Seven Ways Business Can Drive Climate Action and Environmental Sustainability
by Lolade Odeyemi
Corporations, large, medium, and small, play vital roles in our world, producing nearly everything we need and providing services that get us through our daily routines. Nevertheless, the process of catering to our needs comes with severe implications on our climate due to emissions from production and the entire supply chain, commercial energy use and industrial waste. While some organizations are well aware of the impacts of business operations on the climate and the environment, not many have successfully carved a clear path to minimizing their role in climate change. This article outlines seven steps to guide businesses on taking climate action and fostering environmental sustainability.
1. Recognizing Your Role in Climate Change
As an organization, taking your place in the collective fight against climate change requires identifying the role you play. Only then can your organization take an actual stand to help repress the effects of the apparent threat to humanity and the earth. Some businesses may argue that commercial activities like greenhouse gas emissions, energy use, and industrial waste that contribute to climate change are inevitable. However, ignoring the glaring reality of the imminent danger and the need to modify business processes would only worsen the impact of climate change on society. Without a doubt, tackling climate change will be no mean feat. Still, organizations taking responsibility is a step in the right direction because business operations across different industries account for a large percentage of emissions in our society. This step will set the stage for the necessary actions like measuring emissions, setting emissions reduction targets and creating a climate action plan.
2. Measure Your Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Recognizing that your business activities contribute to climate change would create some sense of responsibility to uncover specific details about your organization's role through measuring your carbon footprint. It is highly imperative to measure the amount of greenhouse gas emissions your business generates yearly. At the same time, this might sound like an arduous task for an organization, especially with understanding measurement standards and making accurate assessments. Nonetheless, some reputable establishments across Canada offer expert services and recommendations on Climate Action to guide companies on assessing their emissions and implementing measures best suited to their businesses. For instance, ClimateWise Business Network, an arm of Windfall Centre in York Region, Ontario, has helped several companies in and around York Region set and achieve sustainability goals through measuring emissions and implementing strategies to reduce emissions to the bare minimum.
3. Set SMART Emission Reduction Targets
After measuring emissions, organizations need to set Specific emission reduction targets that are Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. Anything less would mean going on a wild-goose chase. Information derived from evaluating your organization's emission performance provides a lucid picture of the different aspects of business operations that contribute the most to emissions. Most importantly, this lays the foundation for setting realistic reduction goals and defining a path to probable solutions that your organization can adopt to reduce emissions from the identified sources.
4. Develop a Climate Action Plan
Don't stop at just setting emission reduction targets; go the whole nine yards and create a climate action plan that embodies your organization's complete vision for championing climate action and earmarks human and financial resources to drive the vision. Also, a climate action plan should capture long-term sustainability goals, cost-effective climate action measures to be implemented per time, cost analysis of set goals and a system in place to track progress and revise strategies if need be.
5. Modify Product Cycle
In the manufacturing sector, supply chain activities constitute a considerable ratio of emissions produced by organizations annually. If you manufacture goods, you can minimize the impact of your organization's operations on the environment by modifying your product cycle. This can be achieved by researching, analyzing, and adopting cost-effective, eco-friendly production processes and materials and sourcing raw materials locally to reduce emissions from logistics.
6. Integrate Climate Action into CSR
Since Corporate Social Responsibility, CSR encompasses various practices by organizations that positively impact society, actions that protect the environment and bolster sustainability should top the list of CSR objectives. By extension, this benefits your organization in revenue growth and brand repositioning as consumers tend to gravitate more towards environmentally responsible organizations.
7. Track Progress
Implementing a Climate action plan is a huge but essential undertaking for any organization and must be monitored to ascertain effectiveness. Once a climate action plan is set in motion, performance and progress reports should be produced at specific periods to check the success rate and determine whether new strategies are needed.
The world is already squirming from the impact of climate change, and organizations are not excluded. Many businesses in different parts of the world face challenges resulting from the increased spate of climate change like extreme weather conditions and natural disasters. The Price of insurance is on the rise, costs of raw materials, labour, and logistics are soaring too, disrupting the supply chain and leaving businesses with uncertain futures. To this end, the need for organizations to embrace climate action cannot be overemphasized if they must sustain productivity.
Are you within or around York Region and would like to assess your organization's emission performance to begin your journey to sustainability?
Visit ClimateWise Business Network to find out more.