By Rachel Baines, The Payments Association

The impact of climate change is undeniable, and businesses across all sectors are grappling with the need to understand and reduce their carbon footprint. This challenge is acutely felt within the payments sector, where determining carbon output is often a complex, nuanced task. Recognising this, The Payments Association is spearheading the Carbon Framework Initiative, a pioneering effort aimed at demystifying the carbon accounting process for payments.  

The payments sector, integral to the global economy, navigates a labyrinthine path when it comes to quantifying its environmental impact. Unlike industries with direct, tangible emissions from manufacturing or logistics, the carbon footprint of payments is embedded in intricate chains of transactions, services and operational activities. This poses a significant challenge for organisations striving to measure, report, and ultimately reduce their carbon output.  

 Emissions are scattered across various operational facets, from the electricity powering payments apps to the business travel of consultants, each organisation has its distinct measurement challenges. Additionally, the sector’s reliance on extensive digital infrastructure means that even cloud computing services, often outsourced, contribute to its carbon footprint. These emissions are frequently overlooked or underestimated in carbon accounting efforts due to their indirect association with the company’s core activities.  

The absence of standardised methodologies for calculating carbon emissions means financial institutions often find themselves navigating a patchwork of frameworks, guidelines and metrics, leading to inconsistencies in reporting and difficulties in benchmarking performance. Alongside this, the evolution of financial services moves incredibly rapidly, and the continual introduction of new products, technologies, and market practices further complicates carbon accounting. Without a unified approach, companies risk misallocating resources, pursuing less effective carbon reduction strategies and struggling to communicate their environmental impact transparently to stakeholders. As the payments sector navigates the complex landscape of carbon accounting, the need for a cohesive, standardised approach has never been more critical.  

Recognising these challenges, The Payments Association’s ESG Working Group’s Carbon Framework Initiative aims to establish a standardised, accessible framework for carbon accounting within the payments sector. By aligning with global sustainability goals and providing clear guidelines, tools and resources, the initiative seeks to demystify the process of calculating carbon output, enabling organisations to make informed decisions about their environmental impact. Our Carbon Framework Initiative represents a timely and essential step towards simplifying this process, empowering organisations to take meaningful action on their environmental impact. Through collaborative effort and shared commitment, the initiative promises to drive the sector towards a more sustainable, low-carbon future.  

To find out more, sign up for alerts from The Payments Association and keep up to date with initiatives related to ESG through our ESG toolkit 


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