One of the most severe threats facing global civilisation in the 21st century is climate change. Given the urgency of the latest IPCC report, there is no denying that we need to rapidly reduce our carbon footprint, i.e. mitigate the amount of carbon dioxide emissions released into the atmosphere within the next decade rapidly.
While the extent and scope of climate change may seem overwhelming, there is a lot we can do to salvage the situation. Corporations and organisations of all kinds can play a critical role in avoiding climate disasters.
Corporations, as a whole, are actually responsible for an enormous percentage of global emissions. According to the Guardian, 20 companies are responsible for a third of greenhouse gas emissions.
Not only that, the EPA estimates that Industry alone is responsible for 23% of greenhouse gas emissions. These figures should demonstrate the tremendous potential that companies have in mitigating the effects of climate change by reducing their carbon footprint as much as possible.
There is no getting around it: climate change is a global problem. According to the latest IPCC report, if the world cannot rapidly curb emissions, we will quickly run out of viable options to adapt to its effects. Hence, companies worldwide have a vital role to play in reducing their carbon footprint and helping the world achieve its necessary emissions targets.
In this piece we have compiled the ten best ways to help companies reduce their carbon footprint, but first, a quick explanation of what carbon footprint entails.
Your organisation’s carbon footprint is the total carbon emissions (greenhouse gas emissions) generated by all of your combined business activities, the products and services you use and even the use of your products by your customers.
Therefore, any greenhouse gases emitted (carbon dioxide, methane, etc.) as a result of business activities fall under your company's carbon footprint. This includes every decision, action, and purchase an individual or entity makes.
There are many ways to calculate a company's carbon footprint. Here at Consequence, however, we use an automated process to analyse your financial transactions. Your financial transactions provide all the necessary information regarding the emission impact of your company's activities.
This provides you with a much clearer picture of the emissions your company generates. Then, you can begin to take action to effectively reduce your carbon footprint.
With that said, let’s dive into the ten ways to reduce your company’s carbon footprint.
1.) Reduce Energy Use
In many cases, the total energy usage of a company will be one of the most significant aspects of its carbon footprint. This is simply because burning fossil fuels is responsible for nearly all energy production.
In 2020, fossil fuels still accounted for 84% of the world's energy. So chances are, the majority of the energy usage by your company involves fossil fuels too.
As such, the most straightforward and first thing your business should do is take steps to reduce this energy usage as much as possible. Not only is this good for the planet, but it can also help cut costs, making it advantageous for your bottom line, too.
Believe it or not, simply adopting eco-friendly practices such as turning off the lights, reducing your A/C usage, or installing energy-efficient lighting can have a huge impact on your company's carbon footprint.
2.) Transition To Renewable Energy Sources
While many actions can significantly reduce your company's energy usage, they obviously cannot reduce it in its entirety. When you look at all the sources of greenhouse gas emissions, burning fossil fuels to produce energy generates the vast majority of them.
However, your company can drastically reduce this aspect of its carbon footprint by investing in or transitioning away from fossil fuels into renewable energy sources.
3.) Reduce Business-Related Travel
Besides energy production, transportation is another significant source of greenhouse gas emissions. This is, again, because most forms of transportation, whether by road, rail, air, or sea are powered by fossil fuels. Travelling to some degree or another may be unavoidable for your business. However, there are still several ways to reduce this source of emissions.
For instance, wherever possible, use trains or alternative forms of transportation instead of airline travel. Doing so could cut your transportation-related emissions by half. You could also offer your employees incentives to use public transit for their commutes or business-related travel.
4.) Adopt Remote Work Policies Where Possible
Your carbon footprint covers your employee's daily commute.
Thus, allowing your employees to work from home, wherever and as much as possible can help significantly reduce your organisation's carbon footprint.
In the U.K. pre-pandemic, 67% of workers use their cars as a primary means of getting to work every day. These numbers ultimately mean millions of cars are on the road every day, generating an enormous amount of GHG emissions when they don't necessarily need to be.
A company can make huge strides rapidly in reducing its carbon footprint by implementing a flexible work from home policy wherever possible.
5.) Reduce the Footprint of Your Supply Chain
Another huge factor in a company's carbon footprint is its supply chain. The upstream supply chain (i.e all the company's suppliers) is where a bulk of an organisation's emissions originate from beyond its own energy usage.
As we mentioned, transportation is one of the most significant sectors responsible for global emissions. Much of that transport has to do with supply chains around the world.
In the end, companies need to examine each stage of their supply chain and evaluate changes that they can make to reduce their carbon footprint. Many large corporations are doing this by only working with those suppliers that meet social and climate standards.
6.) Reduce Waste
Strategies such as reducing your organisation's energy usage and reducing business-related travel are hugely consequential.
However, reducing the overall waste of your organisation is another subtle but powerful strategy to reduce your carbon footprint.
Ultimately, all the office supplies your organisation uses daily have their own carbon footprint. Therefore, reducing, reusing, and recycling as much as possible will allow your company to cut down on the emissions associated with producing this material.
7.) Use Eco-Friendly Web Hosting
Believe it or not, web hosting is a very energy-intensive operation. An estimated 2% of global emissions are due to the internet and the data centres necessary to help it function.
Nowadays, virtually every company or organisation does have some digital presence or extensively uses the internet.
As such, another viable strategy to reduce your organisation's carbon footprint is to transition into more eco-friendly web hosting. If your company relies on an external provider for its web hosting needs, consider making the switch to a greener hosting company.
If your company hosts its own web servers, consider replacing your servers with more energy-efficient equipment to reduce the energy usage of your web hosting.
8.) Support Environmental Initiatives
One of the primary reasons it is so difficult for organisations to reduce their carbon footprint is because society (at present) is fundamentally dependent upon fossil fuel usage. Therefore, transitioning towards a net-zero future is no simple feat.
As such, organisations looking to reduce their carbon footprint should support environmental initiatives as much as possible. Apple, for example, has partnered with Conservation International to replant 27,000 mangrove trees in Colombia.
9.) Educate Your Employees
Management should not feel alone in its efforts to reduce its carbon footprint. Your employees also can (and must) play a vital role. This means that educating the members of your organisation is essential to helping you reduce your overall carbon footprint.
As you've seen, many of these reduction strategies, one way or another, involve collective action across your organisation. So, naturally, the company must encourage employees to actively participate in the execution of these reduction strategies and help them succeed.
10.) Purchase Carbon Offsets
There is a certain amount of GHG emissions that are still unavoidable as of this time. Unfortunately, until clean energy infrastructure is more widespread and the burning of fossil fuels continues, this will remain the truth.
Nevertheless, in addition to your organisation or company implementing the strategies mentioned above to reduce your emissions as much as possible, you need to also leverage carbon offsets to account for the unavoidable emissions. You can find out the cost of carbon offsetting here.
Consequence to the rescue
Consequence.world offers the world’s most intelligent carbon accounting platform for Net-Zero. With the Consequence platform, you can automate your carbon footprint data collection, calculation, and reporting workflows in one place.
Start intelligent tracking, reductions, and reporting of your carbon footprint.
Visit www.consequence.world to get started.