What does it mean to be a carbon-neutral business? 

Charlotte Miller

What does it mean to be a carbon-neutral business? 

Your carbon footprint is the total amount of carbon dioxide that is produced by all of your activities, including driving, using electricity at home, and more. Being “carbon neutral” implies that the quantity of carbon dioxide released into the environment by your own activities, your company’s operations, or your country’s economy equals the amount you have offset via other methods. You may lower your carbon dioxide emission by changing to an electric vehicle or installing solar panels on your house.

Achieving carbon neutrality implies that the environmental consequences of your carbon dioxide emission are net neutral, and it may help mitigate the effects of climate change. Globally average temperatures rise as a result of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, which also contribute to rising sea levels, shifting weather patterns, and other aspects of climate change.

Your carbon footprint most likely isn’t zero except if you live completely off the grid or run your firm totally on renewable energy. You may use calculators to determine your carbon footprint. Additionally, there are actions you may do to either directly lower or indirectly balance the carbon dioxide you release into the atmosphere. You may immediately minimize your carbon footprint by switching to renewable energy sources like wind, solar, or geothermal heating, as well as by bicycling or walking instead of driving.

Investments in carbon offsets, which support initiatives to reduce global carbon emissions, are another option available to both individuals and corporations (just not your own emissions). You purchase carbon credits when you fund a carbon offset project. One metric ton of carbon dioxide is equal to one carbon credit. Given that flying generates a significant amount of emissions, carbon offsetting for people often concentrates on the airline sector. Each passenger on a one-way flight from Chicago to New York City produces around 630 pounds of carbon dioxide or about one-third of a metric ton of emissions.

Planting trees, restoring wetlands, and managing farms are a few examples of carbon offset initiatives. So, what can businesses do in particular to offset this? 

Full Lifecycle Approach 

Kathryn McDavid, the owner of the Editor’s Pick suggests using the “The full life-cycle approach, which serves as the starting point for creating Science-Based Goals, is at the highly ambitious end of the spectrum. With this strategy, you accept responsibility for all emissions, direct and indirect, associated with your product, including those resulting from its manufacturing, transportation, storage, sale, usage, and disposal of its raw materials.”

This is a thorough method that calls for significant resources and an understanding of your value chain and the emissions it produces. When businesses choose this course of action, they often need to set the deadline well in advance since it is both time-consuming and sometimes difficult to comprehend.

Depending on the degree of influence your organization has over these emissions, emissions are categorized as Scope 1 (direct), Scope 2 (energy indirect), or Scope 3 (other indirect) emission levels under the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, the most commonly used greenhouse gas generally accepted accounting standards in the world. 

For others, what could be direct emissions for your business may be indirect emissions for you. For your business, a Scope 3 emission can be waste disposal. The disposal of garbage, on the other hand, is regarded as a direct emission source by the waste contractor.

The life-cycle approach may consequently result in “double counting,” since other participants in the value chain may also be attempting to reduce or make up for the emissions they are responsible for. 

There wouldn’t be any double counting if each firm just recorded its direct emissions. However, if the garbage disposal company in the case above agrees to offset its own carbon emissions, you will be “carbon positive,” meaning that you will have offset more emissions than you have produced. 

However, it often makes sense to divide the load by asking your customers and suppliers to consider their own effects. By doing this, you establish a network of businesses that collaborate to achieve carbon neutrality throughout your whole value chain.

You must at the very least address the emissions that your business directly causes (Scope 1) and the indirect emissions brought on by power purchases if you want to make any kind of carbon neutrality claim (Scope 2).

 It’s optional to include Scope 3 emissions in your commitment, and various businesses may decide to include different sources based on what is relevant to their business or sector. For instance, if transportation emissions have a disproportionately large impact on your business, you might decide to include them in your boundaries and claim carbon-neutral transportation.

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Affix solar PV (photovoltaic) panels to your roof.

Candice Moses, the owner of Information suggests utilizing solar panels. “Clean, carbon-free energy produced by solar PV panels may be used locally, stored in a battery for later use, or sold back to the power grid. In the future, you could even be able to use a peer-to-peer trading network to sell energy to your neighbors. Your investment may pay for itself by saving you money with a properly sized and fitted system in 4-5 years.” 

She continues; “Ask several nearby businesses for quotes to put solar PV panels on your roof if you own the property where your company is located.”

Inform your team, clients, and supply chain of your activities.

Client According to Earth’s Climate Snapshot 2019, 70% believe that more urgent action is needed to address the climate issue. According to a 2017 PWC poll, 65% of individuals want to work for a firm with a strong commitment to social responsibility. Although there is certainly a rise in concern about climate change, many individuals are unsure of what to do. Perhaps by explaining what you’re doing, you might draw in more clients and employees.

Include a statement on your website outlining your primary environmental effects and the steps you are doing to mitigate them.

Purchase only from companies that are combating climate change.

An excellent beginning step is to lessen your company’s carbon footprint, but what about the unseen emissions that are trapped in your supply chain network? One of the most effective steps you can take to hasten the shift to a low-carbon economy is to use your buying power to encourage other companies to lower their own carbon footprint.

Find out what steps your suppliers are taking to lessen their carbon footprint.

If they do nothing, provide them with instructions and let them know that you prefer to only deal with vendors that are addressing climate change.

If they keep doing nothing, go to a different supplier who has stronger sustainability credentials and explain your decision.

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