Earlier this month Positive Luxury released Understanding Carbon – a paper that demystifies sustainability’s most important topic – with a view to helping business leaders understand the role they must play in addressing climate change. In the paper, Positive Luxury and their knowledge partner Volans unpack the challenges in measuring emissions and explain what can be done to reduce or remove those emissions.
The paper can be read in full here
To explore the issues the report raised in greater detail we hosted a webinar with five sustainability leaders: Diana Verde Nieto (Positive Luxury Co-Founder), Pauline Op de Beeck (Business Development Manager, Carbon Trust), Louise Kjellerup Roper (CEO of Volans), Tim Field (Founder and board member of the Agricology project) and Dale Vince (Founder of Ecotricity and Skydiamond) to explore the topic of carbon and the positive actions businesses can do today. We have created a summary of the main points for you below.
Volans’ Louise Roper started the webinar with the quote:
our general view is that climate is eating the world
A play on Marc Andreessen’s infamous 2011 quote ‘software is eating the world’, the implication of this is that investors are starting to see businesses that are not on top of their sustainability agenda as being in the same position as businesses that didn’t have a digital strategy a decade ago.
There are multiple reasons for this. Investors are now setting radical net zero commitments, meaning that any company looking for a credit line will need to know how to measure their carbon output and have a solid plan to reduce it. Without this it will become next to impossible for them to find funding in the next few years.
Alongside this, consumer expectations are higher than ever. A new generation of consumers has emerged that is more educated and passionate about the climate – and their spending power is only growing. With the abundance of sustainable products on the shelves today, businesses that aren’t managing their carbon will quickly lose customers to their competitors that do.
Finally, a legislative push is also coming. In the UK, EU, and USA, governments are developing a legislative programme that will follow a carrot and stick approach of rewarding low carbon companies with favourable rates and funding whilst punishing unsustainable companies with restrictions and higher taxes.
With investors, consumers and governments all putting increasing value on carbon emissions, it is not dramatic to say that knowledge of carbon and sustainability issues is now essential for survival.
Measuring Carbon emissions is rightly seen as a great place for businesses to start their sustainability journey. Despite its reputation as an ‘easy’ metric, businesses setting out to calculate their baseline carbon footprint can find this process to be far more complex than they expect.
This originates from the misconception that their footprint will be covered by what they can see – that it comes from their headquarters, their retail spaces and their warehouses. However, this is less than 10% of emissions for most businesses. Instead, they need to be looking upstream at how their raw materials are sourced, the process that converts those raw materials into a product, the transportation of those products, and their lifecycle.
As complicated as this sounds, this is necessary work for any business looking to establish their carbon emission baseline and understand the hotspots in their value chain. However, the webinar panelists stressed its importance because once this baseline is established it is then possible for a business to target their efforts and create an informed strategy that will guide them to net zero.
Panelist Pauline Op de Beeck from the Carbon Trust recommended that businesses approach their carbon emissions like a creative challenge, rather than simply an operational one. Much like approaching a creative product, focusing on collaboration and innovation is especially helpful when taking a business to Net Zero, whether that is connecting with suppliers to work together on building a better product or reaching out to your competitors to share best practices. Reducing carbon emissions is a daunting task but it is not one that needs to be done in isolation and through innovation and collaboration businesses will be able to achieve their goals faster.
Watch the full Understanding Carbon webinar below:
The full Understanding Carbon paper can be downloaded here< Back