Our impact on society report 2012 Environment

Our two environmental priority issues are climate change and resource use. Both
reflect our concern for good environmental stewardship which is shared by many
of our stakeholders.

We see two big environmental challenges facing the planet. The first is climate change and the second is resource use.

Climate change impacts such as extreme weather patterns and water scarcity affect people everywhere, with developing countries the most vulnerable. We operate in more than 70 countries and we are seeing a growing global recognition of the effects of climate change whether from our investors or by policymakers and how this is starting to change the business landscape. New regulations are emerging – as are the expectations of the people who work at Pearson and who buy our products and services.

The second challenge is lack of resources. A growing population means more people and more competition for food, water, energy and natural resources. WWF has estimated that on current projections, humanity will need at least two planets’ worth of natural resources by 2050. All countries have legitimate aspirations to grow and provide opportunity, but that they do so in a sustainable fashion, should be of deep concern to us all.

In the context of this bigger picture, a challenge for educators is how to be effective in helping people to learn to think critically and to find solutions to difficult problems as well as helping foster the leadership necessary to apply this knowledge to drive change. Pearson, as the world’s largest learning company, has a role to play in this change not least as the quality of education outcomes is crucial to equip people with the necessary skills.

However, we cannot forget our own environmental footprint. Although it is relatively small compared to that of many industries, reducing our impact is both good for the planet and can often also deliver business benefits. Our two environmental priority issues are climate change and resource use. Both reflect our concern for good environmental stewardship which is shared by many of our stakeholders.

Our full environmental report is available in downloads.

Climate change

Climate change remains a focus for us as one of the most serious issues facing the planet. Minimising our own environmental impact is not just the right thing to do; it is fundamental to our future as a sustainable business and helps deliver cost savings.

We continue to be climate neutral, a commitment which focuses the company on carbon reduction. 2012 environmental highlights were:

  • Pearson was named the 32nd largest purchaser of renewable energy in the United States in the US Environmental Protection Agency Green Power Partnership list. We offset 100% of the electricity we use in North America through the purchase of wind power credits from across the United States and have invested in a project to install solar panels in schools in California. Our UK buildings – where we are responsible for purchasing utilities – are also powered by green electricity.
  • Pearson came top in the 2012 Corporate Renewable Energy Index (CREX) produced by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. We were one of 35 global companies to achieve a maximum score of 100%.
  • We have been accredited against the Carbon Trust Standard globally – one of only two companies that currently holds  status.
  • We now have 2.3MW in on-site renewable energy assets (solar panels and wind) at our facilities.
  • Pearson and the FT committed to a $1m three-year rainforest partnership in Colombia. We also continued to invest in Woodland Carbon offsets offered by the Woodland Trust in the UK and in a Nature Conservancy Council forest offset project in the United States.

Our climate footprint for 2012 is as follows:

Our climate footprint for 2012

Metric Tonnes of CO2

  UK US China RoW Total
2012 Climate Offset 12,158 21,055 6 9,740 42,959
2011 Climate Footprint 29,167 119,339 8,062 27,963 184,531
GHG movements in 2012 2,258 -632 6,013 2,586 10,225
Purchase of Green Electricity -19,267 -74,597 -14,069 -20,609 -128,542
Partnerships -23,055 -200 -23,255

Our footprint increased in 2012. This was as a result of acquisitions. Case study: Tom Delay, Chief Executive, Carbon Trust

Natural resources – forests

Our second focus area is forests. As a purchaser of paper and newsprint for our books, magazines and newspapers, security and sustainability of supply are very important to us. We have focused on actively encouraging responsible forest management and being more efficient in how we use paper. Some 2012 environmental highlights were:

  • The Financial Times has reduced the volume of newsprint and magazine papers it uses by over 50% in five years. A key initiative has been to reduce the base weight of the papers used.
  • Pearson together with three other North American publishers has entered into a partnership with the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® to help spur the growth of certification to preserve and protect forests. SFI Forest Partners aims to certify two million hectares of forests to the SFI 2010-2014 Standard across the United States and Canada and a further four million hectares by the end of 2017.
  • Over 50 million Penguin books published in 2012 carried the FSC logo.

Our commitments

Our commitments
Our commitment How we measure progress
To use FSC papers where we can and our own grading system We track and report the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) volume we purchase and the grading system we use to meet our requirement to purchase from known, responsible sources
To be ever more efficient in how we use paper as the most significant natural resource for us

We track the total metric tonnes of paper we use and how that compares to revenue

The paper used per £1m of non-digital revenue increased in 2012 reflecting a shift to digital services




  • Target achieved
  • Target ongoing
  2012 Target Outcome 2013 Commitment
Climate neutrality Maintain our climate neutral commitment for 2012 Achieved Maintain our climate neutral commitment for 2013
Carbon reduction Continuation of our programme to make our key buildings energy efficient with a particular focus on on-site renewable energy generation. We are planning a Phase II Solar Panel Project at Old Tappan and a wind turbine in Iowa City. Ongoing.
Penguin UK has an online product carbon assessment tool in place.
Two year initiative to extend to Pearson businesses in the UK agreed in principle. A new solar panel project has been agreed in principle in the United States. The aim is to complete this by the end of 2014.
Reuse/recycle rate Maintain our reuse/recycle rate for all unsold books and newsprint in excess of 95% Achieved Maintain our reuse/recycle rate for all unsold books and newsprint in excess of 95%
Targets Publish energy, water and other environmental targets once 2012 environmental audit completed Achieved.
Process and plans
Environmental management To complete the due diligence phase and to confirm whether to go ahead with ISO14001 certification in the United States in 2012 Achieved.
The United States is adopting LEED as its energy management system model
Collaboration One year in, to review the effectiveness of Planet Pearson at reaching and informing employees Achieved.
Planet Pearson newsletter launched
Awards Review Planet Pearson Environment Awards in 2012 Completed.
Planet Pearson Environment Awards discontinued
Consider including an environment category in a revamped community awards scheme for Pearson employees
Video - conferencing Further review of global implementation to reduce travel. Extend video conferencing to a further 10 sites in 2012 Achieved.
Invested in video conferencing at 12 sites
Extend video conferencing to a further 2 sites in 2013

Environment case studies

Case study: Tom Delay, Chief Executive, Carbon Trust

As only the second organisation ever to achieve global certification to the Carbon Trust Standard – by no means an easy task – Pearson is demonstrating real leadership in how to measure, manage and reduce carbon emissions year on year.
Carbon Trust logo

Case study: Renewable energy generation at our facilities

Our first renewable electricity project went live in December 2009. Over its lifetime the new solar panels on our building at Old Tappan in New Jersey is expected to produce electricity equivalent to 4,325 metric tonnes of C02e. To date, the Old Tappan solar panel project is generating 9% more than projected. We now have 2.3MW in on-site renewable energy assets (solar panels and wind) at our facilities.
Carbon Trust logo