How do I create a carbon (GHG emissions) reduction plan for my company?
July 8, 2019 4:53 PM   Subscribe

To celebrate the upcoming UN Climate Action Summit this September, I want help my company set goals to become carbon neutral, or carbon negative over time. I've searched the internet and obviously found tons of options/professional offerings, as well as some prior askmefi posts that have covered elements of this question over a decade ago. But are there any great 'do it yourself' guidance papers / websites that've been issued, with the current best practice on emissions reduction and renewable energy switching?

I had some experience implementing a similar ambition at a company I worked at 15 years ago... but times/data/options have all changed, and so many of the links I found were either really old or had broken links or had only the most basic information and no figures to work with.

Because my company sometimes prides itself on doing this kind of accounting for other issues, its likely management will want us to do assessment/goal setting/action planning in house and they won't approve an outside 'verification' or 'certification service. (However I would be gratefully accept any recommendations.)

The basic outline I came up with was:
a) footprint the company using energy consumption (office/operations/datacenters/travel), and track this over multiple years using these categories and create a 'total emissions per capita' indicator to benchmark our success and revisit every quarter. This is the most daunting of all the steps- are there any 'best available figures'/tools for short-haul long-haul flights on emissions etc?
b) have management issue the challenge to staff and staff brainstorms/ sets goals for our internal operations to reduce energy cost/waste/environmental damage from operations (but I'm hoping I can provide some figures to help them start ie. what is generally the lowest hanging fruit in cost to impact ratio? are there any surprising counterintuitive finds? hardest nuts to crack? )
c). guidelines for environmentally responsible travel policy and ways to encourage it
d). guidelines for waste management
e). guidelines/policy for energy supplier (what do we look for? how do we know if there are multiple options available? how can we let our energy supplier know we want renewable energy?)
f) guidelines for making meetings less impactful
e) advice for communicating with our peers/board/employees etc etc

I've got:
1) indication that if I can formulate the plan in a clear and compelling way, the plan is likely to be approved
2) peer/staff approval of addressing the topic (at a general level)
3) an organization with a huge travel footprint
4) data already collected about the average km of each trip and the cost of each ticket aggregated to all staff
5) a mechanism to collect company revenue per flight and (if the flight absolutely cannot be avoided) the company has general approval to 'offset' (but no criteria as to who/what to offset with)
6) utility bills and rates
7) a datacenter footprint that could (at least for one of our counterparts that may also follow our lead) be very big and include several sites around the world, but am not sure how to ascertain what the footprint of this might be (beyond having seen that google and apple have stated their datacenters are carbon neutral)
8) less than top grade IT, so people mostly take teleconference into their own hands with skype, but for meetings with more than 1 person at a time, quality tends to decline rapidly.
9) operations in several world regions

Bonus questions:
I . Carbon and other GHG emissions have real ecological and social costs. Management has indicated that they will reduce footprint, and offset what they cant reduce. However, have any of you successfully used a more holistic approach to describing the cost/benefits, (ie applying a price to carbon emissions so that reduction strategies appear on the balance sheet in a way that reflects the benefits and not just the dollar economic cost of making those reductions, and if so what prices/figures were used?)

II. What are some criteria to look for in an offsetting organization?

III. In our case my organization isn't that visible, so I'm assuming 'certification/verification' from an outside entity isn't going to be that worthwhile if a back of the envelope estimation will do as much good/lead to direct emissions reduction with less cost/delay. However, are there other benefits to certification/verification with an outside entity that I'm missing? What would be the conditions that would make it worth our while?

Many thanks for any pointers to recent reference figures/good resources/lessons learned/examples...
posted by iiniisfree to Work & Money (2 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You might want to have a look at the Dow Jones Sustainability Index to see what things they consider important/effective as well as what other companies already have these initiatives well underway (where you might find some tips and tricks).

There are other resources as well, many of which are found in the world of corporate social responsibility. You might try the Boston College Centre for Corporate Citizenship and Sustainable Brands for guidance.

There is generally a fair bit of sharing that goes on between corporations in this space. They may not tell you what they are hatching up right now but if a program is well-established they will likely be willing to at least give you some advice to get you started.
posted by scrute at 8:23 PM on July 8

You might add water to your list. Reducing water consumption offers another opportunity to reduce your costs (which makes it sellable as an idea) and while it doesn't show up on your CO2 emissions it does reduce CO2 since it reduces how much electricity the water company is using to pump your water.

Remember you need to accept that water consumption can go up if you adopt a travel policy that means more people cycle or walk in and shower at work. If you install showers look into water minimisation and heat recovery from the water.
posted by biffa at 4:59 AM on August 1

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