It's not just about Carbon

It's not just about Carbon

The quest to become more sustainable is giving businesses carbon tunnel vision. The fundamental truth about creating a sustainable business practice is that it’s not just about carbon. The very definition of ESG relates to far more than just the carbon content in the atmosphere.

But carbon tunnel vision isn’t merely a confusion around the definition of ESG. Moreover, it hinges on the fact that targets such as “net zero by 2050” are increasingly linked with sustainability. Net zero itself refers directly to the balance of carbon emitted into the atmosphere and the amount being removed from it.

Why carbon?

Businesses are choosing to prioritise carbon emissions because of how labour-intensive (and costly) it is to track their impacts. Endless spreadsheets being sent back and forth between departments and the resource it takes to do this means that companies will tend to focus on the singular impacts they believe should take precedence.

So if the UK government has set a priority to limit global heating to 1.5C by 2050, then it’s understandable that UK businesses would also prioritise carbon tracking in their sustainability measures.

A sustainable data strategy

The problem with a one-off analysis is that it doesn’t provide a full picture of the impact a business has. Carbon is one thing but what about its impact over the scope 1,2 and 3 emission brackets

If data collection is too labour intensive, time consuming and expensive, then businesses will need to implement a process for collecting data more efficiently, and accurately.

There’s also a requirement for companies to be able to engage with their suppliers to actively participate in the gathering of this data. Quite the challenge when dealing with highly complex, global supply chains.

 

 

A technological solution

It's not just about Carbon

The implementation of software can provide businesses with iterative dashboards to gather their data across all three of their scope emissions. Most importantly, not just from a carbon point of view but from an environmental, social and governmental consideration too. 

The approach needs to be pragmatic as opposed to being singularly carbon intensive. Decision makers require a cockpit view of all the relevant KPIs so that they can decide on the best cause of action. These actions will ideally take into consideration the direct and indirect effects on ESG.

Putting this into practice

So for example, many companies have looked to afforestation as a solution to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. We’ve seen brands publicly market tree planting initiatives in which they plant one tree for every pound spent on their consumer products.

On the face of things this may sound like a step in the right direction. It encourages sustainably focused consumers to invest in your brand, fights deforestation and we know that trees remove carbon directly from the air. 

A win-win right?

However, what if you’re a food company? Food production can cause a loss in biodiversity and creates greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation of its goods.

Planting more trees will require more land. If more land is being used for trees then this could put pressure on the food security of land required for farming. The UK also has a relatively smaller land mass than other countries and needs to balance farmland with residential space required for housing. An added social consideration to take on board.

So based on this broader view of the impact that tree planting will have, perhaps the decision makers would opt instead for an alternative? The alternative may be to invest in carbon sequestration or biofuels instead of tree planting? By tracking more variables a business can make a more informed decision.

Compliance

The race to reduce carbon emissions also tends to cause businesses to overlook the importance of adhering to codes of practice. There are many legislative, regulatory and compliance measures that need to be considered.

These are highly important when making decisions around sustainability. Any steps that businesses take in regards to their impact on environmental, social and governance will have to meet the required codes of practice. Therefore the ability to gather certifications as part of a business’ data strategy is crucial.

The STAR platform also offers an intuitive and secure cloud-based solution to map products and manage supply chains, gathering key data directly from suppliers on Co2 emissions, ethical compliance, certification, Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and more.

Driven by our tried and tested SAQ, powerful dashboards and analytics are at your fingertips that allow you to monitor performance, measure KPIs and data, and mitigate risk across your business and supply partners.

Interested in learning more?

STAR Specialists

Rick Sanderson

Head of Partnerships

Jamie Jarczewski

Senior ESG Lead

Jamie Photo

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