Last week, we hosted the first of our Soil Carbon Removal Think Tank sessions – a series of...
Why Voluntary Corporate Climate Action Is Crucial and How You Can Get It Right
Last week, we hosted our fifth Soil Carbon Removal Think Tank session – a series of webinars bringing together leading experts in the fields of soil carbon removal & the voluntary carbon market (VCM).
This time, we explored ‘Why Voluntary Corporate Climate Action Is Crucial and How You Can Get It Right’.
We were joined by John-O Niles of Salesforce & Oliver Bolton of Earthly to learn how you can make a difference in your investment decisions through real, credible climate action.
Social and environmental challenges are becoming more pressing by the day, setting in motion transformations that will have tangible effects for years to come.
More and more companies realise the impact this will have on their business. Climate breakdown, biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse are material considerations that will affect every company.
As a result, many corporations are kick-starting their journey from simply doing less harm to actively doing good. From corporate involvement in the carbon market to philanthropy, the tide is turning.
Businesses can be a driving force for good. But with an abundance of information to wrap your head around before you can embark on this path, how can you ensure you’re doing it right?
THE VALUE OF CORPORATE CLIMATE ACTION
Drawing on his experience as Senior Manager of Natural Climate Solutions at Salesforce, John-O emphasises that it’s an extremely exciting time.
We have the framework established by the Paris Agreement, but it’s a very soft, bottoms-up treaty. As a result, he believes the biggest climate opportunity for the next few years lies in corporate sustainability efforts.
According to Oliver, there’s a growing recognition that all companies are ultimately affected by climate breakdown, even if not directly. Even if you’re not exposed to physical risk, you may face market volatility, changes in consumer demand or policy legislation. If corporations want to succeed in the future, Oliver believes they need to imbed climate impact, risk & action into their company's core.
The full potential of climate action investment decisions is a realm that’s yet to be universally realised. By taking a holistic approach, businesses can showcase climate leadership, ensure long-term business viability & deliver meaningful impact for both people and our planet.
WHAT IS THE KEY TO A SUCCESSFUL CORPORATE CLIMATE ACTION STRATEGY?
There’s no obligation for corporations to go above and beyond in their climate action strategies. But just because it’s not mandatory doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be happening. As John-O highlights:
“A lot of progressive companies are doing their best to figure out what their most aggressive net-zero strategy is. They’re asking themselves how they can be nature positive, doing good for the planet rather than simply for marketing.”
A successful corporate climate action strategy is context specific for every business. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach. But there is one key criterion that’s essential for each of them: transparency. According to John-O, corporations should be stating clearly what their emissions are, where they’re coming from, and every minute detail they’re implementing to tackle them.
By setting an aggressive science-based target, moving as fast as you can towards achieving that and being fully transparent along the way, a successful climate action strategy is well within reach.
WHY CARBON REDUCTIONS MUST GO HAND-IN-HAND WITH CARBON REMOVALS
The carbon market offers a promising solution for businesses to achieve their climate pledges – but only when every channel of carbon reduction has first-off been exhausted. When you’ve done your best, only then should you offset the rest.
In almost all industries, there will be a residue of emissions that we can’t yet eliminate. But as Sustainability Managers, how can you identify when you’ve reached that point?
Drawing on his work at Earthly, Oliver highlights that this task is highly context specific, varying for each company, industry & country. The most important thing is taking stock the best you can of your scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions. Scope 3 emissions are notoriously difficult to assess, but the most important thing is doing your best to identify what they are and where they’re coming from.
Once you’ve done as much as possible to mitigate, that’s where high-quality carbon credits come in.
HARNESSING THE VALUE OF NATURE-BASED SOLUTIONS
Nature-based solutions (NBS) are one of the most powerful tools to deliver a holistic approach to your offsets.
We’re not just facing a climate crisis. We have ecosystem collapse, water scarcity, biodiversity loss & soil degradation. These threats can’t be tackled by focusing exclusively on one single metric.
“90% of the conversation centres around carbon. There’s a real under-representation of the biodiversity crisis, and that’s why we were attracted to NBS. They tackle climate, they tackle biodiversity, and they support the people at the forefront of these challenges. If we get to net zero by 2050 and we haven’t fixed the biodiversity crisis, we’re still toast. Investment in nature is needed now.” — Oliver Bolton
Through nature-based solutions, we can break away from carbon tunnel vision & instead deliver a holistic approach to our climate action. We have a 10 gigatonne per year opportunity for NBS, 4Gt of which is attributable to changing existing land management practices.
As John-O highlights, there are a lot of significantly additional interventions that can be done in the land sector space. You just need to be a little more careful. Every hectare & year varies from the other, “but the co-benefits you can achieve if you invest in high-quality NBS is an unparalleled win-win”.
Find out more about high-quality carbon credits from regenerative agriculture
HOW CAN YOU ENSURE YOU’RE PARTNERING WITH REPUTABLE PROVIDERS FOR YOUR CARBON REMOVALS?
The voluntary carbon market has exploded in recent years. Consequently, it can be challenging to know where to start when partnering with reputable carbon credit providers.
According to Oliver, some critical criteria allow businesses to identify whether they invest in high-quality credits. From additionality, carbon accounting methodologies, permanence and leakage, these are the fundamental pillars that establish whether carbon removals are reputable.
But beyond that, Oliver states that using data from multiple sources allows you to build a holistic view of a project, ensuring they have transparent monitoring, reporting and verification systems to track impact over time.
The range of quality in carbon removal projects is hugely diverse. By taking a data-driven approach & spending time ensuring credits adhere to the highest standard, you can maximise the impact of your investments.
There’s an increasing realisation that business can be a driving force for good, which has spurred massive innovation, momentum and motivation in the climate space. The business world as we know it is changing. However, a lot more needs to be done.
Much of the GHG emissions & environmental degradation associated with climate breakdown are attributable to business-driven economic activity. At the same time, however, businesses have the unprecedented potential to contribute to innovative solutions that prevent, mitigate and adapt to the adverse effects of climate change.
Sometimes fighting bad isn’t an easy message, but building good is. And that’s exactly where nature-based solutions can excel. We have a 10 gigaton per year opportunity to get this right. We just need to be bigger, bolder & faster in our actions.