It’s time for all businesses to do their part to change business for good and create a climate positive plan of action. Small business to large corporations all need to play a role in decarbonization (i.e. eliminating Green House Gases (GHG’s) and the use of fossil fuels in their operations, ditto for their suppliers, in shipping, packaging, and product material inputs) over the next 10+ years to thwart catastrophic climate change.
The good news is that we have solutions. Business solutions such as, carbon offsets (i.e. tree planting; deforestation investing, etc. solar farms); redesigning fossil fuels out of our product materials, supply chains and operations; converting to renewable energy to power your office and/or facility, and…The possibilities are many and the key to success is setting goals and a system for measuring them.
As the axiom goes: “What gets measured, gets done.”
- Step one: Organizational leaders (i.e. the owner, entrepreneur, c-suite, CEO + board) must lead the decarbonization and/or net zero charge by setting a clear and meaningful vision. One of the first challenges businesses face in sustainability efforts is articulating a long-term vision with realistic, short- and mid-term goals for action. Without leadership driving the process, most sustainability programs stall and fail.
- Step two: Start with the low hanging fruit. Set a short and mid-term emission reduction of Green House Gas (GHG) target through the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi), which evaluates corporate goals goals for alignment with what science shows us is required to keep warming below 1.5°C per the Paris Agreement. Science Based Targets are also a great guide for start-ups and small businesses.
- Step three: Most companies start their sustainability journey addressing Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions, which include direct emissions and those from purchased energy for companies’ own use. However, to truly achieve net zero requires a holistic view of the entire value chain. This means companies should incorporate Scope 3 emissions, which are indirect emissions from upstream and downstream activities, like employee commutes, supplier emissions and end-of-life (i.e. so called waste) product ingredients (time to phase out petroleum and plastics) processing.
- Step four: Establish your baseline and set realistic incremental goals. To begin, companies need to know where they are now and develop a thorough understanding of their environmental footprint, including scope 1,2 and 3 emissions, to help quantify and identify areas of improvement throughout the entire value chain.
- Step five: Consider GHG offsets; redesigning your product to sequester carbon; or installing solar or wind power for your operations and the companies in your product value chain; or investing in regenerative farming and deforestation projects that help to sequester carbon. The solutions are here it’s really a matter of leadership taking action.
- Step 6: Integrate sustainability into daily business operations. Defining how your unique business can become climate positive is just the beginning. It’s critical to translate sustainability goals into realistic action plan. Leadership should communicate the mission, vision and strategies clearly and ensure that sustainability practices are implemented into day-to-day operations and all employees are held accountable to specific decarbonization goals that they are responsible for in their job duties and evaluations.
The Benefits of Action
The late Ray C. Anderson, founder of Interface Carpet—one of the most sustainable companies on earth once asked:
“What is the business case for ending life on earth?”
An important question, but equally important is the business community’s response. We simply cannot continue business as usual if we hope to have a “climate fit for life” on earth.
The benefits of a climate positive plan for your business include:
- competitive advantage
- a values based workplace
- product innovation
- a legacy impact
- business longevity by supporting life on earth
- Set GHG Targets with the help of the Science Based Targets Initiative: https://sciencebasedtargets.org/
- Offset your GHG emissions locally or internationally with: Four Corners Office of Energy Efficiency Carbon Offset Program: https://4cornersoffset.org/how-it-works/ or The Gold Standard: https://www.goldstandard.org/
- Offset your plastic use with Plastics for Change: https://www.plasticsforchange.org/blog/what-is-plastic-offsetting
- Host your website with a company that invests in renewable energy: https://www.greengeeks.com/
- Search the web with an engine that invests in reforestation: https://www.ecosia.org/
- Redesign waste and fossil fuels out of your products with Cradle-To-Cradle Safe and Circular Design: https://www.c2ccertified.org/education/safe-circular-material-choices
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