Article | March 22, 2021
“With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility”
– Voltaire (François-Marie Arouet)
We, humans, had completely buried this quote until it was brought back to life recently. Business leaders should remember this quote as it perfectly fits into the environmental-business perspective that we are presently facing.
If the world has to tackle the problem of climate change or come even close to achieving that goal, businesses and industries will have to play a key role. Almost a quarter, or 23% to be precise, of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, come directly from industries. This number rises to 29.6% if we combine indirect emissions too.
When looking for causes of climate change, the private sector is often linked to. Minimizing your carbon footprint appears to be the year's buzzword, but where can businesses begin with such an ambiguous task? How do we assess progress? Peter Drucker wrote the premise of an answer back in 1954: "What gets measured, gets managed."
If a business really wants to become more sustainable, the first step should be to try to understand its current situation and begin tracking its carbon emissions. Measuring carbon emissions is a difficult problem. Major businesses that do not have carbon monitoring and reduction programs have become the exception.
Recognizing and measuring CO2 emissions aids in the identification of excessive energy consumption and other inefficiencies. Most of the time, lowering greenhouse gas emissions goes hand in hand with making a business's processes more efficient and cost-effective.
Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions: What Do Businesses Gain?
In addition to the long-term environmental benefits that will help us in saving our planet, organizations can also benefit from the positive impacts of greenhouse gas emission reduction. Some of the top benefits of effective emission management are as follows.
When it comes to cost reductions, simply minimizing your energy consumption reduces both your organization's carbon footprint and its operating expenses. According to a 2016 Energy Star report, the owner of Kimberly-Clark Berkley Mill invested $350,000, which generated yearly savings of $160,000 and a rapid return on investment (ROI) of just over one and a half years when LED lighting was installed to replace the fluorescent and HID lighting that was traditionally used.
With a 20-fold rise in global climate change regulations since 1997, securing proactive regulatory compliance is much more important than ever in the minds of corporate leadership, public spheres, and stakeholders – and it's only becoming more important. Adopting an effective greenhouse gas emission reduction program, as well as tracking and reporting on progress, is essential for businesses to adopt in order to maintain operations and avoid penalties.
Improved External Relations
Consumer spending power has an enormous impact on the process of shaping organizational action. In the eyes of the public, the process of committing to responsibility in the domains of broader sustainability and greenhouse gas emissions reduction is a significant credibility boost. When your company takes proactive steps to reduce carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions, the resulting increase in the quality and depth of relationships with potential partners and external business connections is priceless.
Enhanced Stakeholder Relationships
Along with a stronger relationship with the audience, the influence of transparent sustainability indicators and performance has the potential to strengthen crucial relationships with stakeholders. More investors than ever are shifting capital away from carbon-heavy, secretive businesses and toward companies that have decided to be open, proactive, and honest regarding their greenhouse gas emissions management within the sustainability world and beyond. Emission Sources Defined in Business Operations Within a business's operation chain, emission sources are classified into three categories. These scopes are established so that businesses can trace the source of their greenhouse gas emissions and modify their operations to minimize their carbon footprint.
Emission scope is defined as follows:
Scope 1 Emission
Scope 1 emissions are directly caused by business operations. Organizations with fossil fuel-burning vehicle fleets, for example, are directly liable for carbon emissions by burning those fossil fuels.
Scope 2 Emission
Scope 2 emissions are caused by an organization purchasing energy (e.g., electricity, heat, or air conditioning) produced by a process that emits greenhouse gases. A scope 2 emission is, for example, electricity generated by burning coal that a business later purchases. Because the company consumes this energy, they must record the emissions generated when it was generated.
Scope 3 Emissions
Scope 3 emissions are not caused by a company's direct activities. Other entities in a company's value chain are responsible for these emissions. Scope 3 emissions for one organization could be scope 1 and 2 emissions for another. A company that manufactures products, for example, would have scope 3 emissions from a company that eventually disposes of those items. Scope 3 is responsible for most of a company's emissions, accounting for 65% to 95% of a company's carbon footprint. Currently, reporting scope 3 emissions is optional for businesses. Organizations must, however, start tracking their scope 3 emissions since this is where tremendous reductions in carbon emissions can occur.
How Are Large Enterprises Measuring and Reducing Their Carbon Footprints?
Larger enterprises, like Apple and ExxonMobil, have begun to provide scope 3 emissions data. Other companies are collaborating with their supply chain to build collaborative initiatives among companies to report these emissions. Businesses have begun to cooperate even outside of supply chains. Competitors in the same industry have started to form partnerships to solve the issue of measuring their carbon footprints. Because these organizations often share manufacturers and suppliers, they have decided to deal with the issue together.
Other businesses manage environmental sustainability in a different manner.Enterprises in the agriculture industry have pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, recycle, and provide resources and information to smaller agricultural organizations wanting to go green.Many of the world’s leading auto manufacturers help by producing vehicles that are more environmentally friendly and have the better fuel economy. Others are creating alternative-fuel cars or investing in sustainable energy projects.
The major retailers, manufacturers, and software companies have all made efforts to reduce their carbon footprint in different ways. Many multinational enterprises are adopting more sustainable business practices, such as using renewable energy and recycled materials in product manufacturing.
How Can Small Businesses Seek Help Measuring Their Carbon Footprints?
For the time being, many small businesses are finding it difficult to gather data on all these emissions that are beyond their control. According to the BBC, only 10% of more than 1,000 organizations surveyed in the United Kingdom keep track of their carbon footprint. Moreover, one in every five companies does not understand what the term "net-zero" means and a third really hasn't sought any help to make their company more sustainable. Exploring available information on measuring emissions data is the best approach for small businesses to understand more about the ways they can reduce their carbon footprint. The EPA Center for Corporate Climate Leadership includes a wealth of resources to assist small business owners in measuring and reporting their emissions. Business owners can learn how to establish a greenhouse gas inventory, measure their emissions, collaborate with sustainable suppliers, and gather data to develop sustainable solutions.
Small businesses can also utilize a carbon footprint calculator to determine the quantity of emissions generated by their activities. Once company owners realize how much carbon they are emitting, they can start to tackle where it is coming from and make the necessary modifications. The most important thing that business owners can do is to always look for ways to improve their business's sustainability. Additional information will be made available to help company owners as they seek guidance on how to minimize their carbon footprint.
Best Practices for Companies to Achieve Net Zero and Stay Profitable
Transitioning to net zero is such a demanding task that many businesses believe it is impossible to do while retaining profit margins. As a result, many businesses concentrate on low-hanging fruit and short-term alternatives, like offloading emissions onto others by divesting from high-carbon-emitting companies. Businesses, on the other hand, can start by creating a greenhouse gas inventory to monitor their carbon emissions. Here are just a few of the many ways we found that could help your business.
Cut Emissions Across the Whole Value Chain
For most businesses, the majority of emissions and the possibilities for climate action lie in "scope 3 assets". These aren't owned or managed by the reporting company, but they add to the business's value chain indirectly. Businesses must take action on scope 3 emissions in order to successfully cut emissions.
Use Sustainable Web Hosting Services
Hosting services are the silent consumers of fossil fuels. Until you host it yourself, your website is most certainly hosted on a data server in a warehouse that runs on fossil fuels. Data servers use a lot of energy since they have to be turned on and kept cool all the time. Renewable Energy Certificates are acquired by sustainable hosting providers in order to claim their renewable energy utilization.
Tackle the Root Causes
The areas of major emissions are often not the most effective sites for action. It is found that businesses are measuring emissions in order to determine underlying causes, either inside their own processes or anywhere in the value chain. Big tech businesses evaluate power efficiency down to the code level in their AI and cloud implementations and collaborate with chip manufacturers to reduce energy usage in the use of their products.
Don’t Automatically Defund High-Carbon Business
Investors are often enticed to enhance their portfolio of low-carbon activities merely by rearranging their capital allocation. However, when it comes to really incentivize reduction, a more effective technique is to engage in activities that presently generate high carbon emissions while giving out a clear and urgent roadmap to change. Some activists have realized this idea and are shifting their demands from divestment to a managed shift of high-carbon businesses.
Purchase Carbon Offsets
Carbon offsets are a type of trade. When you buy an offset, you are contributing to projects that decrease greenhouse gas emissions. A carbon calculator can help you calculate your travel carbon footprint and the monetary cost of those emissions. Remember that carbon offsets do not decrease the quantity of carbon in the atmosphere; rather, they serve as a balancing agent to neutralize the carbon emitted. Carbon offsets could be tax-deductible based on the company from whom you purchase them.
Many prominent brands, from Amazon to L'Oréal, have started to make significant investments in renewable energy and commitments to reduce emissions in their freight and logistics operations. Being mindful of how your activities contribute to greenhouse gas emissions can assist you in minimizing your carbon footprint. With the above-mentioned methods under your belt, you will be able to support the environment that we live in a while simultaneously pushing your organization to the next level of success. Don't miss the opportunity to get involved in energy-efficiency and sustainability initiatives for your company because the newest generation of consumers, millennials, have $2.45 trillion in spending power and are eager to spend more on brands that share their values of going green.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are scope 3 emissions?
The Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Standard divides a company's greenhouse gas emissions into three "scopes." Scope 1 emissions are those emitted directly from owned or controlled sources. Scope 2 emissions are those caused by the production of bought energy. Scope 3 emissions encompass all indirect emissions (not included in scope 2) that happen in the reporting company's value chain, both in upstream and downstream emissions.
What are product life cycle emissions?
All emissions related to the production and utilize a single product, from the cradle to the grave, are referred to as the product life cycle emissions and include emissions from raw materials, manufacturing, transportation, storage, sale, usage, and disposal.
How can industries reduce global warming?
By implementing passive or sustainable energy-based heating and cooling systems, increasing energy efficiency, and solving other important concerns such as methane leaks, the industry can cut its emissions by 7.3 Gt per year. New food production technologies have the capability to cut emissions by 6.7 Gt per year
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