If you’re concerned that your business could be doing more to tackle climate change, you’re probably right — here’s where to start on how to improve your business’s carbon footprint
The climate crisis is dominating headlines in the media, debate in parliaments and individuals’ actions. But responses to the climate crisis are not just required from politicians and individuals — businesses must also change. They must do this, not just because it is the right thing to do, but because they will lose money if they don’t. Environmentally-conscious customers will go elsewhere, and the business will lose money as carbon tax rates increase.
But it can be overwhelming, and many businesses do not know where to start when it comes to reducing their environmental impact. In 2019, Business in the Community Ireland, the national network for sustainability in Ireland, launched the Carbon Pledge and 48 companies are now signed up to the pledge so far.
Moira Horgan, Head of Marketing at Business in the Community Ireland, said businesses now realise the important role to play, thanks in part to the recent climate strikes and the incredible work of people like Greta Thunberg as well as the green waves in politics across Europe.
She said: “Increasingly conscious consumers and employees are now demanding that companies be more environmentally impactful. Just last year, thousands of Amazon employees wrote an open letter to Jeff Bezos calling for action on climate change and earlier this week, they announced their own pledge to be carbon neutral by 2040 and accelerate their efforts to take action so the emergence of the employee as an activist is becoming a major trend.”
So what’s the first step?
Moira said that the first step businesses should take to improve their carbon footprint is measurement.
She said: “Identify all your carbon emission sources and determine the areas of your operation that are carbon-intensive. These will be the areas within your business where you can have a significant impact in reducing your carbon footprint going forward.”
There are a number of organisations out there that will help provide you with the knowledge and tools to measure and manage your carbon and environmental impact. They include Greenhouse Gas Protocol, CDP ‘Carbon Disclosure Project and SEAI Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland.
Record your impact
Moira then recommends the 3 R’s approach: Record, Report and Review your carbon impact. Moira pointed out that non-financial reporting is becoming more popular, and it is essential that businesses ensure the information they are sharing is accurate and complete. She said: “The time for action is now and by communicating to all stakeholders (internal and external) in your operation, you can highlight the actions your organisation is taking to reduce your carbon impact.”
When reviewing your business strategy going forward, Moira suggests that look at how you can incorporate the environment and specifically the consequences of climate change into your day to day decision making. She said: “This is the first step to creating a more resilient company that considers all current and future risks. Additionally, this is the type of statement required to change the culture of your organisation, engaging all your staff and stakeholders to have a greater environmental impact.”
The importance of collaboration
However, Moira said that climate change is one highly complex concept that will require collaboration across businesses.
She said: “No one business has all the answers to the climate challenge and the role business must play. We have to work together, within our own sectors and between sectors, to share our knowledge and skills to unlock some of these solutions to one of the greatest challenges the business world will face.”
A low carbon footprint should be on the agenda of every company in Ireland, Moira said. “Ultimately, it’s about becoming more than just conscious of the environment, companies in all sectors need to face the risks but also the opportunities of transitioning to a low carbon model.”