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Can a business become carbon neutral? Absolutely!

Orange Bonnet mushrooms in the Catskills region of New York (Photo by the author)

In a recent post, I described how I became a carbon-neutral traveler. Can a business also become carbon neutral? The answer is ABSOLUTELY!

Today I want to talk about WHY, WHAT, and HOW of business emissions management.

So, WHY is it important for businesses to know their emissions?

The reasons and benefits are multiple and multi-faceted. A business that manages its emissions inventory is more likely to

➡️ Comply with existing and anticipate upcoming regulations;

➡️ Meet its clients’ and investors' growing expectations;

➡️ Reduce costs and material risks;

➡️ Strengthen its reputation;

➡️ Raise awareness among employees and customers;

➡️ Attract new talent, and

➡️ Reduce its environmental impacts and contribution to Climate Change.

WHAT kind of emissions need to be calculated?

Many business activities contribute to a company’s carbon footprint. Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG Protocol) defined methodology and standards for measuring and managing climate-warming emissions, subdividing them into three types: direct emissions (e.g. facilities heating or company vehicles), purchased electricity, and indirect emissions (e.g. supply chain, business travel).

HOW can a business manage its emissions?

It can be done at any time in a company’s sustainability journey: as an exploratory first move, as a next step on an already existing pathway, or as part of a larger sustainability initiative underway.

One way to do it is to work with a certification company. For example, my consulting company Common Practice Sustainability Advisors partners with a certification organization Climate Neutral helping their clients measure, compensate, and reduce their companies’ emissions.

Climate Neutral brings essential benefits to the brands it certifies.

✅ It’s a mission-driven nonprofit that administers its Climate Neutral Certified label trusted by many consumers

✅ It provides access to a price-competitive emissions calculation tool

✅ It provides access to comprehensive resources and guidance

✅ And, most importantly, once a company is certified, it becomes part of the Climate Neutral Certified community of brands that measured nearly 1,200,000 tonnes of carbon in 2022.

Another way is to use a third-party or in-house calculation tool making sure its methodology is based on the GHG Protocol.

After the emissions are measured, the next step is to take immediate action to compensate for these emissions. This is done through buying third-party verified carbon credits.

Carbon credits are one of key tools in the fight against climate change. They represent a metric ton of carbon dioxide (or its equivalent greenhouse gases) that is reduced or removed from the atmosphere. By purchasing carbon credits, businesses can compensate for their own emissions by supporting projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions elsewhere. It's a win-win solution that enables businesses to take responsibility for their environmental impact while promoting sustainable development. 🌱

High-quality carbon credits adhere to a strict set of standards and are registered with a third-party internationally-recognized verification standard, such as the Gold Standard, Verra's Verified Carbon Standard, Climate Action Reserve, or American Carbon Registry.

And the last, and very important step, is to create a set of 12 to 24 long reduction action plans as part of a larger long-term emissions reduction strategy.

Going back to the WHY of carbon emissions management, none of its benefits are achievable without setting an emissions reduction goal (see the next paragraph ⬇️) and creating an actionable strategy to achieve that goal. Near-term reduction plans help implement that strategy in manageable steps.

Through the 2015 Paris Agreement, world governments committed to curbing global temperature rise to well-below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C. In 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that global warming must not exceed 1.5°C to avoid the catastrophic impacts of climate change.

To achieve this, many companies set a strategy aligned with the science-based target of reducing global emissions by 50% by 2030 and achieve close to net-zero emissions by 2050.

Reduction action plans are near-term actions implemented to make progress towards longer-term goals. They are SMART (Specific Actionable Measurable Relevant Time-based) plans and are the interim steps that companies must take to reduce emissions in their own operations — many small steps that add up to real impact over time.

Climate Neutral’s Reduce guide can be a useful resource to setting reduction action plans for any company whether the goal is to become a Climate Neutral Certified brand or to just define emissions reduction plans and set them in motion.

Going again back to the WHY of carbon emissions management, the most important answer to this question is that we need to prevent the irreversible consequences of Climate Change on our planet and the humanity. That's the main goal we all should be setting right now!

So let's take control of our emissions and set a a goal to become carbon-neutral and ultimately near-zero emissions companies!

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