Programme overview

IPC is working to systematically address the impacts of global climate change and collaborating to reduce carbon emissions across the sector through the IPC EMMS programme. We believe that through the knowledge sharing and positive action, the entire postal industry will be able to lower its environmental impacts, thereby addressing stakeholder concerns about its contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.

The IPC EMMS programme was rolled out in 2009, capturing data and progress for the 2008 calendar and financial reporting year. IPC and the participating member posts set as their goals an ambitious challenge to cut the global postal sector’s carbon emissions by 20%, and to continue our expansion of the global postal sustainability programme to extend its impact as widely as possible across the world. In 2014, participating posts achieved the collective target of a 20% carbon emissions reduction, six years ahead of schedule.

In 2014, a new target was introduced for the group to achieve a 20% reduction in carbon emissions  per letter mail and per parcel by 2025, from a 2013 baseline.

IPC’s Environmental Measurement and Monitoring System (EMMS)

IPC’s Environmental Measurement and Monitoring System (EMMS) programme is a sector wide initiative acting to mitigate the impacts of global climate change via a collaborative approach to reduce carbon emissions. The EMMS programme was developed in 2008 in response to stakeholder and CEO requests for the postal sector to minimise its carbon footprint following concerns regarding the contribution of the sector to greenhouse gas emissions. The EMMS programme is a global initiative, consisting of 20 participants from five continents – Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, North America, and South America. The 2016 IPC Postal Sector Sustainability Report analyses data reported for the 2015 calendar year. 

Following a pilot in 2008, the full EMMS programme was launched in 2009, capturing data and measuring progress for the 2008 calendar year. In line with the programme’s aim to reduce carbon emissions across the sector, IPC and the programme’s original 20 participating posts together set two ambitious targets to be achieved collectively by the EMMS group by 2020 (from the 2008 baseline year): 

  • To achieve a score of at least 90% in carbon management proficiency 
  • To reduce combined carbon emissions from own operations by 20%. 

The group successfully reached the 20% emissions reduction target in 2014, six years ahead of schedule (see the 2015 IPC Postal Sector Sustainability Report). Nonetheless, further progress on absolute carbon emissions reductions beyond the 20% target will still be reported until 2020. Meanwhile, recognising participants’ continuous improvement in carbon efficiency, a new target was introduced for the group in 2014: 

  • To achieve a 20% reduction in carbon emissions (Scope 1, 2 and 3 – outsourced transport only) per letter mail and per parcel by 2025, from a 2013 baseline. 

The underlying principle of the EMMS programme is that significant, systematic, and sustainable carbon emissions reductions can only be achieved through a comprehensive approach to carbon management. The programme provides a common carbon measurement and reporting structure that enables participants to share their carbon and environmental management strategies, performance, and achievements. There are multiple stages of data collection involved in the EMMS process. The first stage is a qualitative section, which requires participants to complete a comprehensive self-assessment questionnaire to assess their carbon management proficiency.  

Ten management pillars are considered, including Policy and Procedures, Activity, Measurement and Verification, and Targets. The next stage of the process is the quantitative section, which requires participants to report carbon emissions and other operational data in order to measure carbon efficiency and thereby assess the efficacy of participants’ carbon management systems. 

IPC works closely with Verisk Maplecroft, an independent global risk analytics and advisory firm, to develop and deliver the annual Sustainability Reports and broader EMMS programme. Verisk Maplecroft undertakes inspections of participant data via multiple rounds of plausibility checks and review of supplementary evidence in order to ensure consistently high levels of accuracy. To promote continuous improvement, participants’ data is analysed on an individual basis and detailed Assessments for individual posts are jointly developed. In addition, IPC collects, aggregates, and analyses data at the group level and reports on the results of the EMMS programme annually in the form of publically available Sustainability Reports. We ensure our data is accurate and credible through a third-party review from our external accountant, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), providing us with limited assurance. 

In the 2015 reporting year, 20 participants submitted data to the EMMS programme: An Post (Ireland), Australian Postal Corporation (Australia), bpost (Belgium), Correos (Spain), CTT Correios de Portugal (Portugal), Deutsche Post DHL Group (Germany), Empresa Brasileira de Correios e Telégrafos (Brazil), Le Groupe La Poste (France), New Zealand Post Ltd. (New Zealand), Austrian Post (Austria), POST Luxembourg (Luxembourg), Poste Italiane (Italy), Posten Norge (Norway), Posti (Finland), PostNord (Denmark & Sweden), PostNL (The Netherlands), Royal Mail Group Plc (United Kingdom), South African Post Office (South Africa), Swiss Post (Switzerland), United States Postal Service (United States). Please see Annex 2 “Exclusions and Estimations” of the 2016 IPC Postal Sector Sustainability Report for more information on the EMMS programme participants. 

In order to accurately track the EMMS group’s progress towards the programme’s carbon emissions targets, the aggregated Carbon Performance Indicator (CPI) results presented for all years (unless otherwise stated) include only the results of participants that submitted data in the 2015 reporting year. Figures from posts that did not report data for this year have therefore been excluded, including data for previous years (back to and including the baseline year), so that a direct comparison can be made (for participants’ reporting details, please see Annex 2 “Exclusions and Estimations”). In the Carbon Management Proficiency (CMP) analysis, we distinguish between the group of 18 participants within the EMMS group that joined the programme prior to 2010, and the wider group of 20 participants which also includes posts that joined the EMMS programme two or more years after it began. These scores are distinguished between for all years back to and including 2010 due to the scores for newer participants typically being relatively low in their first few years of reporting. We do, however, recognise that the rate of improvement of the newer participants is commensurate with the rate of improvement of the EMMS group as a whole. We are confident that new participants will continue to improve their scores from their individual baselines through participation in the EMMS programme. 

The road ahead for EMMS

Keeping the world on a 2°C pathway

Following the Paris Climate Agreement there is growing recognition that global businesses will need to play a key role in reducing carbon emissions and enhancing climate action. Adopted by 195 countries in December 2015, the Paris Agreement sets out a global action plan to limit global warming to well below 2°C in order to avoid the most dangerous climate change impacts. Through the EMMS programme, the postal sector is committed to increasing carbon efficiency and achieving relative carbon reductions across all aspects of the supply chain, by integrating climate change and energy considerations into operational policy, strategy, and long term planning. 

Last year, the EMMS group successfully achieved the programme’s 20% absolute emissions reduction target - six years ahead of the 2020 target date. In doing so the group has demonstrated the importance of collaboration in reaching emissions reduction targets. Similarly, collaboration within and across sectors will be essential in achieving the goals set out in the Paris Climate Agreement. To facilitate collaboration between EMMS participants, IPC annually hosts a Sustainability Workshop during which posts are invited to share information and best practices regarding their carbon management and emissions reduction efforts. This year’s discussions were focussed on the current EMMS programme and progress to date, in addition to the programme’s future direction and horizon scanning in line with global sustainability outlooks. Guest speakers from international organisations were also invited to share their knowledge and experiences and to encourage wider inter-organisational collaboration to address sustainability challenges.  

In order to further develop the EMMS programme and to ensure that the postal sector is aligned with global climate objectives, a new delivery efficiency target was introduced for the group in last year’s Sustainability Report. The EMMS participants aim to achieve a 20% reduction in Scope 1, 2, and 3 (outsourced transport) emissions per letter mail and per parcel by 2025, from a 2013 baseline. Further demonstrating our commitment to global climate action, in January 2016 this target was successfully approved as a sectoral benchmark by the Steering Committee of the Science Based Targets (SBT) initiative, a partnership between CDP, the UN Global Compact (UNGC), the World Resources Institute (WRI), and WWF intended to increase corporate ambition on climate action. This ensures that our target aligns with latest climate science, and that our emissions reductions are in line with the reductions that are required to limit global warming to 2˚C. IPC’s delivery efficiency target is therefore in accordance with the aims of the Paris Climate Agreement and associated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) (please see Annex 4 for details of the NDCs of member states to the Paris Agreement). We encourage EMMS participants to submit their individual targets to the SBT initiative for official quality check. 

Indeed, posts are already showing enthusiasm for setting ambitious targets in line with climate science. PostNord is the first of our participants to have individually developed a science based target, and we expect the representation of postal companies within the impressive group of organisations that have successfully developed science based targets to continue to grow.

The EMMS programme’s delivery efficiency target places greater emphasis on carbon efficiency and broadens the programme’s scope to include emissions from outsourced transport, which is a significant contributor to emissions from the postal sector. The current trend of decreasing letter mail volumes in tandem with increasing parcel volumes, which is largely attributed to the expansion of e-commerce, presents the EMMS group with a greater challenge in achieving efficiency improvements. Parcels have a higher carbon footprint than letter mail, while the rise in parcel deliveries is also leading to an increase in the use of outsourced transport. With this in mind, and as part of the collaborative drive to reduce the postal sector’s carbon footprint, the EMMS participants have shown enthusiasm in their ambition to achieve greater transparency and more complete reporting of emissions associated with postal delivery. At last year’s annual Sustainability Workshop participants established a Working Group on the exchange of Scope 3 emissions of cross-border mail. Subsequently, during the annual Sustainability Workshop in June 2016 the Working Group presented their approach to facilitate more accurate reporting of emissions associated with the delivery of international mail to the wider group. Participants continue to further collaborate in order to develop a methodology which can be adopted by all postal operators.  

Collaboration and partnerships, between and within public and private sectors, will be imperative to implementing strong climate action. IPC is committed to further intensifying its collaboration with international organisations, and entering into new collaborative relationships in order to strengthen the EMMS programme’s position as a leading sustainability initiative. Our current participation in successful collaborative initiatives includes the UNFCCC’s Climate Neutral Now, WWF’s Climate Savers, Science Based Targets, and the UN’s Caring for Climate. IPC is also an active participant of the UN Global Compact, and the EMMS programme and its achievements comprise an important component of IPC’s annual reporting to the UNGC. 

Advancing sustainability and driving positive change

While recognising the EMMS group’s commendable achievement in reducing the postal sector’s carbon footprint, IPC believes that the group is capable of improving sustainability not only in terms of emissions reductions, but also by expanding our sphere of influence to encompass wider sustainability issues. Building on the Millennium Development Goals, in 2015 the United Nations introduced 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which provide a global agenda for sustainability action. The goals encompass a wide spectrum of sustainability issues from eliminating poverty, to ensuring sustainable water use, to taking action to mitigate climate change and its impacts. It is universally recognised that businesses must show leadership in implementing these goals, ensuring their integration into long term growth and strategy in order to advance sustainable development. The UN’s SDGs thus make an explicit call for businesses to emerge as frontrunners in stepping up to the sustainability challenge. 

Mapping relevant SDGs against the postal value chain enables priority areas for sustainability actions to be identified (see diagram). In doing so, postal companies can understand how their core activities impact different SDGs, and by specifically focussing on issues which are most material to the postal sector, they can influence the most positive change. The next stage of the process towards integrating the SDGs into to the postal sector value chain will be to communicate and engage with our stakeholders on these aspects, thereby raising awareness of the importance of private sector involvement in achieving these goals. Stakeholder dialogue is of utmost importance to overcome sustainability challenges. We will reach out to our stakeholders to identify which sustainability aspects they consider to be most important to our sector, and therefore on which we should be focussing. Through communication, engagement, and collaboration, as a sector we will be fully equipped to build these sustainability aspects into long term development strategy. 

Figure: Postal sector commitment: aligning the postal sector value chain with the SDGS and a circular economy

In line with our goal to implement wider sustainability issues into our sectoral strategy, IPC intends to place greater emphasis on sustainable resource use within the EMMS programme. In doing so, we strive to further align with the Circular Economy concept, which aims to optimise the use of products and reduce waste through increasing recycling and reuse. Participants have already shown leadership in this respect. For example, Posti’s focus on waste management under the WWF Green Office programme drove the company to raise recycling levels above 90% in 2014. Another example is New Zealand Post, whose waste reduction efforts between 2012 and 2015 enabled the post to increase its recycling rate to 77%, reducing waste to landfill by 36%. Meanwhile, by integrating sustainability into procurement decisions and engaging with suppliers, postal operators can encourage sustainable and efficient resource use in the postal value chain. This move away from the current, unsustainable linear business practices of production and consumption, towards a more circular system, will not only yield environmental and social benefits, but generate significant financial savings and increased competitiveness.* As emphasised by the UN, in order to achieve these sustainability challenges, businesses must ensure that sustainability information is integrated into their reporting. Indeed, IPC recognises that only by reporting on these aspects can we accurately monitor our progress towards achieving our sustainable resource management objectives. 

* Ellen MacArthur Foundation, February 2016, ‘Intelligent Assets: Unlocking the circular economy potential’. Available at