Christian Arno

Becoming a climate neutral company – how & why

8 min Read
Stack of grey rocks against a blurred beach background

As 2020 ends and the world continues to move in unexpected and baffling directions, there’s increasing clarity in one area, and that is our obligation to protect our planet and its people. Life as we know it is under threat and most of us want to help in any way we can.

The question is, how can we, as business leaders, pull our weight? We travel; manufacture and process goods; manage long and complicated supply chains; use vast amounts of energy on infrastructure and IT, and at least a portion of all this is essential to our existence and success.

Most of us have good intentions and try to limit environmental damage in our day-to-day lives but there’s no easy fix. Only with a cooperative and integrated approach can we embark on the process of healing our planet.

Is becoming a climate neutral/negative company the answer? I think so, or it’s at least a significant part of the answer. By making fundamental changes to operations and behaviour—so that processes, policies and products do as little harm as possible—and then offsetting whatever is left, businesses can make a real difference in the fight against climate change.

Changing behaviour – a little goes a long way

The first step to becoming a carbon neutral company must be improving all-round efficiency. To learn why jumping straight to carbon offsetting is a problem, read our article ‘Carbon offsetting: the good, the bad and the better.

Every type of business can make improvements so that the planet and its people are prioritised alongside profit. While macro-level changes are undoubtedly necessary for some companies, businesses can also do their bit with a vast range of smaller changes. For example:

  • Insulating your office to prevent heat from escaping
  • Using natural light as much as possible and investing in light timers and desk lamps
  • Cultivating a green culture and encouraging employees to support sustainability initiatives
  • Asking your staff to turn off all computers and monitors before they leave
  • Using the photocopier mindfully and only with recycled paper
  • Switching to paperless invoicing and receipts
  • Cutting down on paper cups by offering employees reusable bottles
  • Removing your business from mailing lists to reduce junk mail
  • And don’t forget the biggest offender – travel. Why not implement a policy whereby staff only fly when absolutely necessary, and incentivise employees to commute in a low-carbon way?

Only once you’re sure you are doing everything possible to save carbon and to cultivate a green culture is it time to consider the next step – carbon offsetting.

What is carbon offsetting?

Carbon offsetting is a balancing strategy that – when done well - allows businesses to ‘neutralise’ their carbon footprint and limit their damage to the planet. For example, by planting trees to draw carbon out of the atmosphere or by investing in clean-energy technologies that prevent the equivalent CO2e from being pumped into the atmosphere elsewhere.

Carbon offsetting – the benefits

Good offsetting projects pump money into eco-businesses, enhance biodiversity and build awareness of environmentalism. However, while this tactic has its merits, it’s not infallible.

Carbon offsetting – the pitfalls

Businesses making reductions everywhere rather than polluting in one place and offsetting in another is the ideal scenario. But we don’t live in a perfect world just yet. So, does this well-intentioned offsetting idea live up to the hype?

Planting a few trees certainly does not constitute a proportionate response to driving gas-guzzling cars and flying around the world. And some critics claim that offsetting projects are a distraction from real solutions to climate change, scapegoating non-environmentally friendly habits.

Carbon offsetting, climate justice and prioritising internal change first

So how can businesses balance the benefits of carbon offsetting with the pitfalls? The key to ensuring that your efforts are maximised is thoughtful carbon offsetting:

  • Consider people; their livelihoods and their wellbeing. Team Pawprint works on the principle that action on climate change shouldn’t come at a cost to people.
  • Look out for greenwashing; perform adequate research to ensure that the project you’re investing in is actually doing the good it says it’s doing
  • Prioritise internal change first. It’s always best to just not emit carbon in the first place.

Pawprint’s verdict

At Pawprint we believe that commitment to change in fundamental, routine ways is the ideal starting point for companies that want to be carbon neutral or negative.

Our passion lies in helping businesses make small but consistent and meaningful carbon-reducing changes. And where does carbon offsetting come into play?

When you have done everything possible in terms of behavioural change, we can start looking at the bigger picture by working together as a business community to neutralise the damage we cause.

At Pawprint we believe that this 2-pronged approach is the best way to make real inroads to restoring our planet’s vitality and protecting the future.

About us

Businesses have a key role to play in fighting climate change. Setting ‘climate neutral’ as a goal, where behavioural and operational change ride shotgun and carbon offsetting isn’t allowed to backseat drive, is a significant step in the right direction.

Pawprint exists to help businesses take this step; we inspire employees to fight climate change, facilitate green thinking and arm businesses with the data they need to make meaningful decisions about sustainability.

Together we are working towards a planet that is healthy and welcoming to its inhabitants. Although carbon neutrality doesn’t offer all the answers, we passionately believe that creating a climate neutral corporate world is a leap in the right direction.

Thinking about Pawprint for Business?

From evidence that sustainability is an existential issue for businesses, to how Pawprint delivers 360° board value, we’ve got one helluva business proposition for you.

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