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Survey: Should outsourced CO2 count?

I’ve been flicking through a pile of press releases this morning. Amid the mass of ones for ‘green’ loo roll that’s now softer (yes, that actually gets sent to a business publication), there was one that stood out.

A survey has been conducted by Fujitsu and looks at outsourced carbon, arguing that it shouldn’t count. Apparently, 76 of the 100 CIOs questioned all believed it should.

It looks as if only one question with two outcomes was asked – it’s a 76 / 24 split. But, it does raise an interesting question – should outsourced activity count towards your company’s carbon footprint?

A good example is China. The country is improving greatly but is still producing a swathe of pollution so we can have mp3 players and PCs etc. Should an iPod’s pollution be counted as Apple’s or China’s?

Emily Farnworth is the Climate Group’s director of corporate engagement. She commented:

“Companies that calculate and report on carbon emissions from outsourced products and services are to be commended for recognising the responsibility they have beyond their own operations.  However, clarity on where emissions come from is also important.

“Other industry sectors need to deal with this same issue, for example some retailers go as far as also calculating their customers emissions.  Understanding where carbon reductions can be made across the whole value chain should be the focus at this stage.  When we are in a position to worry about double counting, we will know we have reached a sophisticated level of carbon accounting and management.”

To answer this, Greenbang is handing the microphone to its readers. Please could you take 10 seconds to answer the single question:

Click here to take the survey.

Will an organisation select the most environmentally friendly company to outsource its business to if this takes away its environmental responsibility?


  • Peter Martin
    Posted August 11, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    I also believe the answer should be ‘both’. Many companies are already counting carbon up and down the supply chain. Examples can be found by looking at ‘Scope 3’ in the reports of the Carbon Disclosure Project. For example, subtract the figures in Scope 1 and Scope 2 columns from the figures in the Scope 1+2+3 column on pages 11, 12 and 13 of CDP5_FT500_Summary_Report (which can be found at To see where this fits in the wider scheme of things, take a look at my report ‘Beyond carbon neutral’ at

  • Peter
    Posted August 8, 2008 at 10:53 am

    Love it. ‘Outsourced Co2’ indeed. You’ll be saying they’ll be trading it next.

    Sorry, almost every survey I am sent/get confronted with leaves me seeking an option usually not there.

    ‘Should an iPod’s pollution be counted as Apple’s or China’s?’

    Er… both? That way the company and the country can be held to account for the stuff going into the global atmospheric pot. Anything else would suggest all sorts of neat ways to shunt a problem out of line of sight, not that anyone would dream…

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