16 December 2013
A growing number of businesses, from a range of sectors, are discovering the many benefits of making their operations climate neutral, says Nadine Planzer, Carbon Portfolio Manager of the Climate Neutral Group
EF: What benefits do your clients get from going climate-neutral?
They take responsibility for the negative impact their business activities have on the climate. Climate neutral means net CO2 emissions are zero. Climate Neutral Group guides businesses towards climate neutrality through a few concrete steps. First, we provide insight by measuring a company's carbon footprint, then we develop a company-specific emission reduction plan using a variety of measures and the remaining CO2 emissions are offset.
Once our clients have gone through these steps, they can communicate the results and their climate leadership in a transparent way – in their annual report, sustainability report, website etc. It is good to set clear ambitious goals and communicate the results to stakeholders and customers.
EF: Can you explain how these concrete steps work in practice?
Reduction of CO2 emissions is always the most important thing. We can help clients save energy, switch over to green electricity and save fossil fuels etc. For example, for most of our international corporate clients, flying causes 20% of their CO2 emissions, and sometimes up to 75%! We work with business travel agencies to help them develop a more sustainable travel policy and a system to easily offset each flight. Our clients can also gain a lot from our climate neutral driving programmes and competitions. 10-15% savings on CO2 and fuel costs are possible, with a very good ROI! Real green electricity and gas is another big issue across Europe.
Unfortunately, energy companies aren't that transparent on this topic, so we help our clients screen for real green electricity and gas and assist them in making the right choices.
EF: Is demand still growing, despite the difficult economic environment, and how is it evolving?
Yes, it is certainly growing. But the positive business case is becoming more and more important. ROI calculations are necessary to prove that emissions reductions and offsetting are not just extra costs. Companies that are really convinced about climate change being affected by human behaviour are our longest-standing clients.
However, over the last few years we have seen more and more companies acting on climate neutrality because they see an opportunity. It triggers creativity and innovation, can save costs, improves their chances in tenders and is often a demand of stakeholders. We get more requests for Life Cycle Analyses and help them with ideas for climate neutral products and services.
EF: What sorts of projects are most popular with your corporate clients?
Our clients choose projects which best match their organisation's values and carbon neutral ambitions. We can mix and match any types of projects based on the needs and wishes of our clients. Projects which score high in social and economic impact tend to be preferred. Examples include integrated cook stove and household biogas programmes under the Gold Standard. Verifying and communicating the non-carbon benefits of a project is becoming increasingly important for companies leading in CSR.
EF: Is social impact a consideration in all your projects, in addition to emission reductions?
Yes, social and economic drivers play an important role in our investment decisions. As mentioned above, our clients value the story behind the project and the opportunities and empowerment it can provide to communities in poorer areas. Gold Standard-certified carbon credits represent more than 68% of our portfolio.
EF: How have your offerings changed in recent years? And what do you foresee for the future?
We've evolved from a company providing clients with a limited number of offset projects to one that offers a whole range of quality projects and climate neutral consultancy. We define sustainability policies and ambitions for clients and integrated CO2 management services.
We foresee climate neutral services becoming the standard in business operations wherever responsibility lies within the supply chain – both upstream and downstream. We will do our utmost to get climate neutrality high on organisations' agendas because climate change must be halted in order to safeguard our world today and in the future!