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Our Climate and Environment Policy

Ranger removing debris from the hydro at Watendlath, Cumbria
Ranger removing debris from the hydro at Watendlath, Cumbria | © National Trust Images/Paul Harris

As Europe’s largest conservation charity, the National Trust places great importance on responding to threats posed by the climate crisis. Find out exactly what our climate and environment objectives are, and how we intend to deliver on them.

Responding to climate change

The scale of the National Trust’s conservation responsibilities is huge, encompassing more than 600,000 acres of countryside, 700 miles of coastline and over 300 historic houses and gardens.

Our job is, and always will be, to protect and care for places so people and nature can thrive. And we recognise that responding to the threats posed by the climate crisis and the catastrophic decline in our natural environment are core to our context and purpose.

This Climate and Environment Policy describes our climate change response, including our target to be carbon net zero by 2030, and to embed climate change adaptation into our decision making.

It sets out our principles and objectives to ensure that the management of our business operations and our conservation work is done in a way that reduces resource use, eliminates pollution, and ensures compliance with all external and internal obligations.

Irreplaceable trees lost in Storm Arwen at Bodnant Gardens, Conwy
Irreplaceable trees lost in Storm Arwen at Bodnant Gardens, Conwy | © National Trust Images/Annapurna Mellor

Our Climate and Environmental Management System (CEMS)

To manage these responsibilities, we have implemented a trust-wide Climate and Environmental Management System (CEMS) which provides a framework for identifying, setting and tracking progress against objectives in order to continually improve our climate and environmental aims.

We will maintain certification of our CEMS against the ISO14001 environmental management standard and incorporate ISO14090 – the standard for climate adaptation – within this.

In delivering these responsibilities we commit to the following principles:

ESTABLISHING a baseline for key resource consumption and emissions. Using this baseline to accurately measure and report our performance, we will use those resources wisely, in the manner expected of an environmental charity.

PREVENTING pollution and respect the level of protection afforded to the environment by environmental legislation.

COMPLYING with all compliance obligations and keep appropriate records to evidence that.

ENGAGING those we work with and external audiences to help them understand how their activity affects the climate and the environment – inspiring them to reduce their negative impacts.

UNDERSTANDING the implications of climate change for the whole organisation and ensure that climate change adaption is integrated into the National Trust’s ways of working.

The scope of the National Trust’s CEMS is available on request

Tree planting on tenant farmland at Lodge Park, Gloucestershire
Tree planting on tenant farmland at Lodge Park, Gloucestershire | © National Trust Images/James Dobson

Our climate and environment objectives

1. To become carbon net zero by 2030, by reducing emissions from our operations in line with science-based targets, and for those carbon emissions we can’t reduce, we’ll remove the equivalent amount from the atmosphere in our land and habitats.

2. To ensure our carbon emissions reduce in line with a science-based pathway, our target for reduction across all of our Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions (i.e. direct and indirect emissions through our full value chain) will be 45% by 2030 (against a 2019/20 baseline). And we will deliver a 5% year on year reduction of our Scope 1 and 2 emissions (i.e. direct emissions from our energy use, fuel burnt in machinery and vehicles and our in-hand livestock) until 2030.

3. To understand, through a combination of research and action, current and future climate change risks and opportunities, and ensure this understanding is integrated into our decision-making, the evolution of our places and our business model.

4. To drive forward resource efficiency and reduce waste – implementing full circularity principles and systems where possible. We will implement our Waste Strategy and fulfil our commitment to significantly reducing the use of single-use plastics.

5. To reduce water consumption, ensuring that our consumption is measured, and matches water availability as closely as possible. To deliver this objective we will be developing a separate water use policy.

6. To prevent pollution by improving and maintaining our sewage systems, and by avoiding our use of hazardous materials such as herbicides and pesticides, except where our conservation activities require their exceptional deployment. We will also continue to drive out oil-fired heating systems, thereby minimising the risk associated with storing oil.

7. To use our Procurement Instruction to reduce our impacts on nature and climate by avoiding procuring damaging materials.

8. To assess and improve the sustainability of our projects, including ensuring they are very low or zero net carbon and have resilience to climate change impacts built in.

Responsibility for overseeing the effective delivery of this Climate and Environment Policy and the CEMS sits with the Land and Nature Directorate.

The CEMS is a core component in our strategic ambitions to restore a healthier, more beautiful natural environment, and to respond to the challenge of climate change.

A man looking down the guard around a tree sapling, in a landscape dotted with other newly planted trees

For everyone, for ever

We protect and care for places so people and nature can thrive. Find out who we are and what we stand for.

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