Big emitters need to decarbonise fast - but what can small players do? - Handprint

Big emitters need to decarbonise fast – but what can small players do?

decarbonising for small businesses

The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change makes for pretty sober reading. Using the most forceful language yet, scientists and governments concur that climate change is real, happening faster than anticipated and that we are witnessing its effects in increasing intensity. 

It couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time. The climate conversation has changed as the world around us changes. This year’s extreme weather has made the situation far more personal. Scorching summer temperatures, forest fires and flash floods have highlighted how a changing climate is going to impact each and every one of us. The IPCC’s predictions have now become reality. 

Is there any good news? Well, at least we’re all finally in agreement.

The time for talking is over and we really, REALLY, need to act fast.

The Sixth Assessment Report from the IPCC has received a huge amount of attention in comparison to previous iterations. It’s filled with a sense of urgency that will hopefully influence leaders at the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference in November. 

So enough of the doom and gloom. What can be done? Well, it’s clear that the window for change is narrowing. We thought we had around a decade to make the necessary reductions to curb the worst effects of a changing climate. However, the IPCC’s findings hint that we may only have four years to stave off a climate catastrophe. 

There are a couple of major implications coming out of the report. Firstly, countries need to commit more resources to decarbonisation – ASAP. That may sound pretty obvious, however the report was signed off by 192 governments, including the biggest polluters. The forceful language in the report implies that leaders are not just playing lipservice to decarbonisation. 

Secondly, polluting industries need to accelerate (or at least formalise) their timelines towards CO2 neutrality. The unholy trinity of energy, transport and agriculture needs to get with the programme, and create ambitious, transparent reduction plans based on the timeline of the IPCC report, not their own interests. The same goes for metals, mining, and cement production. We need innovation and we need it fast.

But what about the rest of the world? What about all of the organisations that are not responsible for big pollution but still want to make a contribution? What about individuals who want to play their part?

Given the attention on CO2 footprints, government actions and heavy industry, it’s understandably hard to imagine how the actions of companies that are not active in the making or moving of things could make a dent in emissions. According to the World Bank, over 50% of the world’s workforce is employed in service industries. From teachers to healthcare professionals, lawyers to bankers, marketing agencies to digital startups, it can be difficult to find a way to engage and contribute.

For these organisations, supporting regeneration is the way forward. To play a meaningful part in the solution, companies should shift their focus away from footprints and prioritise their handprints. By focusing on positive actions – reserving, restoring and rewilding the world around them – businesses and individuals can help regenerate the planet. 

A Regeneration First approach has so many possible playbooks. Whether it’s linking consumer purchases to planting trees or connecting workplace processes such as emails to clean water initiatives, there are options to suit any business. The steps a company takes to regenerate the planet can then be tracked and reported, highlighting the exponential benefit of a planet-positive approach. 

 

And the best part? What’s good for the planet is also good for business…

  • Investors are increasingly asking for a new reporting style. Instead of glossy reports they now want data-driven, verifiable information on the positive and negative impacts of companies. 
  • Employees want to work for companies that are playing their part to save the planet. Organisations that have a genuine focus on leaving the world a better place have much better retention and employee satisfaction scores.
  • Finally, consumer sentiment is changing. People want the companies they use to aspire to higher goals and are calling for global climate justice. Those businesses that go beyond local CSR activities are going to build deeper and more meaningful connections with their customers. 

 

Human nature means it’s hard to think about problems in the distant future, which is why little has changed since the first IPCC report predictions in 1990. Unfortunately, we’re no longer dealing with predictions. The problems we thought we would be facing tomorrow are happening today. Now that we are seeing the impacts of climate change on our doorsteps, hopefully more people will feel the urgency and be encouraged to act to save the planet. It’s never been more important to get involved in the solution. 

To find out more about how you can incorporate a Regeneration First strategy into your business, download the report