A carbon neutral business emits less CO2 than it saves through energy projects that offset its emissions. For example, a business might plant enough trees every year to absorb all the CO2 it produces in a year. This is called carbon offsetting.
Because the nature of business requires energy, and using energy releases emissions, it is fundamentally impossible for a business not to emit CO2. However, businesses can do their best to offset this CO2 and their impact on the environment.
That is what it means to be carbon neutral – to offset CO2 emissions so there’s no net release. This state of balance is a realistic goal for most businesses, even those that are in high emission industries like transport and manufacturing.
Why should small businesses go carbon neutral?
Going carbon neutral is not an expensive endeavor, and it can even bring savings on energy and travel. There’s no financial barrier in your way to becoming carbon neutral. The only barrier is your own commitment to the process.
There’s also the benefit of clients who will only work with carbon-neutral companies. It’s important to remember that being carbon neutral is just as much about who you do business with as it is yourself. Companies who are already carbon neutral may only want to work with other companies who are doing the same.
Another benefit of going carbon neutral is instilling a rich culture of environmental responsibility within your organisation. Operating in a way that protects the environment is an admirable trait, for climate change is as much a social justice issue as it is a planetary one (the poorest in society are affected by climate change first).
To learn more about climate change, you can read our article on the Business of climate change here.
How can a small business go carbon neutral?
Here are some of the ways a small business can offset their carbon emissions:
1. Calculate your carbon emissions
First of all, you need to calculate your carbon emissions.
Carbon Trust has a useful carbon footprint calculator for SMEs that will calculate your carbon footprint based on your fuel consumption, energy consumption, and any top ups of air conditioning units. This will give you a number to work with.
2. Use the EnergyBillKill carbon offset tool
The EnergyBillKill carbon offsetting tool is the easiest way to offset your carbon emissions based on how much electricity you consume.
It lets you select how much electricity you want to carbon offset, and then lets you buy a carbon offset for your business in just a few clicks.
We partnered with Cloverly to give you carbon offsetting credits that support renewable projects around the world. Some of these projects include tree planting, wind generation, methane capture and solar farms. Find out more here.
3. Switch to green electricity
Switching your business electricity to a 100% green energy supplier will slash your carbon footprint overnight. There are plenty of energy suppliers who only do green electricity with no fossil fuels or nuclear. Best of all, you could save money by switching too.
4. Switch to carbon neutral gas
There is no such thing as 100% green gas, because no gas is produced in a renewable way. However, there are suppliers who offset their own carbon emissions to ensure the gas they supply is carbon neutral. You can switch to them to reduce your own emissions.
5. Go paperless
Going paperless for invoices, contracts, banking and communication will slash your business’s carbon footprint. According to statistics from The World Counts, 50% of business waste is composed of paper. Choose digital instead.
Climate action amid the COVID-19 outbreak
Prior to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, climate change was hot off the press. Greta Thunberg, the Swedish environmental activist (you’ve probably heard of her), appeared in the news nearly every day. COVID-19 changed that.
Climate action is no longer being talked about anywhere near as much because of the coronavirus, however, it is still as important as it ever was. Climate change isn’t going away anytime soon, and our climate action shouldn’t either.
An alarm has been signalled by The International Energy Agency (IEA), the global energy watchdog, in respect of this. They have warned that the outbreak could spell a slowdown in the world’s transition to carbon neutrality.
On this, Fatih Birol, IEA’s executive director, said: “There is nothing to celebrate in a likely decline in emissions driven by the economic crisis because in the absence of the right policies and structural measures, this decline will not be sustainable. We should not allow today’s crisis to compromise the clean energy transition.”
Indeed, small and medium-sized businesses should not let up in their quest to become carbon neutral because of the COVID-19 outbreak. Climate action should not have to wait for the pandemic to play out. Proactivity is needed.
Already, we have seen companies close down their operations and slash their carbon footprints out of forced measures introduced by the Government that have affected non-essential services. This should be seen as an opportunity.
Firms could use this time to plan their carbon offsetting measures to ensure that when normal service resumes, they are greener than ever.