What does it mean to be a carbon neutral business? Why are some people sceptical of claims of carbon neutrality? Is being carbon neutral always a good thing?
This article will explore these issues and explain how to do carbon neutrality the right way.
A carbon neutral business is one which has calculated its annual greenhouse emissions and "offset" or "balanced" their impact on the climate by investing in projects designed to save an equivalent amount of greenhouse gases somewhere else. In this way it seeks to have a neutral impact on global warming.
Sounds simple doesn't it? In practice there are a several things to look out for when assessing a claim of carbon neutrality:1. Have ALL the businesses emissions been accounted for?
Your climate strategy should be an integral part of your business strategy, not a "bolt-on" to assuage your conscience. This means you should think about why your business wants to be carbon neutral, how does it fit into your wider strategy and whether it is the best approach for your business. Here are some things to consider:
- How will being carbon neutral help engage your customers and/or your employees with your efforts to reduce your impact on climate change?
- What types of offsetting projects do you want to support and how will they help drive the purpose of your organisation?
- Is investing in offsetting the best way for you to reduce your impact or would it be better to invest the money in energy efficiency measures?
3. Recognise that being carbon neutral doesn't "solve" your impact on the climate
Carbon neutrality is a useful tool in the box to help combat climate change. However, it is just one tool, and it is important to avoid the pitfall of thinking that because you have achieved carbon neutrality you can "tick the climate box and move on". What is most important is to put in place a systematic process for continually understanding, evaluating, reviewing and reducing all your greenhouse gas emissions. This will help ensure that your claims of carbon neutrality are not at risk of accusations of "greenwashing" but more importantly it will help instil a "low-carbon mindset" into your business, which is what is needed to make a permanent positive impact on the climate and prepare your business for the coming low-carbon economy.
Becoming carbon neutral is undoubtedly a good thing to do, if you follow the guidelines in this article and do it well. However, it is important to remember that it is one step in a journey towards rebuilding our relationship with the environment and creating a better way of doing business that helps all people and the planet regenerate and thrive.
Go Climate Positive can help guide you along this journey. Book a conversation with me today to make a start.
Eoin (pronounced like "Ian") is the Chief Carbon Coach and founder of Go Climate Positive. He is a Practitioner member of IEMA (the Institute of Environmental Management) and a sustainability lead on the Cheltenham Economic Recovery Task Force.
Eoin says, "Sustainability is no longer a 'nice to do', it is business critical. My goal is to make it accessible and affordable for every business, however big or small , no matter their market sector."