Spain could save up to 3.9 million tonnes of CO2e per year thanks to teleworking
Spain could in the future save up to 3.9 million tonnes of CO2e per year thanks to teleworking. This is the result of a new study carried out by the Carbon Trust and commissioned by the “Vodafone Institute for Society and Communication”. For each employee who teleworks, 599 kg of CO2e will be saved. The study assumes that in the future around 6.52 million jobs (34%) in Spain can be done remotely and that the average number of telecommuting days per week will increase to 2.8.
This report analyzes the CO2e emissions savings derived from teleworking before, during and after the pandemic, and shows how changes in work patterns that occur in the post-Covid future can contribute to these savings. The study includes emissions avoided while traveling, in offices and at home. It was carried out in six European countries, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
1 year of COVID-19: 3.6 days of teleworking saves 890 kg of CO2e per worker
From March 2020 to March 2021, Spaniards worked remotely an average of 3.6 days per week. This translates into a carbon emissions saving of 890 kgCO2e per teleworker, which equates to five Madrid-London flights, a 58% increase over the period before COVID. Spain thus occupies third place after Italy and Germany. In comparison, the emissions avoided by Sweden fell from 124 kgCO2e to 243 kgCO2e. This regional variability reflects the differences in the average energy performance of buildings, as well as the variability between travel patterns: Sweden has relatively low grid intensity and uses lower carbon sources for home heating systems, mainly district heating, electric heating and biomass, and negligible. the use of oil and gas, leading to higher energy efficiency compared to other countries.
This is also confirmed by identifying which area has been in which the most emissions were avoided: in all countries except Sweden, emissions avoided in offices during the COVID-19 pandemic had the most impact on the individual carbon footprint, and represented more CO2e emissions avoided than travel. The rebound effects of the increase in domestic energy consumption did not compensate for it either. In Spain, the 270 kg of additional domestic carbon emissions during the pandemic are offset by the savings in office emissions (867 kg) and those avoided by commuting (294 kg).
Relevance of the seasonal impact on energy consumption
While remote working clearly offers average annual carbon savings, this is not always the case, depending on individual circumstances. Seasonal, regional and individual behaviors lead to different scenarios of carbon consumption in the context of the workplace. A comparison between Germany and Spain shows that: due to the high demand for heating and the predominant combination of fossil fuels in heating systems (oil and gas), additional domestic emissions in Germany increase in winter , office work can therefore be more efficient during this season. The emissions of German employees traveling by public transport (train) in winter are 7.46 kgCO2e / day at the office against 12.71 kgCO2e / day at home. In Spain, by contrast, the widespread domestic use of air conditioning in summer results in increased carbon emissions and potentially makes office work more environmentally friendly in summer, especially when traveling by train. (Office: 3.49 kgCO2e / day versus telework: 5.78 kgCO2e / day).
Andie Stephens, Associate Director, Carbon Trust: “The report shows that while telecommuting offers great potential for carbon savings, it is important to understand regional nuances and ways of working, and to identify inefficiencies that increase productivity. consumption to create real savings scenarios. To realize the long-term environmental benefits of increasing hybrid work models in the future, we must ensure that we take different approaches beyond the home. Otherwise, offices that run at full power and are only half-occupied, or transportation systems that cannot keep up with changing demand, could lead to an overall increase in carbon emissions. “
Recommendations for public bodies and administrations
Derived from the findings, the report offers recommendations for businesses and policy makers on how they can plan and promote working from home to eliminate CO2e inefficiencies in buildings and through energy supply. In this context, it assesses the additional influence that areas such as urban planning, transport and telecommunications can have on the savings potential.