Stuck what to do about sustainability at your company? Professor Mark Maslin suggests 10 points for businesses to act upon. We are publishing his paper to help you get going and keep going.
10 points to create sustainable Corporate Positive Power
“We do not have time for the revolution: We must use current systems to start to save our planet.”
The world’s top 100 companies generate more than $15 trillion in revenue per year.1
More than half of the world’s 100 most valuable companies are located in either the US (35 companies) or China (23 companies).1
Businesses control our lives: what we eat, what we buy, what we watch and even who we vote for.2
Corporations have immense power and we must harness this to change the World for the better.3
They are one of our major weapons of change.4
Below are suggestions of what you can do within your corporation or organisation to help them help us save our planet.
- Ambition and vision
Short-termism in the corporate world is so last century.2
Companies need to set the agenda as they are more agile and fast-moving than Governments.3
Being sustainable and actively caring about the environment is good for business.4
Corporations that actively manage and plan for climate change secure a 67% higher return than companies who refuse to disclose their carbon emissions.5
Microsoft has set the agenda for the technology sector with the ambition to go carbon negative by 2030.6
By 2050 they want to remove all the carbon pollution from the atmosphere that they and their supply chain have emitted since the founding of the company in 1975.6
Sky has set the agenda for the media sector pledging that they and their supply chain will go carbon negative by 2030.7
BP has also declared that it will be carbon neutral by 2050 by eliminating or offsetting over 415 million tons of carbon emissions.8
- Open and transparent business
Going carbon neutral or carbon negative is a journey that needs to be transparent so employees, clients, customers and regulators can appreciate what is being done.9
Encourage your company to measure its carbon footprint.
Help you company plan how it will reduce it’s carbon footprint.
Encourage them to publish their carbon footprint and how they plan to reduce it.
Help the company to implement their plan.
Encourage the company to publish its successes and failures.
Actively promote your company’s successes on social media.
Get them to repeat this cycle until they are carbon negative.10
You can apply the same process to other greenhouse gases, water usage and raw material consumption – remember it is your company.11
- Set Emission Reduction Targets
Setting targets is essential to reducing carbon emissions and environmental damage.12
Ensure that your company’s targets comply with European and international level regulations on reporting GHG emissions.13
Get your company to set an ambitious long-term emission reduction target that has been approved by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi).13
Ensure your company’s reporting conforms to the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).14
Ensure your company publishes an annual environmental audit to the most stringent international standards.14
Suggest your company sets an internal price on carbon to motivate behavioural change.14
Get your company to aim to be a ‘carbon neutral’ company.10
Continually increase your targets to become a ‘carbon negative’ company.10
Encourage your company to calculate their total carbon footprint since it was founded and ultimately aim to remove all that carbon pollution.10
- Focus on energy
Energy consumption is a significant source of GHG emissions for most companies.15
Energy is central to the manufacturing of products and servicing of offices, factories, warehouses and/or datacentres.15
Measure and monitor your company’s energy use.16
Use only the highest-rated green buildings available.17
Move to renewable energy for electricity through energy suppliers and power purchase agreements.18
Generate onsite renewable energy where practical.18
Switch to renewable energy instruments such as Guarantee of Origin (GO) and International Renewable Energy Certificates (I-REC & REC) for electricity.18
Switch to Green Gas Certificates as every unit of green gas injected into the grid displaces a unit of conventional gas.19
Switch your company’s car/van fleet to electric.20
Switch your truck fleet to biodiesel in the short term and to electric in the medium term.21
- Apply the circular economy
The classic economic model ‘take, make, dispose’ relies on large quantities of cheap, easily accessible materials and energy.22
We are reaching the physical limits of this model.22
The circular economy minimises the amount of resources that are extracted and maximises the value of products and materials throughout their lifecycle.23
Applying a circular economy could unlock up to €1.8 trillion of value for Europe’s economy.24
Plan and make products that have longevity, upgradability and recyclability built-in.25
Design out waste and pollution in your company and products.25
Make products and materials that will be used long-term.25
- Employee power
CEOs are taking sustainability seriously to ensure recruitment and retainment of the very best employees.26
Brilliant young people want to work for a company that has a strong moral and ethical code of conduct.27
Making companies environmentally sustainable requires profound changes in the company’s own behaviour that requires harnessing the creativity of the employees by building a more collaborative mode of operation.28
You need to establish a sound Environment Management System (e.g. ISO14001) to focus on the key aspects and impacts (energy use, business travel, waste, water etc).29
Employee power improves efficiency, innovation and environmental performance and can be grown through employee ambassadors, green champions, environmental specialists and partner organisations.30
Companies need to listen to their employees, and where practical embrace and implement their ideas.28
Your company needs to encourage all the employees to embed environmental sustainability objectives into their daily work.31
Your company need to support and encourage employee volunteering to promote the importance of environmental matters in the local community.32
- Link into the supply and value chain
In a globalised economy, companies rely on their supply chain to meet their business objectives.33
Your supply chain GHG emissions could be as much as 4 times that of your own company’s (internal) emissions.34
Environmental innovation and sustainability needs to be extended to your companies or organisations external value chain.34
This can be done by:
- Creating a responsible purchasing policy, to promote the purchase of products and services with a low environmental impact.34
- Engage with your supply chain to ensure you work with companies that share your sustainable goals.33
- Instigate key performance measures of your supply chain for sustainability.35
- Encourage technological developments in your supply chain to help them innovate and produce goods in a greener way.36
- Use blockchain technology to track the environmental impact of the services and goods you purchase.37
- Evaluate and audit your supply chain annually against your key performance measures and your carbon emission target.35
- Change the whole conversation
If companies want to remain relevant and trusted in the 21st century they need to change their relationship with the environment and society.38
Classic economics is dead.
The throw away corporate culture is dead.
The circular economy is essential if companies are to be part of saving our planet.39
Employees are the strength and the heart of all companies and organisations.
Sustainability must become a central tenet of all companies – as this increases the longevity and profitability of the company.5
Make sure your company has a 5-year, 10-year, 15-year and 50-year plan.40
- Influence Governments
Make your Government know you take the future of our planet seriously.
Over 200 British firms have urged the UK government to align the post-Covid19 economic recovery with net zero carbon goal; including Britvic, BP, BT, BNP Paribas, cement producer CEMEX, Coca-Cola, E.ON, Heathrow Airport, HSBC, IKEA, Lloyds Banking Group, Mitsubishi, National Grid, PwC, Severn Trent, Sky, Unilever, Shell and Siemens.41
Politicians think short-term, companies now think long-term, so ensure new environmental policies are long-term.42
Companies rely on the infrastructure provided by Governments. So lobby for it to be as sustainable, low carbon and high quality as possible.43
Companies need a highly skilled workforce to support the massively expanding global green economy. Lobby Government to have the very best education system possible.44
Governments set environmental regulations. Lobby Government to make sure these are sensible, strict, long-term and reward companies and organisations that comply fully.42
Once they have set strict environmental standards make sure they stick to them so your company can plan long-term.42
Lobby Government to ensure independent (non-commercial) enforcement of all environmental regulations so that there is a level playing field to ensure fair competition between companies.44
Make sure your Government is as forward-thinking and committed to saving our planet as your company.
- Calling all entrepreneurs
The global green economy is growing at a phenomenal rate and needs new technology and new products.45
Rapid change brings about opportunity – never has there been a better and more important time to be an entrepreneur.46
We need disruptors, we need novel thinkers, we need new companies to drive innovation.
We need a new wave of social and environmental entrepreneurs to help save our planet.46
Is that you?
- HowMuch.net. Charted: The Companies Making the Most Money in 2019. https://howmuch.net/articles/worlds-largest-companies-by-revenue (2019).
- McKinsey Global Institute. Measuring the economic impact of short-termism. 12pp https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/McKinsey/Featured%20Insights/Long%20term%20Capitalism/Where%20companies%20with%20a%20long%20term%20view%20outperform%20their%20peers/MGI-Measuring-the-economic-impact-of-short-termism.ashx (2017).
- BSR. Business in a Climate-Constrained World: Creating an Action Agenda for Private-Sector Leadership on Climate Change. 77pp http://www.bsr.org/reports/bsr-bccw-creating-action-agenda-private-sector-leadership-climate-change.pdf (2015).
- CDP. World’s top green businesses revealed in the CDP A List. https://www.cdp.net/fr/articles/companies/worlds-top-green-businesses-revealed-in-the-cdp-a-list (2019).
- CDP. Climate action and profitability: CDP S&P 500 Climate Change Report 2014. 60pp https://6fefcbb86e61af1b2fc4-c70d8ead6ced550b4d987d7c03fcdd1d.ssl.cf3.rackcdn.com/cms/reports/documents/000/000/845/original/CDP-SP500-leaders-report-2014.pdf?1472032950 (2014).
- Microsoft. Microsoft will be carbon negative by 2030. https://blogs.microsoft.com/blog/2020/01/16/microsoft-will-be-carbon-negative-by-2030/ (2020).
- Sky. Sky Zero – We’re going net zero carbon by 2030. Because the world can’t wait. https://www.skygroup.sky/sky-zero (2020).
- BP. BP sets ambition for net zero by 2050, fundamentally changing organisation to deliver. https://www.bp.com/en/global/corporate/news-and-insights/press-releases/bernard-looney-announces-new-ambition-for-bp.html (2020).
- Lubin, D. A., Nixon, T. & Mangieri, C. Transparency: The Pathway to Leadership for Carbon Intensive Businesses. 30pp https://www.reuters.com/media-campaign/brandfeatures/transparency-report/the-pathway-to-leadership-for-carbon-intensive-businesses-feb2019.pdf (2019).
- Natural Capital Partners. The CarbonNeutral Protocol: The global standard for carbon neutral programmes. 75pp https://carbonneutral.com/pdfs/The_CarbonNeutral_Protocol_Jan_2020.pdf (2020).
- UN Global Compact. Guide to corporate sustainability: Shaping a sustainable future. 44pp https://www.globalcompact.de/wAssets/docs/Nachhaltigkeits-CSR-Management/un_global_compact_guide_to_corporate_sustainability.pdf (2014).
- CDP. Mind the Science. 10pp https://sciencebasedtargets.org/mindthescience/MindTheScience.pdf (2015).
- Science Based Targets. Science-Based Target Setting Manual. 72pp https://sciencebasedtargets.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/SBTi-manual.pdf (2019).
- TCFD. Recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures. 66pp https://www.fsb-tcfd.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/FINAL-2017-TCFD-Report-11052018.pdf (2017).
- Bruckner, T. et al. Energy Systems. in Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 511–597 (Cambridge University Press, 2014).
- The Climate Group. Smarter Energy Use: Businesses Doing More with Less: EP100 Progress and Insights Report. 26pp https://www.theclimategroup.org/sites/default/files/ep100_annual_report_final.pdf (2019).
- World Green Building Council. Doing Right by Planet and People: The Business Case for Health and Wellbeing in Green Building. 47pp https://www.worldgbc.org/sites/default/files/WorldGBC%20-%20Doing%20Right%20by%20Planet%20and%20People%20-%20April%202018_0.pdf (2018).
- IRENA. Corporate Sourcing of Renewables: Market and Industry Trends – REmade Index. 83pp https://irena.org/-/media/Files/IRENA/Agency/Publication/2018/May/IRENA_Corporate_sourcing_2018.pdf (2018).
- Natural Capital Partners. Green Gas Certificates: Help Companies Report Lower Scope 1 Emissions. 4pp https://assets.naturalcapitalpartners.com/downloads/Green_Gas_Certificate_Factsheet.pdf (2018).
- The Climate Group. Business Driving Demand for Electric Vehicles: EV100 Progress and Insights Annual Report 2019. 22pp https://www.theclimategroup.org/sites/default/files/ev100_annual_report_pdf.pdf (2019).
- BSR. Transitioning to Low-Carbon Fuel: A Business Guide for Sustainable Trucking in North America – A Working Paper from the Future of Fuels Working Group. 59pp http://www.bsr.org/reports/BSR_Future_of_Fuels_Transitioning_to_Low_Carbon_Fuel.pdf (2014).
- Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Towards the Circular Economy: Economic and business rationale for an accelerated transition. 96pp https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/assets/downloads/publications/Ellen-MacArthur-Foundation-Towards-the-Circular-Economy-vol.1.pdf (2013).
- Circle Economy. The Circularity Gap Report 2020. 69pp https://assets.website-files.com/5e185aa4d27bcf348400ed82/5e26ead616b6d1d157ff4293_20200120%20-%20CGR%20Global%20-%20Report%20web%20single%20page%20-%20210x297mm%20-%20compressed.pdf (2020).
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