Taking climate action in your business is no small feat. With so much to do and so many competing priorities, it can be hard to know what needs your attention most. Working towards a sustainability certification not only gets your ducks in a row, it can also make you aware of blind spots in your company and connect you to a wider community of forward-looking peers.
Additionally, as climate consciousness grows amongst the workforce, showing that you’re willing to put in the effort will keep your employees happy and give you a competitive edge when hiring talent. Once you’re done, you usually get a little icon to stick on your website too. How nice is that?
What it is: Widely considered the gold standard for good business practices, B Corp is a third-party verification that’s run by the non-profit B Lab. B Corp is built on the belief that by pursuing both profit and purpose, the business world can help create a more equitable world and a healthier environment.
How to apply: To become a certified B Corporation, a business must pass B Lab’s rigorous assessment, which looks into every level of the company’s impact, from its workers and customers to the wider community and environment.
Wider impact: By encouraging companies to measure their social and environmental performance in addition to their bottom line, B Corp is helping reimagine what growth looks like in the business world.
Who it’s for: Companies that already have a good sense of their environmental and social impact. The B Corp application is also an excellent blueprint for businesses that are looking for guidance on how to become a force for good.
Carbon Disclosure Project
What it is: The Carbon Disclosure Project’s slogan ‘you can’t manage what you don’t measure’ really spoke to us data-lovers here at Pawprint. Regarded as the world’s largest dataset on carbon emissions, the CDP helps businesses, cities, states and regions measure and understand their environmental impact. They also place an emphasis on transparency and accountability, with all completed responses available to view on their database. To date, over 10,000 participants have measured their emissions through the CDP.
How to apply: Companies complete a series of questionnaires regarding their impact on the climate, forests and water security. The CDP then gives the company a score based on their performance.
Wider impact: Once a business has disclosed their emissions, they’re given access to the CDP’s research hub, which connects them to initiatives and expert advice on how to reduce their impact. The comprehensive questionnaires also encourage companies to report on those tricky scope 3 emissions, which are harder to measure and often get omitted in reporting, but which typically make up the bulk of a business’ carbon footprint.
Who it’s for: Any company looking to measure and report on their emissions.
Science Based Targets Initiative
What it is: The Science Based Targets Initiative helps businesses set and validate their emissions reduction targets. Since its launch in 2015, more than a thousand companies have now signed on, including the likes of Diageo, Armani and Netflix.
How to apply: Companies submit a science-based target and reduction plan to the SBTi. Once the plan has been validated, the company must then report back every year to retain their certification.
Wider impact: Once a company’s target and plan is ratified, they’re listed on the SBTi’s website. This online database makes it easy to see which companies have pledged to do their bit for the environment, and to find out more about the scale of their climate ambitions.
Who it’s for: Everyone. Setting a science-based target should be standard practice as part of every company’s sustainability plan, but getting it ratified by the SBTi is an important step towards transparency and accountability.
What it is: Planet Mark is a certification programme that works with businesses to measure and reduce their environmental impact, with the view of eventually achieving net-zero.
How to apply: All applicants undergo a rigorous assessment process that measures their environmental impact. Once their emissions have been verified, the business will receive a Planet Mark certification. They must then demonstrate a 2.5% carbon reduction on a yearly basis in order to retain the certification. Companies can also choose to measure their social impact if they wish.
Wider impact: We’re big fans of Planet Mark’s emphasis on continuous improvement, and the support they provide to businesses no matter where they are on their climate journey. Their option to include social impact as part of their measurement process is also an excellent acknowledgement of the fact that issues around climate change, equality and justice are inextricably linked. We do, however, wish that their reduction target for certification was more ambitious, as the UNEP has stated that global greenhouse gas emissions need to fall by 7.6% per year in order for us to meet the 1.5 degree Celsius target of the Paris Agreement.
Who it’s for: Businesses at any point in their transition to a net-zero business, whether they’re ready to shout about their achievements or are looking for extra support.
The following membership programmes are a great place to connect with other businesses, get access to resources and expert advice, and proudly state your company’s intention to make a positive impact. The application process for these programmes are accommodating to companies at every stage of their transition towards a lower-carbon business.
Business in the Community is a membership network for British companies looking to do business with people and planet in mind. Established 40 years ago by the Prince of Wales, the BitC remit covers everything from mental health to equality in the workplace, but their climate arm is particularly ambitious. BitC’s Challenge 2030 campaign supports their members in setting science-based targets and embedding sustainability at every level of their business, with the view of achieving net-zero by 2030. They also actively encourage businesses to align with the United Nations’ Race to Zero roadmap.
Positive works to help businesses become a Positive Impact Company—one that goes beyond merely cutting back on their impact, and towards having an actual regenerative effect on the environment. Not only does Positive connect its members to other like-minded businesses, but it also gives them access to various methodologies for measuring and guiding impact, resource directories, workshops, and sessions with sustainability consultants. We’re also particularly inspired by Positive’s call to action for businesses to focus on doing ‘more good’, rather than just ‘less harm’.
SME Climate Hub is a global initiative dedicated to helping SMEs reduce their carbon emissions, with the goal of halving emissions by 2030 and achieving net-zero by 2050. Working in tandem with the UK government and co-created by the UN’s Race to Zero campaign, members will have access to tools and resources curated by the Net Zero team at Oxford University, as well as a range of ideas, support and incentives developed by the SME Climate Hub.
Business Declares is a non-profit working to galvanise businesses on climate action. As official partners with the UN’s Race to Zero campaign, membership to Business Declares is free and open to businesses of all sizes and purposes. They encourage their members to set timelines even more ambitious than that of the Paris Agreement, and provide a range of networking opportunities, training and educational resources to support their members’ climate transition.
Greentech Alliance is a network for businesses that are focussed on creating products, services and technologies that would benefit the environment. Membership is free, though all applicants need to prove that their business is working to improve the health of the planet in some way, whether it’s improving the efficiency of pre-existing activities or the development of new green technologies.
Being a climate leader isn’t just good for the planet; it’s good for business too. Pawprint can help you accelerate progress within your company and engage your employees in the fight against climate change. Book a demo with Pawprint and find out more.