Top ideas for how business can help combat climate change

11 November 2014

2020 Climate Group’s Chairman, Ian Marchant shares his top ideas for how business can help combat climate change.

Last week when I was idly Googling climate change I came across a list of ten top ten things we can all do to help combat climate change in the Independent. It got me thinking about what the same list would be for businesses so I used the Main Group meeting of Scotland’s 2020 Climate Group to gather ideas. From this bit of crowdsourcing, we came up with a range of ideas, which I have distilled down to 10 and I thought I would share them with you.

  1. Know how much energy your business actually uses. This should cover power, heat and transport across all locations and will involve active monitoring. If you don’t measure and monitor you can’t manage.
  2. Work with your supply chain to find collaborative solutions on things like packaging and transport. Optimising across single firms rarely produces the best outcome.
  3. Use digital technology such as video conferencing, Skype and tele conferencing to reduce travel particularly for internal only meetings. In fact try and make these the default choice for in house stuff.
  4. Put all company drivers through a full efficient driving course. Most firms see a 10% to 15% improvement in fuel consumption.
  5. Identify and support climate change/energy champions throughout your business and create a culture of bottom up innovation. Using small groups of committed people is a great way to effect change.
  6. Conduct an energy audit of your entire IT estate including servers and desktops and identify potential improvements and investment opportunities. The IT industry has made good progress on reducing energy consumption in their products but many businesses haven’t kept pace.
  7. Encouraging more efficient commuting patterns for both employees and those in neighbouring SMEs. This could include promoting and incentivising car sharing or the use of public transport.
  8. Integrate energy savings targets into manager’s key performance indicators with a dedicated budget for energy efficiency projects. This sends a clear message that it matters.
  9. Take a long hard look at lighting both in offices and in other areas such as warehouses, yards, factories etc. This can be a very fruitful area of investment
  10. And finally and probably most importantly; it’s all about leadership. The tone from the top really matters. The Board and senior management team have to lead by example, support proposals and generally champion this whole area.

The Scottish Government has developed 10 key behaviours to highlight the key things households could do to make the biggest impact on climate change. This was quite a big project taking into account a lot of research on carbon emissions reductions.

Instead of producing a top 10 list for businesses, the Scottish Government have published ‘Better Business: How to go greener with staff’ as a performance guide which sets out good practice case studies. We have the opportunity to add a different perspective and I wonder whether our list of 10 is a way to go. Any views welcome…

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