NHS Evergreen Assessment - Understanding Emissions Targets

Feb. 13, 2024, 8 a.m. • By Adam Forster

Understanding Emissions Targets in the NHS Evergreen Assessment

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In the realm of environmental sustainability, the NHS Evergreen assessment stands as a pivotal tool for suppliers aiming to align with green practices. A critical component of this assessment revolves around various emissions targets, each bearing its own significance and implications for your company. This article demystifies these targets, guiding you to choose the ones that best align with your organisation's goals and capabilities.

1. Absolute vs Intensity Emissions Targets

Absolute Emissions Targets refer to goals that aim to reduce the total volume of greenhouse gases (GHGs) emitted, independent of the company's operational scale. For instance, a business might set a target to cut its emissions by 50% from 1000 tonnes of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) to 500 tonnes of CO2e by 2030. This approach is straightforward and easy to communicate but may not always align perfectly with business growth or reduction in activities.

On the other hand, Intensity Emissions Targets focus on reducing emissions relative to a specific performance metric, such as per unit of product, per square meter of facility space, or per unit of revenue. For example, a company could aim to reduce its emissions by 60% per kilogram of product manufactured by 2030. This method allows for scalability and aligns emissions reductions with business growth.

2. Long-term, Near-term, and Net-Zero Targets

Long-term Targets are set for a distant future, typically spanning 10-30 years. They are crucial for aligning corporate strategies with international environmental agreements, like the Paris Agreement. These targets demonstrate a commitment to profound, long-lasting changes in operational practices and usually go alongside a Net Zero target.

Near-term Targets cover a shorter period, often 5-10 years, and are essential for ensuring ongoing progress and paving the way to meet long-term objectives. They encourage immediate action and continuous improvement.

Net-Zero Targets represent a commitment to entirely reduce emissions to zero, typically by combining significant direct emissions reductions with carbon removal mechanisms like reforestation. Achieving net-zero is increasingly seen as a pinnacle of corporate environmental responsibility.

Science-Based Targets are objectives grounded in scientific research and methodology, aligned with the latest climate science to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. These targets aim to limit global warming to below 1.5°C. They provide a clear, evidence-based path for companies to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, ensuring that corporate actions contribute effectively to global climate efforts.

3. Separate Targets for Each Scope

Setting distinct targets for each emissions scope – Scope 1 (direct emissions), Scope 2 (indirect emissions from purchased energy), and Scope 3 (all other indirect emissions) – is an option. Each scope presents unique challenges and opportunities, so bespoke strategies for each can be helpful. On the other hand, simple targets across all scopes can be easier to communicate.

4. What’s Right for Your Company?

Determining the right targets for your company involves a deep understanding of your current emissions footprint, industry norms, and operational capabilities. Start by conducting a comprehensive emissions calculation across all three scopes. Set realistic and achievable goals, ensuring they are aligned with industry standards. Remember, these targets are not just for compliance; they represent a commitment to sustainable practices that can drive long-term business success and contribute positively to the planet. If you don’t know where to start, why not book in for a free 30 minute intro call with one of our experts.


Understanding and setting appropriate emissions targets is a key step in your journey towards environmental stewardship. By choosing and committing to the right targets, you not only comply with the NHS Evergreen assessment but also position your company as a responsible, forward-thinking entity in the business world.

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