IEMA and the climate emergency

In September 2019, the IEMA Board declared a climate and environmental emergency that “requires leadership at all levels, from government through to the individual”.

IEMA members have been leading the way, supporting a summer climate change webinar series and new climate risk guidance on environmental impact assessment and the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures. IEMA’s head office has also responded with its own commitments.

IEMA has set its own science-based reduction target in line with the 1.5°C scenario and following an absolute contraction approach. Against a 2019 baseline, IEMA will need to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by around 46% by 2030, and continue making reductions into the next decade. As a founding partner of Pledge to Net-Zero, IEMA is helping to provide a framework for other environmental organisations that want to make science-based transitions.

While pursuing direct energy and GHG reductions, IEMA has committed to be ‘Climate Neutral Now’, offsetting our residual carbon emissions using both the UK-based Woodland Carbon Code and UN’s Certified Emission Reductions. As outlined in IEMA’s GHG management hierarchy, action can be supported by both offsets now and real science-based reductions and transition by the business overall (the key goal)

We are also working to improve standards; I am collaborating with colleagues from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Costa Rica, Sweden and more than 20 other countries on ISO 14068: Greenhouse gas management and related activies – carbon neutrality. This is an opportunity to internationally set the requirements and principles for those seeking to pursue, demonstrate or exceed ‘carbon neutrality’. There are many approaches, and a real need for standardisation. Carbon neutrality cannot be a simple and static balancing of GHG emissions, and must complement net-zero and support transitional change. 

In a year disrupted by COVID-19, net-zero, resilience, adaptation and wider challenges are driving our focus on transition. The steering group for the Climate Change and Energy Network is developing programmes and reviewing the latest practice challenges. We are missing face-to-face meetings and events but continue to use online webinars, and to try new approaches such as ‘practice surgeries’. Please get in touch if you can support the network’s climate leadership.


Nick Blyth is policy and practice lead on climate change and natural environment at the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) and is a full member of the institute. He has worked in senior and management roles in local government, consultancy and for the Woodland Trust.

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