A greener business starts by reviewing its carbon footprint
The carbon footprint of businesses and consumers is at the top of the agenda as we witness destructive forces, such as global warming, attack our environment. As weather conditions jump to extremes and global temperatures rise, how can assessing your carbon footprint help towards the fight against climate change?
There are vital signs that the UK is experiencing climate change unlike ever before because of C02 emissions. According to the State of the UK Climate report, 2020 was the third warmest, fifth wettest and eighth sunniest on record. The time is ripe for businesses to take note of their C02 output, and actively work to reduce their carbon footprint.
What’s a carbon footprint?
Carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases (GHS) generated from operating your business and delivering your services.
The core greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide (C02) methane and nitrous oxide of which CO2 is the most common. Carbon dioxide equivalent (C02e) is the term often used to address these gases collectively. Many of these gases occur naturally but can be accelerated by human activity, such as air travel, burning fossil fuels to create non-renewable energy, or generating non-recyclable waste.
Increased greenhouse gases are harmful to the environment as they trap heat in the atmosphere, also known as the greenhouse effect. This then has a domino effect in the form of climate change, such as global warming, which causes higher sea levels, extreme weather conditions and air pollution.
Why should I review my carbon footprint?
By reviewing your carbon footprint, you can calculate how many metric tons of C02 your business generates, which is how C02 is measured. You can then use this data to offset your carbon footprint, reduce it and report on it.
Offset carbon footprint – The main purpose for reviewing your carbon footprint is measuring C02 emissions, and then calculating how to offset your carbon footprint, also known as a carbon offset. Offsetting your carbon emissions can be done by supporting carbon offset projects or switching to a renewable energy source that emits zero carbon to compensate for your emissions.
Reduce carbon footprint – Using data from your carbon footprint review can help understand what activities generate greenhouse gases, and how to actively reduce this. Reducing your carbon footprint, rather than offsetting your carbon footprint is healthier for the environment as you can stop harmful gases from entering the atmosphere in the first place.
Report carbon footprint – If you operate a sustainable brand, you may choose to voluntarily report on your carbon footprint. From 1 April 2019, it became a legal requirement for quoted companies to report on their global energy use and large businesses to disclose their UK annual energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.
How is a carbon footprint reviewed?
A carbon footprint can be reviewed by a carbon footprint calculator, many of which are available free of use online. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) also provides guidance on conversion factors for greenhouse gas reporting for UK organisations to report on greenhouse gas emissions. Environmental consultants can advise on sustainability initiatives for your business, such as which activities release greenhouse gas emissions.
A basic carbon footprint assessment is made up of the following steps:
- Measuring direct emissions: Your direct C02 output, such as fuel combustion from company vehicles
- Measuring indirect emissions: Your indirect C02 output, such as from the production of electricity to power company operations. Take note of indirect emissions produced outside of company operations, such as your extended supply chain.
After reviewing your carbon footprint, you should set your sights on reducing emissions by using a combination of methods like switching to electric vehicles, reducing waste, and transitioning to recyclable materials.
Whether you take small strides or long leaps, each change that you roll out will help build a greener business.
This guest post is written by Jon Munnery, insolvency and restructuring expert at UK Liquidators, a provider of company liquidation services for businesses that can’t pay company debt.
To find out what Postworks is doing to decrease our Carbon Footprint have a read of our article