consumer’s worst rating for carbon management and reporting and lost a whole mark under Climate Change.