Achieving net zero operations

To help support our ambition to be a net zero bank by 2050, Barclays is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) associated with our operations and supply chain.

Barclays Climate Strategy: Explained

Progress to date

Operational emissions by scope

Operational Footprint statistics

We have been carbon neutral for our Scope 12, Scope 23 and Scope 3 business travel4 emissions since 2020. We have achieved this by reducing or eliminating sources of carbon dioxide emissions associated with our operations and business travel and by compensating any remaining emissions by purchasing carbon credits under the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS).

We intend to remain carbon neutral, while investing in the continued decarbonisation of our operations and in the development of a net zero pathway for the emissions from our supply chain5.

The table opposite summarises our short and long-term approach to achieve net zero operations and reduce supply chain emissions.

Operational Footprint statistics

Decarbonising our operations

In 2019, we joined the global corporate renewable energy initiative, RE100, with a commitment to source 100% renewable electricity for our global property portfolio by 2030, with an interim goal of 90% by 2021.

In 2021, we met our target with 94% of the electricity used across our global property portfolio coming from renewable sources. This transition to renewable sources of energy contributed to Barclays exceeding its target of 80% GHG emissions reduction for Scope 1 and Scope 2 (market based) emissions by achieving an 86% reduction in 2021. We are now targeting a 90% reduction in GHG emissions across Scopes 1 and 2 (market based) by 2025 and we want to procure 100% renewable energy by the end of 2025.

In addition to using green tariff6 and energy attributes certificates7 to achieve these targets, we aim to sign Power Purchase Agreements8 and increase on-site renewable energy generation. We intend to generate 10% of our key campuses total operational energy from on-site renewables by 2035. For example, we have installed a solar panel power plant in our Pune campus that has reduced our emissions by 80 tCO2e from February to September 2021 and we are building a Sustainability Centre in our Glasgow campus that will provide self-generated solar energy for our Glasgow campus.

At the same time as continuing our transition to renewable electricity, we intend to decarbonise our global property portfolio by progressively eliminating the use of fossil fuels to heat and cool our buildings. We intend to reduce our Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions by 50% (location based) by 2030. We will do this by  continuing to remove the use of natural gas in our buildings, replacing gas boilers with carbon-free heating technologies when feasible. We will also continue to embed circular economy principles to reduce waste in our buildings and support the regeneration of natural systems. 

Improving the energy efficiency of our operations

In 2021, we launched an Energy Optimisation Programme to help improve the energy efficiency of our global property portfolio. The programme aims to improve our building management system (BMS) controls, including our use of air conditioning units and energy efficient technologies such as LED lighting, as well as our ability to adjust to changing occupancy requirements and weather conditions. In 2021 our energy efficiency initiatives achieved a 937tCO2e reduction. To align with the UK Green Building Council net zero building pathway recommendations, we intend to achieve a 70% energy intensity reduction across our key campuses by 2035. 

Making our operations more environmentally sustainable

We continue to work to ensure our facilities consume fewer resources, maximise the re-use of our materials and improve indoor environmental quality.

In 2021, we produced 4,014 tonnes of waste across our key sites; while this is a 76% reduction in comparison to 2018; we recognise that we need to do more. The reduction in waste was largely driven by our new hybrid working model accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the investment in our digital capabilities. For example, we reduced the volume of purchased paper by 91% compared to 2018.

Our ambition is to achieve and maintain TRUE (Total Resource Use and Efficiency) zero waste certified projects across our key campuses by 2035, which means we must divert a minimum of 90% of solid, non-hazardous wastes from the environment, landfill, incineration (waste-to-energy) to recycling facilities or locations where the waste can be reused. To support our waste reduction strategy, our Glasgow campus has already partnered with Soulriders to redistribute surplus food to local charities and started to replace single use items with reusable items and repurposed the onsite compost for our landscaping needs.

We continue to work to improve the efficiency of our water consumption across our key campuses by investing in water saving infrastructure. For example, Pune was our first campus to have a fully integrated rainwater harvesting system to store and repurpose 50,000 litres of rainwater.

To support our efforts to design and operate sustainable buildings, we aim to follow sustainability best practices, including the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification programme and international green building standards, such as Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM), National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) and GreenMark. In 2021, 45% of our global property portfolio had green building certifications, and 35% of our buildings remain certified to ISO 14001, the international standard for designing and implementing an Environmental Management System (EMS). Our ambition is to roll out ISO 14001 certifications across our key campuses. 

Minimising our travel emissions

Even though employee travel is a relatively small source of our carbon emissions, we intend to minimise travel emissions where we can. We do this by leveraging digital technology where possible as an alternative to face-to-face meetings, adjusting our travel policy to promote low-carbon solutions and avoid non-essential business trips and using our booking and reporting platforms to improve colleagues’ awareness of their individual carbon footprint. Additionally, we intend to transition all UK company cars to electric vehicles (EV) by 2025 and the rest of our global fleet to EV or ultra-low emissions vehicles by 2030. In support of this commitment, we joined the global corporate electric vehicle initiative, EV100, which sees organisations work together to speed up the transition to electric vehicles. 

In 2021, total colleague air travel emissions were 1,797 tCO2e, with a 97% reduction against a 2018 baseline, accelerated by travel restrictions arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. As we move to more normalised business travel levels after the pandemic, we recognise we may see an increase in travel emissions in future years. All emissions related to our business travel are offset. 

Defining net zero operations

We define net zero operations as the state in which we will achieve a GHG reduction of our Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions by at least 90% against a 2018 baseline and use carbon removals to eliminate any residual operational emissions we cannot yet abate.

We are defining carbon neutral as first reducing carbon dioxide emissions then counterbalancing carbon dioxide emissions from Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3 business travel with carbon offsets.

In 2020, we disclosed that we were already net zero from our own operations based on the common acceptance at that time, that net zero and carbon neutral were interchangeable terms. To reflect the most recent interpretations of both these terms in public disclosure, we will make a distinction between net zero operations and carbon neutral in our disclosure from now on.

Carbon offsetting

We purchase carbon offsets, under the VCS to compensate for any remaining emissions in our operations and business travel. We conduct due diligence as part of our procurement of carbon offsets. We have invested in a portfolio of credits, under the VCS, that come from approved methodologies. In addition to internal reviews, we also undertake third-party review of the project portfolio from an independent voluntary carbon markets advisory firm, which is not directly involved in the sourcing process. All final projects must pass independent due diligence screening based on risk assessment in five key areas – location, technology, additionality, environmental and social impacts as well as environmental and social benefits.

As part of our operational and business travel carbon offsetting strategy, we maintain support for nature-based climate solutions. This includes the purchase of carbon credits from REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) avoided deforestation projects, as well as a project by Indigo which seeks to enhance soil carbon in agricultural land. We recognise the importance of ensuring the integrity of natural capital and we screen nature-based offsets against established methodologies and where possible, have additional environmental and social co-benefits.

We firmly support initiatives to enhance the integrity and quality of the voluntary carbon markets including the work of the Taskforce on Scaling Voluntary Carbon Markets.

Working with our supply chain

As part of our ambition to be a net zero bank by 2050, we are aiming to reduce emissions associated with the products and services we purchase. That starts with aligning our suppliers with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

We are adopting a staged approach to achieving this ambition, working with key service providers to establish and disclose GHG9 emissions and help to set science-based GHG reduction targets10. Given the extent and diversity of our supply base, we will prioritise our work and will focus our efforts initially with those suppliers with more significant GHG emissions. By 2025, it is our aim that service providers covering 70% of Barclays' addressable spend will be reporting their GHG emissions and will have science-based GHG emission reduction plans in place.

Since 2016 we have been working with the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) to obtain GHG emissions data from our suppliers. In 2021 we achieved a 90% response rate from those suppliers invited to report their GHG emissions through CDP, which represents 48% of our addressable spend.

Our Third Party Code of Conduct has a specific focus on environmental management requirements, which includes establishing operational practices that minimise impact on the environment, and deploying measures to prevent and reduce environmental harm.

Through the code of conduct, we also expect suppliers to track performance and report environmental improvements, as well as setting environmental targets and commitments. 

We ask suppliers to align to our strategic goals and set emissions reductions targets that are long term, embrace the Science Based Target methodology and support the transition to a low-carbon economy.

ESG Data Hub

See the ESG Data Hub for further details on our annual operational greenhouse gas emissions since 2018, including our Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3 business travel location based and market based emissions. We further provide insights on our annual waste production, energy and water consumption and renewable electricity consumption by country.

See the ESG Disclosures tab on our ESG Resource Hub


Operations include company cars, offices, retail branches and data centres where Barclays have operational control.

Scope 1 emissions include our direct GHG emissions from natural gas, fuel oil, company cars and HFC refrigerants.

Scope 2 emissions include our indirect GHG emissions from purchased electricity and purchased steam and chilled water.

Scope 3 business travel emissions are our indirect emissions from commercial air travel and other transport.

5 Please see section “Climate change initiatives in our supply chain”

Green tariffs are programmes in regulated electricity markets offered by utilities that allow large commercial and industrial customers to buy bundled renewable electricity from a specific project through a special utility tariff rate.

EAC is the official documentation to prove renewable energy consumption. Each EAC represents proof that 1 MWh of renewable energy has been produced and added to the grid. Global EAC standards for renewable claims are primarily Guarantees of Origin in Europe, RECs in North America and International RECs (I-RECs) in a growing number of countries in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.

A Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) for renewable electricity is generally defined as a contract for the purchase of power and associated renewable energy credits (RECs) from a specific renewable energy generator (the seller) to a purchaser of renewable electricity (the buyer).

9  The Greenhouse Gas Protocol Initiative is a multi-stakeholder partnership of businesses, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), governments, and others convened by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. Launched in 1998, its mission is to develop internationally accepted greenhouse gas accounting and reporting standards for business and to promote their broad adoption.

10  Science-based targets are a set of goals developed by a business to provide it with a clear route to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. An emissions reduction target is defined as 'science-based' if it is developed in line with the scale of reductions required to keep global warming below 2°C from pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C (Paris Agreement). 2,000+ companies work with the Science Based Targets initiative.