HarperCollins Targets 2022 To Be Carbon-Neutral in Operational Emissions

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Parallel to concerns and talks on sustainability during Frankfurter Buchmesse this week, HarperCollins has engaged London’s Brite Green.

Many players in world publishing are discussing the industry’s role in carbon emissions and taking steps to address it in the runup to COP26. Image: – Getty iStockphoto: Kateryna Kukota

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Brian Murray: ‘The Sustainability of Our Industry’
As we reported at the end of September, during this week’s Frankfurter Buchmesse, it’s expected that a consortium of publishing-related non-governmental organizations (NGOs), trade associations, and advocacy programs have pooled their resources to issue a coordinated call for prioritization of the climate crisis “across all sectors and all parts of society from the individual to the global level.”

These organizations are to have a first set of discussions, convened by the International Publishers Association (IPA), and then to use follow-up digital sessions to reach agreement and issue conclusions before the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP26 (October 31 to November 12) in Glasgow.

The entities committed to this plan are among the most prominent in world publishing:

And in another sign of the sort of impetus the approach of the COP26 talks is having, one of the world’s largest publishing corporations, HarperCollins Publishers, today (October 19) has announced a global commitment to  becoming carbon-neutral for its direct operational emissions in 2022.

Darren Chadwick

HarperCollins has appointed a United Kingdom-based sustainability strategy consultancy called Brite Green to develop and implement effective sustainability strategies and targets.  

Darren Chadwick, managing partner at Brite Green, is quoted, saying, “The team [at HarperCollins] has already made excellent progress in reducing its footprint and convening action on sustainability across the publishing industry.

“We look forward to working with them as they take the  significant step of becoming carbon-neutral in direct emissions.” 

Initial Focus: Scopes 1 and 2

HarperCollins is announcing that it will initially focus on Scope 1 and 2 emissions, targeting on-site electricity and fuel energy usage.

In case you’re not familiar with the “scope” terminology involving emissions, these are categorizations of greenhouse gas emissions used across international industries as they work to limit planetary temperature increases to well below 2 degrees Celsius—with a topline goal of hitting an increase limit of 1.5 Celsius at the very least.

In simplest divisions:

  • Scope 1 covers fuel combustion, company vehicles, “fugitive” emissions
  • Scope 2 covers purchased electricity, heat, and steam
  • Scope 3 covers Purchased goods and services, business travel, employee commuting, waste disposal, use of sold products, transportation and distribution (both up- and downstream), investments, and leased assets and franchises

As part of the News Corp Global Environmental Initiative, HarperCollins is also working toward a goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions across its operational and supply chain by 2050 or earlier, in line with the Paris Agreement.  

Brian Murray: ‘We Have a Responsibility’

“As a leading global publishing company,” says HarperCollins president and CEO in a prepared statement, “we have a responsibility to mitigate the impact of our business  on the environment and to identify ways to improve the sustainability of our industry.

Brian Murray

“We’ve been successfully reducing our emissions, and becoming carbon-neutral in Scopes 1 and 2 is the next step in the process.

“We’ll continue to work toward our long-term targets and seek to reduce carbon emissions and their associated costs from our business overall.”  

HarperCollins report that it has reduced its energy consumption by nearly 30 percent over the last five years.

The company also has Science Based Target Initiative (SBTi) approved goals to further reduce emissions in coming years—a 60-percent reduction across operations and a 20-percent reduction across its supply chain—by 2030 or earlier.

These targets, the company points out in its media messaging, are based on the most stringent 1.5C global temperature rise limit level.  

The company’s messaging today says that it intends to work with its current manufacturing partners to jointly help mitigate the industry’s environmental impact, and—through industry bodies and its own international sustainability groups—seeks  to work with suppliers that act in a responsible and sustainable way.

HarperCollins’ largest facility, a distribution center that happens to stand in Glasgow, is:

  • Working to remove plastic from the supply chain
  • Functioning as a ‘zero to landfill’ site
  • ISO-14001-certified since 2002, that being a international standard for environmental management

HarperCollins says in today’s communication that it “works with printers around the world to set standards and drive environmental responsibility in the key areas of paper sourcing and materials used in the manufacturing of its books through the Book Chain Project.”

In addition, the company says , early 100 percent of all its paper purchases bear either an SFI or FSC certification.


More on climate change and crisis response is here, more on HarperCollins is here, more on the International Publishers Association is here, more on Frankfurter Buchmesse is here, and more on COP26 is here

Publishing Perspectives is the world media partner of the International Publishers Association.

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is a non-resident fellow of Trends Research & Advisory, and he has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As as an arts critic (National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.

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