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2012 Greenhouse Gas Inventory and Sustainability Report

The World Resources Institute’s Sustainability Initiative seeks to align the Institute’s business practices with its mission. Using research and expertise from staff to guide us, WRI is committed to reducing the environmental and social impact of its operations.

Walking the talk on sustainability, this report discloses WRI’s 2012 GHG inventory results and discusses GHG reduction projects and other sustainability projects completed in the last year.

Key Findings

Executive Summary

Extreme weather events, including record-breaking temperatures, prolonged droughts, and powerful storms, are occurring around the world with startling frequency and mounting costs. These often devastating events are just some of the impacts of a global climate that is changing because of anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. To limit dangerous climate change impacts, global temperature must be stabilized at 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels—a goal that requires dedicated global collaboration on GHG reductions. As an organization dedicated to protecting Earth’s environment and improving people’s lives, the World Resources Institute (WRI) has long recognized our obligation to reduce GHG emissions in our own operations.

In 1999, WRI became one of the first nongovernmental organizations (NGO) to complete an inventory detailing its annual GHG emissions. Since then, it has continued to drive internal sustainability management, most notably through the Sustainability Initiative, which helps ensure the Institute is “walking the talk” on meeting GHG reductions and leading others toward a more sustainable future. In November 2011, WRI set three absolute reduction targets relative to our 2010 base year inventory, which we aim to achieve by 2020:

  • 50 percent reduction in emissions from purchased electricity;

  • 20 percent reduction in emissions from business travel; and

  • 20 percent reduction in emissions from other scope 3 categories.

WRI’s 2012 inventory measures 5,457 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (mtCO2e) associated with our yearly value chain (scopes 1, 2, and 3) activities. This is a 3 percent decrease from our 2011 GHG inventory, putting us on the right path toward emission reductions (see figure 1). Our reductions are due mostly to a decrease in purchased electricity (scope 2), in part because of new energy-saving actions, but also influenced by a short-term cut in leased office space. The completion of office renovations before 2012 also led to a drop in emissions from purchased goods and services compared to 2011 levels. However, WRI has grown significantly, with 13 percent compound annual growth in expenses over the past 6 years. Corresponding emissions increases from 2010 to 2011 puts our total emissions still 14 percent above the 2010 base year inventory.

To meet our reduction commitments, WRI is identifying and implementing strategies to target reductions in energy use, business travel, and purchased goods and services. This report highlights one such strategy: engaging with our suppliers and partners. This allows us to learn more about their GHG inventories and encourage reporting and reduction targets, which in turn reduces emissions in our supply chain. Through two pilot projects, we learned valuable lessons that will help us move forward; these lessons may also prove valuable to other organizations that wish to engage with their supply chain. Beyond working toward meeting our absolute reduction targets, we continue to quantify and address other sustainability issues. In 2012, we continued to calculate WRI’s nitrogen footprint, increased our understanding of the paper products used in our operations, and reduced the environmental impacts of our onsite events. Moving forward, we intend to continue improving metrics and methodology around our GHG inventory and other sustainability efforts. WRI’s anticipated growth in the coming years will not make it easy to meet our targets. However, WRI is determined to aggressively pursue reductions in our own environmental impact while achieving positive changes in the world and advancing our mission.

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