Once emissions have been offset through purchases of credits in carbon offsetting projects, the next step is to consider how to reduce emissions in the future and draw down offsetting. This step has a number of beneficial outcomes:
- Mitigating the organization’s environmental impact
- Detecting efficiency improvements
- Reducing procurement and operational costs
- Bringing down emission offset costs
There is an overlap between carrying out a materiality analysis and this focused carbon reduction exercise. For an organization with our size and circumstances, the options to reduce carbon are straightforward and relatively easy to implement. For larger organziations, such as multiproduct, multilocation lubricant company with a diverse portfolio of feedstocks and raw materials, the options are more complex.
With that said, this process is an opportunity for staff engagement, so we canvassed our colleagues for their ideas. This emphasizes that it is a collective effort and fosters a sense of ownership, as well as provides an opportunity for team members to scrutinize their working habits and those of the company. Our colleagues’ suggestions encompassed energy saving, resource use, working patterns and, to a lesser extent, waste. Absent was mention of water, which perhaps points to a cultural difference in perception of this strategic resource with some places in the developing world.
Fokus Zukunft recommended a reduction over five years of our Scope 1 and 2 emissions, from 72 metric tons CO2 equivalent per year to less than 60 tons in a linear trajectory producing a 21% cut in emissions. This is in accordance with the 2 degrees Celsius target set out by the Paris Agreement.
What are the Science Based Targets?
The Science Based Targets are reduction goals for greenhouse gas emissions calculated on a scientific basis and in line with the Paris climate agreement’s target of 2 degrees Celsius. The overall goal of the Science Based Target initiative is to achieve a low-emission economy despite the steadily increasing global population.
“One way we are already limiting our footprint is we have motion-activated lights in the office, and some of us may be making similar efforts at home to use energy-efficient bulbs and keeping lights off in rooms we aren’t using or don’t need.”
“We tend to leave our computers on overnight for maintenance purposes, but if we are on a maintenance schedule maybe we can shut down most nights instead.”
“Using the Ecosia search engine could help as they operate on renewable energy servers and use the money earned from searches to plant trees. They estimate an average of 45 searches will plant one tree.”
“Explore sustainable web hosting options. From what I’ve read, there are some web hosting companies that purchase renewable energy credits, and others donate to carbon offset projects.”
“Reduce or eliminate square footage of our office, especially since we aren’t using it. That eliminates the energy we expend on heating, cooling, and maintaining the space.”
“Using sustainable web hosting services.”
“Unplug your laptop/desktop computer, printer, and monitor(s) after work. Some of these devices continue to draw electricity from the outlet even when they are powered off.”
“I have all my doodads plugged into one surge protector, and when I finish work for the day I just have to unplug the surge protector and that takes care of everything.”
“You can even unplug your modem before you go to bed if no one in the house will be needing the internet throughout the night.”
“Replace lightbulbs in the office and at home with LED lightbulbs.”
“I would be in favor of going paperless as much as possible. Working remotely has been a good adjustment for this.”
“I also like the idea of going paperless. Maybe, for those who like to print and mark up their edits, the money saved on paper, pens, etc., could be repurposed toward buying those people an apple pencil or stylus for their tablet/phone where they could digitally do their mark-ups.”
“We could consider changing to a printing vendor that prints on recycled paper with natural inks.”
“Using recycled paper for our printer.”
“Buying refillable coffee pods for the office coffee maker, instead of using disposable ones.”
“One thing we can consider as we decide on whether we want to return to an office or stay remote is a hybrid model. (We could) work from home on Mondays and Fridays and go into the office Tuesday through Thursday. Maybe … we go in on newsletter production days and stay home on Wednesday and Friday.”
“As for ideas on how we can reduce our carbon footprint, I think that continuing to work remotely is a huge part of that. It will cut down on employee commutes; I’ve barely driven since we switched to remote work last year. It also cuts back the need to heat and cool the office space.”
“Choose to attend meetings/conferences remotely whenever possible. Encourage and allow employees to continue working from home.”
“Use your PC to take notes and set reminders, rather than recording everything with pen and paper.”
“If an employee gets a new laptop/desktop computer and they want to discard their old one, connect them with a local PC recycling company so their device can be recycled. Examples could be reducing travel, becoming paperless, finding out whether our server host is powered by renewable energy. Every bit helps.”