Climate change is one of the most pressing global challenges of our time. As the danger it poses becomes more apparent and undeniable, there are growing demands for increased accountability. Polluters must be held responsible and encouraged to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. That means more companies must strive to be “climate positive” and go beyond empty carbon reduction pledges.
While many businesses have already affirmed their commitment to achieving net-zero emissions, the majority of industries are not going far enough and are settling for lackluster approaches. But to be climate positive, a business must exceed the expectations of carbon neutrality. It’s no longer sufficient for companies to merely offset emissions with carbon credits. Instead, they must take drastic and immediate action to directly reduce emissions.
However, these reductions need not undermine profits or impede operations. It is possible for climate positivity also to be good for business. But how?
Commit to carbon reporting
As more companies commit to emission reductions, being climate positive must become the new net-zero in order to effectively counteract climate change. But climate positivity is also a strategic business move, investors, customers, and employees alike are actively seeking out environmentally conscious companies that support green innovation.
However, to achieve climate positivity, you first have to understand where your business currently stands. This calls for carbon reporting, also known as carbon accounting, which is the process by which a company calculates its total CO2 emissions. Carbon reporting adds a new level of accountability, as the process involves companies publicly reporting their current emissions and publishing their reduction targets.
The main goal of carbon reporting is to provide a quantifiable measure that a company can be held to so that the company is then aware of the amount it must mitigate in the future. However, with climate positivity, the overarching goal is to directly reduce emissions, not merely offset them with carbon credits.
The Security and Exchange Commission has also issued a proposal to make carbon reporting and other climate risk disclosures mandatory for businesses. So it would be beneficial for organizations to take immediate steps to get ahead of the curve.
Improve office sustainability
One surefire way a company can start to reduce its footprint is by examining its physical office infrastructure. The first area of focus should be on energy efficiency and building structure: choosing a building that is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) accredited helps to validate the environmental footprint of your office and also manage the cost of the space. Sustainable structures will generally improve your footprint and reduce your energy bills.
Sustainable buildings are often designed based on the direction of the sun to maximize natural cooling in the summer and heating in the winter. They can also have green roofs, which are chock full of native vegetation to capture solar energy while creating a habitat for local biodiversity.
Companies can also choose optimized lighting fixtures with built-in passive infrared (PIR) sensors, a more advanced form of motion-sensitive lights. PIR sensors measure heat to determine room occupancy and switch lights on and off.
Furthermore, you can analyze the footprint of your office technology through a Green IT approach, in which a company strives to reduce electronic waste and emissions that originate from its IT infrastructure.
You can get started with green IT by replacing old technology with more energy-efficient models, moving your company’s data from physical hard drives to digital storage on the cloud, and choosing collaborative IT partners that are just as committed to climate-positive habits as your company is.
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Choose sustainable partners
The way your company collaborates with its partners can help to achieve its sustainability goals, while also improving your credentials to qualify for the climate-positive label. Consequently, it’s important for you to set the right standards for your business partners so they can propel your company towards sustainable growth.
For example, partners should subscribe to pro-climate finance schemes whereby stocks are divested from fossil fuels and put towards climate-resilient development. By investing in shares that support the environment, your company and its partners can provide financial backing to green energy initiatives while also directly profiting from them.
To avoid greenwashing, in which an organization claims to care about the environment to achieve good publicity but contradicts that climate positivity internally, partners should also be willing to share their own climate data with you, such as their carbon reporting figures and their ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) scores.
Overall, the most pivotal part of developing and maintaining a climate positive business is to engage with your local community and your workers about pro-climate topics. Providing them with information on sustainable practices will encourage them to take these practices up in their own lives and ultimately provide business partners with the moral incentives to maintain a climate-positive business environment.
As the climate change crisis continues to wreak havoc around the globe—with historic droughts, floods, wildfires, and heatwaves becoming commonplace—it’s more important now than ever for businesses to take action. Soon it will become painfully clear to us all that merely achieving net-zero emissions is not enough to deter the worst impacts of climate change.
The time for climate positivity is now.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by Impakter.com columnists are their own, not those of Impakter.com –In the Featured Photo: Marching against climate change. Photo credit: Unsplash.