Business software

Carbon footprint calculations made easy thanks to business software

As business lunches return to the menu, you may have glanced at the calorie information (now mandatory in the US, UK and other countries) during the weigh-in. dish to choose. And while nutritional numbers only tell part of the story, it’s still true to say that having such numbers at the ready helps consumers make more informed (and hopefully the, healthier). Likewise, counting carbon emissions – rather than food calories – could prove to be a long-term lifeline for the planet.

Plus, just as there are plenty of apps to help you calculate your food intake, there’s no shortage of online aids to make it easier for companies to determine their carbon footprint. Tech Zero, a group effort that encourages organizations to team up to understand and reduce their emissions, has a useful toolkit [PDF] for companies starting their journey. “You can’t reduce what you don’t measure, so the first step in any net zero plan is to measure your emissions,” advise the authors of the toolkit, who recommend companies measure their emissions according to the protocol on greenhouse gases (GHG). .

Standards and training

First published in 2001, the GHG Protocol established the corporate standard for GHG accounting and reporting. And today, its providers (the World Research Institute and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development) offer accessible training programs such as “The Product Life Cycle Standard Online Course”, which teaches students how to measure the emissions of a product throughout its life cycle. .

Life cycle assessment (or analysis) is the pinnacle of emissions accounting, as it gives companies a complete picture of the environmental impact of their products, raw material extraction, device assembly and customer use, through to end-of-life scenarios such as recycling and disposal. In addition to the transparency this data provides to customers, designers also benefit, as material choices, production methods, packaging and transportation can all be refined with the insights uncovered. But those rewards take time to accumulate.

Tracking a company’s impact on the planet is a full-time, complicated job. But where there’s a problem to solve, there’s a business opportunity, and in 2022 the environmental consulting industry is a growing market for companies with tools to offer. Software that gives companies an overview of the fuel it uses directly, the utilities that have been purchased and indirect emissions from products, employee travel and other activities, simplifies the reporting process for domains 1, 2 and 3. carbon dioxide emission.

Integrated approach

Carbon Analytics, a UK-based emissions accounting provider with a US presence, works with Virgin Atlantic, China Airlines and others to help total companies’ carbon footprints and track progress towards bigger targets. durable. The system integrates with financial tools such as Quickbooks, Xero and Excel to collect organizational data and find the supplier information needed to start making its environmental calculations (based on the GHG protocol).

OneTrust’s purchase of Planetly (a Germany-based emissions accounting provider) in December 2021 – to complement its privacy management, data governance and ethics businesses – highlights the market value that the solutions plug-in software bring to the environmental auditing space. “Sustainability and carbon accounting reports aren’t just nice to have anymore,” OneTrust wrote in an accompanying blog post. “Customers, investors, employees and regulators expect organizations to act sustainably, reduce carbon emissions and have a meaningful climate impact.”

Today, Planetly – which remains in Berlin – works with more than 170 companies operating in a wide range of sectors, from automotive to fintech, and has delved into what tech companies can do to reduce and avoid emissions. And while the carbon footprint of streaming services may be lower than the headlines suggest (thanks to efficiencies made by data center operators and others in the data transmission pipeline), the Devices running software are still a significant source of emissions. Devices must be powered, manufactured and their components purchased, so the emissions add up.

Full set

With the rise of emissions trading systems, companies will need to control their carbon footprint and have good visibility on the emissions associated with their commercial activities. Shipping giant Maersk informed markets in July 2022 of the extra cost customers will face when shipping is included in the EU emissions trading scheme in 2023. And other sectors will closely monitor the extension of cap-and-trade mechanisms to less polluting industries to bring market forces to work more broadly in pursuit of greener solutions.

Plug-in emissions accounting solutions are already a game-changer for businesses, and the Carbon Analytics FAQ points to future growth opportunities, such as using similar integrated systems to shine a light not just on carbon emissions, but also other environmental measures such as water consumption. and deforestation. But achieving such environmental enlightenment is not just about software, governance will also be essential for companies to act responsibly on the information presented to them to circumvent climate risks and embrace a sustainable future.


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