Most of the LAs in my patch have made a commitment to the IPCC 1.5 C global temperature rise, by creating plans to reduce greenhouse gas ('carbon') emissions. Some had declared Climate Emergencies and set net zero ambitions and targets - in Y&NY our ambition is to be a carbon negative region by 2040. Fantastic initiatives such as switching to green energy tariffs, LED streetlights and EV fleet can give immediate tangible carbon savings in operational activity. These are easily measured and reported as Scope 1 and 2 emissions. Scope 3 emissions which include all the goods, works and services that a LA purchases are rarely measured as the supply chain is hard to pin down and consequently can be easily overlooked or dismissed. However, we needed to understand the contribution that this service and LA expenditure of over £3.2billion in Y&H could make to reducing the carbon footprint, signal our priorities to the market and how we practically make the service changes required.
Working through the Yorkshire and Humber Strategic Procurement Group, a steering group of LAs from West and North Yorkshire and York Councils sourced funding and commissioned Eunomia consultants to provide a three-stage process.
Firstly a review of LA Procurement and Climate strategies was undertaken to ensure they were aligned and to provide model working to support policy refresh where necessary. Secondly an expenditure analysis and prioritisation exercise was undertaken in order to focus on the high emitting spend categories. A high level scope 3 assessment was provided for participating LAs and this showed the enormous level of of magnitude of procured emissions, well over double 'in house' emissions in most cases.
Finally, based on the scope 3 assessment, the toolkits were created. These featured 'transport and vehicles, furniture, ICT and catering' and a bespoke guide for 'highways and construction'.
Webinars were held with procurement and climate teams from the region to introduce the toolkits and they were distributed via the Strategic Procurement Group knowledge sharing platform.
The next steps for the project are to ensure confidence in utilising the toolkits through a training programme and to build up a community of good practice. In addition, further work is required to ensure that local businesses which supply to the LAs are in a position to understand the refreshed 'ask' in tendering documents and are able to provide the necessary evidence and accreditation for low carbon procurement.
Measuring the success of this project will be difficult in quantitative terms, as it is difficult to compare contracts, even if repeated, over time. However, through the tendering process we are now in a position to define what low carbon procurement looks like and to ensure that this LA service is able to deliver on the commitments made across Yorkshire and Humber on climate action.
Link the Local Authority Low Carbon Strategy and team with Procurement Strategy and Team.
Ensure that all Local Authority Procurement Teams are engaged in the project and recognise the link between their LA Climate Strategy and targets (and in some cases Climate Emergency) and how their service (Commissioning, Procurement and Contract Management) can deliver carbon savings to meet those ambitions and targets. (This can be problematic, as procured goods, works and services 'scope 3' isn't often measured or counted and therefore often overlooked. However, our research showed that emissions from scope 3 purchased goods works and services is always a much greater order of magnitude than operational emissions counted in scope 1 and 2 - at least double in every case we reviewed.)
Where possible (financially) build in ongoing training in low carbon procurement to develop a community of best practice. This is new territory for Procurement colleagues and they need leadership support and training to build knowledge and confidence. Recognise the stretch of asking procurement teams to adopt new ways of working when they are already operating at full capacity.
Next step is supplier engagement – to ensure that local businesses (especially SMEs) are able to meet the low carbon requirements of the revised Procurement Policy.
Tonnes of CO2e savings on replacement contracts.