How to Build a Low Carbon Business
It's never been more important that businesses take responsibility for their carbon footprint and work to reduce and remove the emissions created by both operations and supply chains, the full Scope 1, 2 and 3*.
For humanity to stay close to the necessary ambition of the Paris Agreement to limit warming to around 1.5 degrees celsius, it's necessary for you to intentially design your business as low to zero carbon. It's not a new cost, it's a investment, as well as the needed thing.
We're already seeing companies with the ambition to become climate positive* and carbon negative* within the next few years. It's clear from the science that it's going to need all companies to go this way.
The sooner you start on that roadmap of carbon reduction combined with genuine carbon removal the less extreme the future climate will become, and the value fast moving companies accrue will compound over time.
At the same time employees are demanding more from business leaders in terms of environmental, social and governance practices.
Whether you're a large multinational corporation or smaller business getting started by building a progam to learn about the issues while also reducing and removing your carbon emissions is the first step.
Here's a quick for the steps you can start right now:
- Measure your emissions using LCA*, consultants or the array of carbon accounting tools available
- Publish your intent transparently with clear year-on-year targets
- Keep updating both customers and employees on progress
- Start reducing emissions from Scope 1 and 2 immediately, and develop plan for Scope 3
- Align budgets to use carbon removal offsetting* projects for activities and operations that are going to take longer to decarbonizing
Avoid anything that looks or feels like greenwashing*. If it seems too cheap to be true, it usually is. Only about 5% of the offsets you can buy are removal.
If you're wondering how everything fits together or want to give deeper into the themes in this article, we made something for you!
Check out our Climate Companies 3-day email course.
Day 1 - Climate Science for Companies
Day 2 - Climate Advantage for Companies
Day 3 - Climate Roadmap for Companies
There's so much constantly published on these topics so we've put together a starting point of high quality sources. We've done the research so you don't need to.
If you'd like to personally dig deeper into the science and what we can all do about it we also made a 14-day Intro to Climate email course too.
Have hope, make progress! 💚
Climate Buzzword Dictionary
The Climate Crisis - the accelerating heating of our planet due to human activity
Net zero - a target to stop producing Greenhouse Gases from human activity by 2050. It combines reducing, removing as well as offsetting hard to eliminate emissions. Also called Net-zero 2050
Paris Agreement - international agreement to limit climate change to 2 degrees Celsuis while aiming for 1.5C increase in average global temperatures
Scope 1 - are direct emissions created from business operations. For example: company factories or vehicles, industrial processes or manufacturing.
Scope 2 - are indirect, or purchased, emissions. For example: from electricity used in a building to power, heat or cool it.
Scope 3 - are emissions from the value or supply chains. For example: from basic materials or components, employees commuting, distribution or waste disposal. As well as anything else in a company's supply chain. This also includes your emissions driving to the store to buy whatever product; as well as how you use and dispose of it.
Carbon neutral - making or resulting in no net release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, likely using offsetting rather than fully decarbonized for Scope 1 and 2 emissions. Probably doesn't include emissions from Scope 3 sources
Carbon negative/climate positive - not only being carbon free in the future, but also moving historical emissions + more as well
Offsetting - buying parts of carbon avoiding, reducing or removing projects that avoid or remove emissions to reduce your own footprint
Greenwashing - tactic to hide emissions in low or zero carbon assets. Or misleading information about the emissions from a particular activity or company
Carbon and equivalents - bundle of main greenhouse gases - carbon dioxide, methane & nitrous oxide. Abrev. CO2e
Life Cycle Assessment - abbreviated to LCA. A methodology to calculate how much CO2e is emitted from a particular good or service throughout its entire life from raw materials, production, transport, use and disposal