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Carbon is the New Currency

03 December 2009

Carbon reduction has a value, whether within the business boundaries, through materials and energy efficiencies that effect the company’s trading position, or in leveraging opportunities that lie elsewhere in the supply chain.  Lower carbon alternatives can help improve market share.  The reductions they offer to customers increasingly have liquidity and should represent part of the business to business proposition.

Business agendas are now filled with multiple, often competing, challenges:

  • “Going green” is increasing in importance to employees and stakeholders.
  • Green legislation, such as the expected federal legislation addressing climate change, is expected.
  • Supply chain pressures, from customers, are increasing.

To meet these challenges, companies are looking for business savvy approaches, such as life cycle assessment and product carbon footprinting that demonstrate real results to help meet business and sustainability goals.

There is a growing global interest in product carbon footprinting, evidenced by the Publicly Available Standard (PAS) 2050 in the UK, the WBCSD/WRI Product Carbon Accounting initiative and the emerging ISO standard, as well as many national government and retailer initiatives for example Tesco and WalMart.  

Whether explicitly or not, increasing emphasis on the product footprint rather than emissions at the site or business level, recognizes that production and consumption drive carbon impacts.  Emissions are embedded and committed across the product life cycle or supply chain, upstream and downstream of a particular enterprise.  The ‘direct’ emissions of one business are the ‘indirect’ emissions of another, and it may be inefficient to try to manage them independently.

The key to creating value is to use insight from the carbon footprinting process to inform, influence, or improve your business’ processes, decisions and outcomes.  Having knowledge prepares your organization to respond and take action no matter what that action might be. 

An effective footprinting approach should be designed to take the life cycle insight and use it by going (at least) two steps farther:

  • Assess business impacts of the product impacts identified by life cycle carbon footprinting; and
  • Drive business actions based on those impacts: realize opportunities, minimize risks and shed costs.

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Carbon is the New Currency

This article is geared towards companies looking for business savvy approaches such as life cycle assessment and product carbon footprinting to help meet business and sustainability goals.