How to Successfully Implement a Carbon Reduction Strategy Powered by Data
At its core, carbon reduction is a process where businesses and individuals take direct action to decrease their environmental footprint by changing their approach to current activities that emit greenhouse gases.
This could be a matter of choosing a more sustainable supplier, switching to a renewable energy source, reviewing a manufacturing method, or any other efficiency that lowers the amount of carbon being released into the atmosphere.
In our last blog, we explored how businesses can successfully and accurately measure their carbon footprint, and why this is a fundamental first step of any sustainability project. Without a solid foundation based on actionable insights, the next, and arguably most significant step — reduction — is infinitely more difficult to complete.
Why carbon reduction is important for businesses
Carbon reduction provides a means for businesses to make a direct and permanent impact on their environmental footprint, which in turn contributes to slowing down climate change.
As businesses start reducing their environmental footprint, this will also have a proven impact on a brand level. Customers, partners and investors show a strong affinity toward more sustainable brands. Studies show that 85% of consumers around the world have changed their consumption behaviour to reduce their personal carbon footprints. Sustainability can also have a strong impact on employee attitudes and perception, with nearly 40% of millennials having said yes to a position because of a company’s sustainability efforts.
Reduction is the most important step businesses can take to get closer to achieving their carbon sustainability objectives. When emission levels can be reduced no further, organisations can then explore investing in carbon offsetting projects to “neutralise” unavoidable emissions. Offsetting — which we explore in more detail in our next blog — refers to the process of supporting environmental projects designed to remove or prevent carbon emissions from entering the atmosphere.
How can businesses reduce their carbon footprints?
To get started with a successful carbon reduction strategy, it’s first important to understand that emissions are categorised into three distinct categories, known as “scopes”:
Scope 1: direct emissions created through sources controlled or owned by an organisation, for example equipment and vehicles and fuel combustion associated with them. Scope 1 emissions can be reduced by reviewing and improving internal company processes across manufacturing, shipping and office environments.
Scope 2: indirect emissions from purchased energy. Scope 2 carbon reduction strategies revolve around purchasing or replacing energy sources with cleaner alternatives such as solar, wind, hydropower, and geothermal where available.
Scope 3: all other emissions indirectly related to an organisation and its supply chain, including customers, and its employees. Supply chain emissions are often the biggest contributor to an organisation’s carbon footprint, but can also be the most difficult to measure and, as a result, reduce. Scope 3 carbon reduction strategies can revolve around areas like reducing emissions from transportation and distribution within the supply chain.
How technology can help you reduce your business’s carbon footprint across all three scopes
As with Scope 1 and 2, carbon reduction across Scope 3 is only possible with a foundation built on actionable and insightful data.
A data-based approach to carbon reduction allows you to be more targeted, efficient and accountable as you work towards building a more sustainable business.
Sustainability platforms allow businesses to gain a firm understanding of their carbon emissions across key areas of the business and its wider supply chain. These platforms enable data to be gathered from multiple sources and use established methodologies to calculate emissions. From here, businesses can then build a sustainability strategy based on data, track progress, showcase their success, and ultimately ensure they’re making the right reduction decisions.
It’s crucial to the future of the planet that businesses address the impact they have on the environment, and take positive steps to make their carbon footprints smaller. Carbon reduction remains the most impactful and important step that businesses can take to pursue their sustainability objectives, but brands should always ensure these initiatives are guided and demonstrated by the analysis of data.
With increasing societal and governmental pressures for all companies to become more sustainable, reduction has to be the priority. However, in most instances, it’s impossible for organisations to reduce carbon emissions to zero. These ‘residual’ emissions can be addressed by investing in carbon offsetting projects such as reforestation, biochar and direct air capture. In our next article, we’ll explore how companies can balance or neutralise their remaining emissions by investing in offsetting projects like those mentioned above.