How can you tell if a company is serious about their carbon commitments?
Multi-national corporations have only in the last year or two have stepped up rhetoric and action to lower their carbon footprint and are in many cases participating in the voluntary carbon offset market. But is this a genuinely effective strategy or “greenwashing?”
We like to think of the carbon in the atmosphere as a bath that is being filled with multiple taps from around the world and it’s getting pretty full.
Reducing your business’ carbon footprint is of course a good thing, as it slows the flow of water from your own tap, but what really needs to happen is for people to start taking water out of the bath. This is what genuine carbon sequestration does, and as humans we need to punch more holes in the bottom of the bath!
Three simple steps to zero
- Get an accurate baseline of your current carbon footprint and form a sensible plan to reduce your power, gas and water and waste. This is typically easier if you are a small organization and not expensive to do.
- Review the carbon content of the products or services you provide and include the fuel used to bring it to your office and/or customer. The level of complexity rises as businesses will need an on site audit and the consultant to work with your engineers or designers to understand the product and perhaps offer some simple ways to reduce its carbon content.
- Do a comprehensive review of your upstream and downstream supply chain. Contact all your suppliers and ask them to provide you with a statement of their own efforts to meet your environmental and social governance goals. This can take some time to complete, but we are already seeing supermarket chains pushing this agenda down to the farms and food processors that supply them. Failure to comply could lose your biggest customers. Getting ahead of this can save your business a lot of potentially lost revenue or put you in the box seat for new contracts.
Driving to NET ZERO and BEYOND
Microsoft is taking the unusual step of taking the superhighway to zero, and they can afford it. In 2020 management approved a programme to find ways to not only be carbon neutral, but to effectively remove all the carbon the company has produced since 1975! This will in part be funded by a carbon tax on their suppliers, but also a $1bn innovation and low carbon fund. Perhaps one of the biggest problems in the carbon offset market is the lack of credible auditing to verify genuine carbon sequestration. Microsoft have decided to use global accountants Deloitte to write their sustainability report.
The problem now is going to be finding enough genuine carbon sequestration projects that can be verified as taking out enough tons of carbon to meet that 1975 to present goal! This is a constantly evolving market said to be worth $48 billion dollars in the next 10 years. Maybe humanity will find that bath plug and start making a meaningful impact on draining enough carbon out.