Practical actions that businesses can take today to help mitigate climate change.
This article is part of a series on taking action to mitigate climate change.
Implementing green policies in a business might presently be perceived as a resource drain. Many may ask, what is the return on investment? The answer, in short, is enhancing operational efficiency, lowering costs, improving access to credit* and improving reputation. The reputation aspect is particularly powerful, as it benefits employee attraction and retention, increases customer acquisition and reduces churn. (Not to forget, of course, that climate action helps to avert environmental disaster!)
As climate change impacts worsen and as climate consciousness increases throughout society, it will become necessary for businesses to demonstrate to funders, customers and employees that climate action is a core part of the strategy. Many pro-climate activities for businesses either reduce costs or are themselves low-cost, but even the ones that have a notable cost will pay-off for this reason: businesses that are early adopters of green policies will actually gain customers over their competitors, until most companies in the sector declare their green credentials. After that point, those who don’t go green will lose customers.
So, get ahead of the pack by implementing these suggested actions.
Advocacy and being informed
- Calculate your business’s carbon footprint. (See, for example, here, here or here)
- Get eco-certified and publicise it. (Find legitimate certifications, such as ISO 14001 and accreditation schemes.)
- Publicise all authentic pro-climate credentials — but no greenwashing!
- Educate employees on climate change impacts and the benefits of mitigation. Here are some resources to get you started.
- Create an environment where pro-climate action is seen as co-operative, where each individual’s activity is helping someone else and that it is mutually beneficial.
- In your capacity as representatives of industry, challenge politicians on what climate-change efforts are being made.
Reduce energy demands
- Choose energy-efficient tech for the office (e.g. monitors, sensor-based lights, etc).
- Reduce energy demands on site and in the supply chain.
Innovate to reduce emissions
- Alongside purchases, provide carbon offsetting options to customers.
- Improve energy-efficiency in both manufacturing and product design.
- Make product iterations focus on climate-conscious efficiency improvements, not just cost-efficiency or product feature improvements.
- Implement electrification of industrial processes.
- Improve materials efficiency (such as material lifetime).
- Develop more efficient air conditioning units and related technologies.
- Incorporate climate-impact considerations into all decision-making.
- Allow employees to work from home where possible.
- Change energy supply to “green” (non-fossil fuel) sources.
- Change vehicle fleets to electric or hybrid.
- Choose energy-efficient offerings for services such as delivery companies, cloud servers, data centres, etc.
- Choose energy-efficient offerings for services in the supply chain.
- Make corporate carbon offset payments.
- Reduce use of high-carbon emission source materials.
- Increase use of recycled source materials, such as steel.
- Stop investments in fossil fuel producers — review individual investments, investment funds and pension fund preferences.
- Increase localisation of manufacturing by decentralising activities.
- Reduce delivery of produce when the delivery method produces emissions.
- Reorganise supply chains to minimise energy usage.
Reduce direct fossil fuel impact
- If you’re in industries such as steel or cement production, implement carbon capture and storage (CCS) against fossil fuel outputs.
- If you’re in the oil and gas industry, reduce unnecessary gas flaring.
- Plant “green roofs” on properties.
- Increase energy efficiency of properties.