Mea­sur­ing and re­duc­ing your or­gan­i­sa­tion’s car­bon foot­print

Your or­gan­i­sa­tion's mo­ti­va­tions for cal­cu­lat­ing its car­bon foot­print are im­por­tant as that de­ter­mines how and what you mea­sure.

Financial Nigeria Magazine - - Contents - By Em­manuel Og­bonna

The im­pacts of cli­mate change have brought about sig­nif­i­cant risks and op­por­tu­ni­ties to peo­ple, businesses and economies. The world is al­ready see­ing the ef­fects of cli­mate change pre­dicted by sci­en­tists. Ac­cord­ing to the United States Na­tional Aero­nau­tics and Space Ad­min­is­tra­tion (NASA), some of these ef­fects in­clude heavy down­pours, flood­ing, in­tense heat waves, fre­quent wild­fires, longer pe­ri­ods of drought in some re­gions and an in­crease in the num­ber, du­ra­tion and in­ten­sity of trop­i­cal storms.

In La­gos State, the commercial cap­i­tal of Nige­ria, the af­flu­ent neigh­bour­hoods of Ajah, Ikoyi, Lekki and Victoria Island woke up one Satur­day morn­ing in June 2017 to find their roads, houses and other property flooded due to heavy rain­fall. The dam­age to property was es­ti­mated to be in bil­lions of naira. The cause of the flood, as echoed by the La­gos State govern­ment, was an over­flow of the la­goon, re­sult­ing from the rise in sea level.

Sim­i­larly, in Septem­ber 2017, some parts of Benue State were flooded, lead­ing to the dis­place­ment of about 110,000 peo­ple. Farms in the af­fected ar­eas were de­stroyed. Fur­ther­more, the in­creas­ing de­ser­ti­fi­ca­tion in some parts of north­ern Nige­ria and the mas­sive con­trac­tion of Lake Chad have not only led to dev­as­tat­ing im­pacts on farm­lands and set­tle­ment ar­eas. There are also rip­ple ef­fects, such as the in­creas­ing in­ter­nal mi­gra­tion of herds­men and their cat­tle, a sit­u­a­tion that has posed sig­nif­i­cant se­cu­rity risks to the coun­try as we have wit­nessed in re­cent times.

Why should your or­gan­i­sa­tion be con­cerned?

If cur­rent cli­mate trends con­tinue, there would be a re­duc­tion in po­ten­tial out­put of a seg­ment of the man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor that de­pends on agri­cul­ture pro­duce for in­puts. There would also be a de­cline in oil pro­duc­tion as a re­sult of pos­si­ble sub­mer­gence of oil wells in coastal re­gions as the sea level rises.

As cli­mate change mit­i­ga­tion and adap­ta­tion costs mount, the en­tire

econ­omy could be im­per­iled. For in­stance, con­sumers may lose their homes if they have no in­surance cover and have to foot the restora­tion costs them­selves in the event of dam­ages due to flood­ing or a storm. Also, businesses that de­pend on in­creas­ingly volatile com­modi­ties, and those pro­vid­ing in­surance claims, would also be af­fected.

How­ever, cli­mate change is also gen­er­at­ing a lot of busi­ness ac­tiv­i­ties and cli­mate in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties through mit­i­ga­tion and adap­ta­tion ini­tia­tives. Such op­por­tu­ni­ties in­clude in­vest­ment in re­new­able en­ergy, sus­tain­able agri­cul­ture, and cre­ation of more re­silient cities. In ad­di­tion, your or­gan­i­sa­tion can ben­e­fit from sus­tain­abil­ity strate­gies like re­duced op­er­at­ing costs as a re­sult of in­creased en­ergy ef­fi­ciency and re­duced waste pro­duc­tion.

Eval­u­at­ing your car­bon foot­print en­ables your or­gan­i­sa­tion to take some ini­tial steps to adapt to a chang­ing world and cre­ate a more re­silient busi­ness. Hence, it is cru­cial to re­duce your own im­pact in or­der to re­duce the risks and take ad­van­tage of the op­por­tu­ni­ties. But the ini­tial step is to mea­sure your car­bon emis­sion.

Mea­sur­ing your or­gan­i­sa­tion’s car­bon emis­sions can pro­vide a con­sis­tent, ac­cu­rate and trans­par­ent look at the quan­tity of car­bon your busi­ness pro­duces. You can mea­sure your emis­sions by cal­cu­lat­ing your car­bon foot­print, which is the to­tal out­put of green­house gas (GHG) emis­sions caused by your or­gan­i­sa­tion, event, prod­uct or per­son.

A car­bon foot­print does not only mean emis­sions of car­bon diox­ide (CO2); it also in­cludes emis­sions of five other Ky­oto Pro­to­col green­house gases, which are meth­ane (CH4), Nitrous ox­ide (N2O), Hy­droflu­o­ro­car­bons (HFCs), Per­flu­o­ro­car­bons (PFCs) and Sul­phur hex­aflu­o­ride (SF6).

Car­bon foot­print is mea­sured in tonnes of car­bon diox­ide equiv­a­lent (tCO2e). Car­bon diox­ide equiv­a­lent (CO2e) al­lows the dif­fer­ent GHGs to be com­pared on a like-to-like ba­sis rel­a­tive to one unit of car­bon diox­ide. CO2e is cal­cu­lated by mul­ti­ply­ing the emis­sions of each of the six GHGs by its 100-year global warm­ing po­ten­tials (GWP), us­ing the In­ter­gov­ern­men­tal Panel on Cli­mate Change (IPCC) GWP fac­tors.

Why should your or­gan­i­sa­tion mea­sure its car­bon foot­print?

Your or­gan­i­sa­tion’s mo­ti­va­tions for cal­cu­lat­ing its car­bon foot­print are im­por­tant as that de­ter­mines how and what you mea­sure. For in­stance, if you only wanted to re­port in­ter­nally in your busi­ness as an av­enue of en­gag­ing your stake­hold­ers, how and what you mea­sure would be dif­fer­ent than if you were re­port­ing to a leg­isla­tive frame­work for manda­tory car­bon ac­count­ing.

Below are key steps your or­gan­i­sa­tion can take to man­age its car­bon foot­print:

1. De­fine your or­gan­i­sa­tion’s emis­sions: There are three glob­ally agreed scopes for con­sid­er­ing and mea­sur­ing GHG emis­sions. The first scope mea­sures the di­rect im­pact of your or­gan­i­sa­tion, or emis­sions that are pro­duced by as­sets that your or­gan­i­sa­tion owns. The as­serts in­clude com­pany ve­hi­cles and fuel use on-site (e.g. fuel used by elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tor). The sec­ond scope mea­sures emis­sions you do not pro­duce but con­sume, which in­clude elec­tric­ity us­age (from na­tional grid) and nat­u­ral re­sources. The third scope mea­sures the im­pact of your em­ploy­ees, con­trac­tors and cus­tomers and the GHG they pro­duce, in­clud­ing air travel, waste, con­trac­tor-owned ve­hi­cles, cus­tomerowned ve­hi­cles, out­sourced ac­tiv­i­ties, and com­mut­ing.

2. Re­duce your or­gan­i­sa­tion’s emis­sions: From cal­cu­lat­ing your or­gan­i­sa­tion’s GHG emis­sions, the next step is to re­duce the emis­sions. Iden­ti­fy­ing ar­eas where your or­gan­i­sa­tion can re­duce emis­sions will, in the medium- to longterm, re­sult in cost sav­ings, in terms of trans­port, en­ergy, waste and pack­ag­ing with­out neg­a­tively af­fect­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity. Set an an­nual re­duc­tion tar­get – this will give your or­gan­i­sa­tion a goal to work to­wards and help you stay on track.

3. Ver­ify your or­gan­i­sa­tion’s emis­sions: There are many dif­fer­ent things your or­gan­i­sa­tion could mea­sure as part of your car­bon foot­print. For ex­am­ple, a ba­sic car­bon foot­print mea­sures the foot­print of your di­rectly-pur­chased en­ergy con­sump­tion (an­nual elec­tric use (in kWh) and an­nual on-site fuel use (in litres)) mul­ti­plied by the car­bon con­ver­sion fac­tors pro­vided by the IPCC and then added to ob­tain the to­tal busi­ness car­bon foot­print from pur­chased en­ergy. Ver­i­fy­ing your car­bon foot­print will as­sess whether or not your or­gan­i­sa­tion is mea­sur­ing the right things – that is, if the in­for­ma­tion has been cap­tured ac­cu­rately – and help to iden­tify how you can re­duce emis­sions. We can ad­vise your or­gan­i­sa­tion on who can pro­vide as­sur­ance and ver­i­fi­ca­tion for your car­bon foot­print.

4. Re­port your or­gan­i­sa­tion’s emis­sions: It is im­por­tant to let your stake­hold­ers know about your tar­get and how you are track­ing your emis­sions. Your or­gan­i­sa­tion might want to do this as part of your sus­tain­abil­ity re­port, or in­ter­nal re­port, and pub­lish it on your web­site or in an­nual re­ports. The im­por­tant thing is be­ing trans­par­ent and open to stake­hold­ers so they can see the jour­ney your or­gan­i­sa­tion is on and how they can help you achieve your goals.

How do you get go­ing? The most im­por­tant step is to start!

If cur­rent cli­mate trends con­tinue, there would be a re­duc­tion in po­ten­tial out­put of a seg­ment of the man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor that de­pends on agri­cul­ture pro­duce for in­puts.

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