As a business that’s operating in Australia – why would you choose to calculate your carbon footprint? What are the drivers? What are the benefits?
The impacts of climate change are here and now. Extreme weather events – bush fires, floods, cyclones and drought are now near normal events of living in Australia. It is estimated that nearly three billion animals (!!!!) were killed or displaced during Australia’s devastating 2020 bushfires (www.wwf.org.au). It seems like every week there is a report from somewhere around the world of a catastrophic climate event, such as floods in Europe, hurricanes in the Americas, bushfires in California or cyclones in the Pacific. Reducing carbon emissions is at the core of reducing the impact of climate change.
The political driver for companies to reduce emissions has certainly been a bumpy ride! Carbon emission policy in Australia has led a tumultuous path over the last 15-20 years. The country has had decades of heated debate. We were close to having an emission trading scheme in 2007 and a carbon pricing scheme was again in play for a short period in 2011. A revolving door of federal leaders has played havoc with the ability to set stable carbon policy and led to decades of business uncertainty.
Net Zero emissions by 2050
Now, in 2021, at a state level, every Australian State and Territory has a target of zero net emissions by 2050 with various interim targets. There is a growing number of local councils and communities committing to their own targets. Check this full list of States & Territories, Local Government and Communities to see if your region is making its own commitment (https://100percentrenewables.com.au/).
Corporate Australia is also helping lead the way with about 50 organisations committed to net zero carbon emissions by 2050 (see www.climateworksaustralia.org/net-zero/). And it’s not just for large organisations and big business. Small to medium businesses are also getting on board with various sector groups banding together to make their declaration to take action on climate. These include Architects Declare, Engineers Declare, Builders Declare, Lawyers Declare, Social Workers Declare and Landscape Architects Declare.
For business, regardless of the politics (although it certainly plays a huge role), other drivers include
- meeting customer demand,
- increasing market edge,
- identifying inefficiencies and reducing waste,
- or simply acknowledging they have an impact on climate and wanting to minimise emissions.
A carbon footprint helps to identify the waste or inefficiencies within a business in terms of energy and raw material consumption. Through reducing energy use and/or by using more renewable energy sources, it can substantially reduce your energy bill and improve energy security.
Whatever the driver, if, as a business owner or manager, you have made the decision to measure your carbon footprint and try to reduce, or even commit to becoming carbon neutral – what are the next steps? We’ll cover this in Part 2 of our Carbon Footprint blog.