Climate Change. The ‘big bad’ the entire world is fighting to keep at bay. Melting ice caps, rising sea levels, severe storms, increased droughts and heatwaves are some of the many effects that we have already begun to witness. As a business leader, you have a unique responsibility, not just to yourself and your employees but to your customers and those who live around your business, to actively make decisions that reduce corporate-aided pollution that furthers climate change. The best way to do so would be carbon neutralization.
Ever since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, businesses across the world have consumed fossil fuels at an unprecedented rate, causing the concentration of carbon dioxide to increase by 46%. For the longest time our natural carbon sinks– the ocean, soil and plants– absorbed these human-generated emissions, but with forest-cover being cut down and rampant soil and ocean pollution, our planet’s natural carbon sequestration isn’t able to put a dent in the greenhouse gasses trapped in our atmosphere. That’s exactly why companies such as Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, Ford and Ikea to name a few, are becoming climate positive and committing themselves to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Going carbon neutral isn’t a change that businesses can achieve overnight, instead, it is a slow gradual process. Here are a few steps to help you decarbonise your business.
1. Analyze Your Carbon Footprint
Before you get started on the solution, your business needs to pinpoint the exact causation of the problem. You can identify your carbon footprint based on direct business activities and that of your suppliers. This includes emissions generated from energy, gas and water consumption and business travel. Companies such as Amazon hold themselves accountable by releasing Carbon Footprint Reports each year that details their yearly emissions and their Carbon Intensity, which refers to the amount of carbon pollution emitted per dollar earned, and then they draft a plan to further reduce their footprint according to the report
2. Look For Green Alternatives
One of the best ways to ensure long-term carbon neutrality is by powering your business activities with renewable alternatives. If you have old appliances that need to be replaced, opt for energy-efficient substitutes that lower your emissions. Invest in a Building Management System that centrally controls the heating and cooling of your office building, cutting down your hefty electricity bill and carbon footprint. Another alternative is switching to renewable and recycled materials like IKEA. “Currently, 60% of the materials IKEA uses are renewable and 10% are recycled. The ambition is to reach a combined total of 100% by 2030,” says Lena Pripp-Kovac, Head of Sustainability at the Inter IKEA Group.
3. Minimize Unnecessary Waste
From single-use plastic to needless printing, businesses incur copious waste on a daily basis. Even with the workspace getting rapidly digitized, according to the EPA, 90% of all office waste is paper as the average U.S. office worker still uses 10,000 sheets per year. The best way to avoid this would be to implement office rules that cut down on unnecessary waste. The Dubai Government recently took up the initiative to go entirely paperless, saving more than 336 million papers along with 1.3 billion Dirham (USD 350 million) and over 14-million-man hours.
4. Offset Unavoidable Emissions
At the end of the day, some carbon emissions are simply unavoidable but this is where companies take the initiative and offset emissions through indirect activities. Your business can donate to carbon reduction charities and NGOs that work towards reforestation, ocean and soil preservation or even invest in companies that develop renewable sources of energy. Google not only managed to go carbon neutral in 2007 but also managed to eliminate its entire carbon legacy through offsets.
According to a recent report published by the World Economic Forum, ‘climate action failure’ is ranked as the number one long-term threat to the world with the risk of potentially the most severe impacts to humans and the planet over the next decade. It’s time for businesses to band together and do their part in providing the planet with some much-needed respite.