Practising law with both my heart and my head – responding to the climate challenge
My father took part in D Day. The war coloured the lives and attitudes of his generation. My daughters are on track, the science tells us, to lead lives dominated by runaway climate heating and the sixth mass extinction. My peers and I, meanwhile, are the first generation to understand fully the implications of our lifestyles and the last blessed with the opportunity to avert its most devastating impacts.
So, to generalise, we have not had such traumatic experiences to contend with, we have caused more carbon emissions than any others and we are at risk of blowing our chance to make a positive difference. This has come to dominate my approach to life as a lawyer and it is both uncomfortable and inspiring.
It is uncomfortable because it means making many changes to how I work:
– Rather than saying I am doing my job simply by furthering my clients’ interests, I am thinking of the regulatory objective of Legal Services Act to “protect and promote the public interest” and considering what impact the activities I am enabling will have on the environment and society more widely and seeking to help clients, intentionally, to make this more positive
– Rather than putting my head alone at the disposal of clients and colleagues, I am allowing my heart to engage also. This makes me vulnerable but puts the whole me at the clients’ service, offering something relational, not merely transactional
– Rather than focusing entirely on this financial year and the billing within it, I am thinking about how actions and decisions will be construed in a few years time, when endeavours to preserve the status quo and (certain) arguments founded on precedence will seem laughable where given priority over emissions reduction and biodiversity protection or restoration
Above all, I want to avoid being guilty by omission; by refusing to acknowledge and to use the influence I have, as a lawyer, to affect positively how we act collectively in these critical years. I remain mindful of Hannah Arendt’s comment that, ‘The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.’
Yet I am inspired because whilst change is challenging, and in this case involves so much more than marginal tweaks to preserve business as usual, the prize – survival for the species in a flourishing future world – is massive. Or, as Joanna Macy more eloquently puts it, this is a moment of choice greater than any other in history. We have an absolute requirement to honour life and whether we make it or not, these are exquisite times to be alive.
And this is why I am thrilled that my colleagues at Bates Wells have acknowledged the climate emergency and biodiversity crisis and have made a series of commitments in response to it. I relish the prospect of contributing to delivering on these commitments and supporting others across the profession to play their part, as I am confident I am not alone.
Blog by David Hunter
Charity & Social Enterprise Department
Bates & Wells LLP
5 Top Tips for Firms & Employees to Support #ClimateAction!
For firms not wishing to, or not able to, support the Global Climate Strike directly there are still lots of things both individuals and law firms can do to reduce their climate impact. Here are our top 5 but you can find lots more on our hints and tips pages on the LSA website.
1 Count your carbon – use one of the excellent free personal carbon counters such as WWF Carbon Footprint calculator to see just how carbon heavy your life is. Then once you know get your firm to measure its collective carbon footprint. Counting carbon is a baseline – once you know your footprint you can set targets and take measures to reduce your climate impact
2. Ban all single-use plastic – not just water bottles. The rise of the keep cup and reusable water bottle are great signifiers that people have got the message about plastic, but there is still so much single-use plastic in our shopping baskets and in our offices. Try avoiding single-use plastic food wrapping for a week – its really hard but if we stop buying food wrapped in plastic the supermarkets and suppliers will stop selling it. Call out suppliers of office products if they come wrapped in plastic or look into daily food van to deliver at your office.
3. Consume less – from fuel to fashion the less we buy and use the lower our climate impact will be. As individuals and as organisations. Cut down on consumption and on waste in the office – it will reduce your bills and save you carbon Change to EV fleet vehicles for example.
4. Be realistic and be kind to yourself – Climate consciousness is not a hair shirt. If you have to fly or drive try to be sensible, reduce the journeys if you can and where you can’t, consider environmental offsetting. The best way to do this is support a tree planting programme either here in the UK via The Woodland Trust or in the Amazon Rain Forest through Cool Earth
5. Spread the message – share your passion for the planet with everyone in your firm. If your firm is not a member of the LSA get them to join now – its free and its easy. If you are an in-house counsel or a barristers chambers’ you too can join.
Together we can act on Climate Change
Plastic reduction at Macfarlanes
At Macfarlanes, we are committed to reducing our use of plastic and other single-use, disposable materials. This is a core part our sustainability strategy for 2019, and is one of the areas in which we have been most successful in engaging staff and key stakeholders throughout the firm.
Support from the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) has been a key part of this initiative and we wanted to share our story with the LSA and inspire other members to tackle single use plastics in their firms.
Our plastic reduction initiative
Key elements of our plastic reduction initiative were as follows:
· removing all plastic / disposable cutlery and replacing it with permanent metal cutlery;
· almost entirely removing paper cups from the firm, replacing them with a stock of permanent tumblers and mugs;
· dramatically reducing the number of individual under-desk bins used throughout the firm – at last count, over 270 people had “binned” their bins, saving up to approx. 75,000 bin bags per year;
· encouraging solicitors to opt out of the Law Gazette, which is delivered wrapped in plastic and often makes its way straight to the bin (we wish the Gazette was digital by default!);
· supporting this with internal marketing and comms; and
· help from the MCS!
World Environment Day 2019: Lunch with the MCS
To mark World Environment Day on 5 June 2019, we hosted the MCS for a lunchtime discussion about marine plastic pollution. Anne Thwaites and Sanjay Mitra gave an engaging talk about the problem of marine plastic pollution, the incredible work of the MCS and things we can do as a firm and as individuals to reduce our plastic consumption. We also learnt what nurdles are!
The audience was really engaged there were some great questions from the floor covering plastic free and sustainable seafood choices, bamboo cotton buds, how best to engage sustainability laggards, and the importance of storytelling about plastic threats and plastic reduction successes.
MCS is a leading marine conservation charity in the UK. Since its beginnings in the 1970s MCS has achieved major successes in protecting marine wildlife, engaging tens of thousands of volunteers in the Beachwatch beach cleaning and litter survey programme, supporting better buying choices for sustainable seafood, and influencing Government and industry to tackle plastic pollution at home and in the workplace.
Staff engagement success
As with any sustainability initiative, staff engagement has been a key challenge in relation to our plastic reduction efforts. Communicating the reasons behind policy changes on things like cutlery and paper cups has been key to bring people onside and pre-empt criticisms, and for every sustainability-conscious member of staff, there are two or three waiting to be engaged.
The MCS lunch really helped with that and has contributed to a wonderful sense of momentum in the firm that we are keen to build on over coming weeks and months.
We had a wonderful response from attendees and, following the talk, many people across the firm took it upon themselves to cajole and encourage their departments to give up their desk bins with great success – contributing to the fantastic numbers listed above. The great thing about this is that the energy came from individuals throughout the firm, not just from our Environmental Committee. We think this is a great example of how a staff engagement event can lead to positive cultural change across the firm.
We also encouraged staff throughout the firm to go further and take up the MCS plastic free July challenge!
Like the sound of this?
If you would like to attempt something similar in your firm and would be interested in more detail about how we achieved this at Macfarlanes, please get in touch with Rob Clarke.
The MCS would also welcome contact from all and any LSA firms interested in tackling plastic use in their firms and contributing to the fight against marine plastic pollution. Please contact Anne Thwaites.
Blog by Robert Clarke, Macfarlanes
Quick Wins for an Environmentally Friendly Office
There are a number of quick and easy steps you can take to reduce your environmental impact and save you money. Here are some to get you started. For more ideas, visit the LSA Ideas Factory to share your own good practices with us.
Recycling/ Resource Use
- Provide glasses and mugs rather than disposable cups
- Limit use of disposable goods e.g. pens, in favour of reusable ones
- Make it easy for staff to recycle as much as possible; paper, card, glass, plastic, aluminium, CDs, batteries, old phones
- Take away individual waste bins from desks and replace with recycling bins
- Start composting food waste
- Lengthen the life of toner cartridges by adjusting printer settings in draft quality – and black and white
- Recycle used toner cartridges
- Recycle old computer equipment by giving it to local charities or community groups
- At Christmas, make a donation to charity rather than sending cards
- Use environmentally friendly cleaning products
- Give an active preference to products with minimal packaging and that are locally sourced
- Discourage excessive ordering of stationary by installing a central ordering system
- Use local suppliers/caterers where possible
- Maximise savings by putting up signage (printed on scrap paper) reminding staff to save energy and reduce waste
- Fix dripping taps
- Only print when necessary
- Save paper costs by buying 100% recycled paper and reusing discarded paper for notes – recycle all double-sided ‘scrap’ and use single sided to make notepads
- Default printers to print double-sided
- Print internal documents in size 11 font and reduce the borders to 1.5cm
- Inform staff whether agenda and minutes will or won’t be available at meetings to avoid duplication of printing
- Send internal memos electronically
- Use ‘track changes’ to review documents rather than printing
- Cancel junk mail and unwanted publications
- Re-use bubble wrap, boxes and padded envelopes where possible
- Collect and re-use name badges after events and meetings where possible
- Minimise energy costs by ensuring that all equipment and lights are turned off (ie not left on standby) when not in use
- Install movement sensors to meeting rooms, encourage staff to switch off light switches by labelling light switches to indicate which area of the office they light – ask security to check all lights are switched off once the building is empty
- Encourage staff to switch off monitors when away from their desks for more than 5 – 10 minutes and to shut computers down when they leave the office. Turning off a single computer when not in use instead of on standby can save as much as £5 every year and turning one off that would have been on screen saver mode can save up to £45 a year
- Reduce energy bills by turning down the heating when it is not needed and always ensure that this is done before opening a window – check that heating is not timed to come on overnight or at weekends
- Turning the heating down by one degree saves 8% of the energy bill a year and the Environment Agency recommends 19 degrees Celsius is comfortable for most staff in the winter and 23 degrees Celsius in the summer
- If extra heating is needed, use oil-fuelled rather than electric fan heaters. They use 750w of energy as opposed to 3kw
- Ensure all light bulbs are energy efficient – LEDs are more efficient than halogen
- Ensure air conditioning vents or heating are not blocked by office furniture/boxes
- Switch your electricity supplier to a green tariff. Many suppliers will assist in monitoring energy use and promoting reduction
- Save time, inconvenience and pollution by using conference calls rather than travelling to meetings where possible
- Provide interest-free season ticket loans
- Use cycle couriers where possible
- Use LPG and/or carbon neutral taxi companies and encourage use of public transport whenever possible by making this easier to book through a central system
- Encourage staff to cycle to work by installing secure bike racks, shower facilities and cycle mileage allowance
- Introduce travel policies that reward car sharing
More ideas of how LSA members have made their firms more sustainable are included in the Ideas Factory – please share your own.
Plastic-Free, Polder Living…Coming Home!
There is something exciting about returning home. I am Dutch but have spent my entire life abroad, ‘far away’ abroad, where my languages were Korean, Spanish or Bahasa instead of my native tongue. When the opportunity recently came to move my children to Zeeuws-Vlaanderen on the Dutch coast, we took it. Reconnect with my kin, my history and live in an area of Holland where there is space, sea, no traffic and kilometres of enviously clean sandy beaches.
We bought a house in a community orientated village, 1800 years after the Romans decided it wasn’t for them, the temperature in Rome a more enviable one. My direct neighbours are an independent green grocer, a specialist butcher and a bakery which has been family run since 1845. I was excited by this lifestyle of low carbon potential – the school being walking distance and cycling in Holland is like breathing. I was going to buy all my locally sourced cheese and meat wrapped in paper and purchasing a fresh loaf of bread, wafting it home under my arm for all the neighbours to smell! There is a small supermarket around the corner, but what would I need with that having everything I could want next door? What a shock when I realised that this dream of living ‘plastic free’ as much as I could was very quickly turning into a nightmare.
My family’s post war arrival in this area and their subsequent business meant that people knew who I ‘belonged’ to. This can make a difference in a place where family ties are strong and WWII is still something that defines the landscape, architecture and people. I may be ‘foreign’ but at least I wasn’t an outsider and I felt I could open up more freely. So, with the autumn airing of the BBC’s Drowning In Plastic fresh in my mind, watching with dropped-jaw at my Jakartan memories now wading in consumer waste, it spurred on much of my conviction. Having made my introductions as the new kid on the block and clearly stating excitement to have such local sources on my doorstep to prevent waste, they looked at me kindly, nodding in a way a mother would a child who’s made something arty but not really Royal Society of Arts.
The realisation was my free-range chicken from the farm up the road was plopped onto a Styrofoam looking dish and wrapped in plastic cling film. Delicious homemade soups in (quite usefully re-usable) tubs also wrapped further in cling film. The cheese wrapped in a plastic film, the deli spreads also in plastic tubs. When I bring the tubs back to refill they prefer not to accept them because of hygiene standards, even if I am happy to take the risk and the tubs have been cleaned. The bakers’ bread is put into plastic bags as are any buns, croissants etc. My grocer next door does do paper over plastic but the price of an independent grocer is eye watering, especially with children who need snack and lunch boxes made up each day. 9Eur for my bunch of grapes turned me as green as the product I as buying. As for low emissions, living in a remote part of the country means after-school activities are all car-reliant.
So what to do? The regulations around food standards seems fair:
The packaging needs to be clean
It should be suitable to carry food products; some packaging even has a logo to make is clear for this purpose
The packaging should be suitable for the purpose and compatibility ie carrying warm products or aluminium packaging not chemically conflicting with the product.
The consumer needs to be aware that they are doing this at their own risk and the provider has the right to refuse it. They (butcher, baker, wholesaler etc) is obliged to say that the reused packing may bring personal risks.
General research found my questions have been raised in forums and blogs by unsure shoppers like me for years. All wanting less plastic, all trying to create less waste and all actively trying to do this. The final response on one group about butchers packaging was “would you go to the baker with your biscuit tin and see how that works out? This environmental awareness can go a bit too far”. I see both sides, one actively accepting responsibility for their actions by bringing containers to reuse and the other not wanting to risk hygiene standards or worse. One suggestion was coming to a written agreement with the store owner. Indeed, Elisah Pals in Breda in 2018, began a council-supported initiative for shop owners to have a sticker in their window (see above) which allows customers to bring their own tubs, mugs and bags. A means whereby the customer can be responsible for their packaging.
So, ‘Think Global Shop Local’? I will continue to shop and support my local community, farms, orchards and shops. Menu planning, buying less meat but better meat will reduce the packaging and continue to persuade them to reuse their pots and tubs. Buying locally harvested fruit that is in season at the grocer means it will be cheaper and I can avoid the supermarket. I will insist to the baker that I will carry my bread, unwrapped down the street as indeed it’s so delicious, by the time I’m home, there’s often only half left anyway. I can also bake my own. The supermarket, oddly, does allow me to buy loose wrapped fruit, veg and bread and throw it into my own shopping bags, and it’s there when I inevitably do need it…wine isn’t grown in my garden…yet!
For me I’ve realised it needs to be a realistic, happy medium in a busy life, where I do my bit using the local recycling services, talking about packaging to anyone that will listen and being a conscientious shopper. If I can pass that onto my kids too, then we’re on our way.
I don’t want to be “the generation that blew it”!
UN Secretary General António Guterres told the plenary session at the COP24 in Katowice “We’re running out of time. To waste this opportunity would compromise our last best chance to stop runaway climate change. It would not only be immoral, it would be suicidal.”
The PM of Fiji and outgoing Chair of COP23, Frank Bainimarama, was even more blunt: He told delegates they risked going down in history as “the generation that blew it – that sacrificed the health of our world and ultimately betrayed humanity because we didn’t have the courage and foresight to go beyond our short-term individual concerns: craven, irresponsible and selfish”.
Guterres, in a pointed criticism aimed at the four countries that have been refusing to “welcome” the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s special report on 1.5-degree warming, said rejecting climate science was indefensible. He added: “The IPCC special report is a stark acknowledgment of what the consequences of global warming beyond 1.5 degrees will mean for billions of people around the world, especially those who call small island states home. This is not good news, but we cannot afford to ignore it.”
As the New Year approaches I look back on the events of 2018 and think how 2019 will unfold. We are – without doubt – in worrying times. For me the highlight of 2018 was the birth of my first grandson – an immensely moving and proud moment which gives me hope for the future. I’m going to spend as much time with him as I can in 2019 but, as I do, I want to keep reminding myself what Tanya Steele, CEO at WWF, said so well:
“We are the first generation to know we are destroying our planet and the last one that can do anything about it”.
So – I’m going to step into 2019 with a new resolve to raise my game in the battle against climate change. I really really hope that my grandson will never be able to say that his grandparents’ generation was the one that blew it for future generations. That would be the worst legacy any grandparent could leave!
Getting to the Gooooal: Setting a Science Based Target
Johanna Goetzel, Carbon Credentials (Reproduced with permisison)
CBRE and Carbon Credentials co-hosted a workshop for members of the Legal Sustainability Alliance at Emirates Stadium for members who were eager to learn more about setting science-based targets (SBT).
New to the process? Take a look at our blog from July, which contains an easy to follow infographic, or read on for how winning a football match and setting a science based target are not that different.
Some of the identified challenges include:
Data: where is it, how much do you need and how to deal with poor quality data?
Scope 3 emissions: What does this entail and how to engage with suppliers?
Senior leadership support: How to get buy-in from leadership and from those that will have to deliver the target?
Lack of internal resource and skills to set and achieve the target
Organisational complexity, particularly for global firms
Size of the challenge: where do I begin?
Some solutions that the workshop participants brainstormed are strong football lessons too.
You’ve heard “there is no I in team” where cooperation is championed. However, a good team requires strong leadership and the same is true for successfully moving the ball forward when a company agrees to set an SBT.
One challenge to overcome is convincing senior leadership to set a target in the first place.
A player wouldn’t dare walking onto the pitch without his kit on, and when you approach senior leadership it’s best to arm yourself with fact and figures that articulate the benefits of setting a target. Understand what you need to do and have a plan; be prepared to take ownership; and come in clued up about what it will take.
Remember, a season is composed of over 30 matches, so you can improve over time. The Legal Sustainability Alliance’s annual report is a great benchmark to see how you measure against peer organization.
Bringing a case study of a company that’s already achieved your goal can help show your CEOs and leadership that is not only possible, and that there is reputational benefit in setting the target.
Appeal to the desires for CEOs and execs to leave a legacy
Who wouldn’t want to be remembered as the Pelé of your company? Nearly 80% of corporate executives surveyed by CDP found a strengthened brand reputation to be one of the strongest benefits for their company for committing to a SBT. Business as usual is shifting as more than 141 global companies have approved SBTs. Don’t you want to be part of the leadership?
Another challenge that was discussed during the workshop was “where to start?” This reminds me of the nervous energy a player feels before the first match. Even if you have run drills hundreds of times, it can feel overwhelming once on the pitch. What do you do?
Look to a teammate for help
In target setting finding the data and building a plan necessitates asking others for support. The data you need may exist in other departments, and together you can map out how best to obtain and use this information.
It may also be smart to get some tips from experts, either Arsene Wenger or a consultancy, to help. Moving the ball forward may feel tedious when you are alone, but with others, the give and go can help you reach the goal sooner.
Finally, believe you can do it. Going in confidently to the match and the conversation about how to set targets will allow you to be results oriented. Think about what matters most to the business and then position your arguments with those goals in mind.
Remember, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take—think about what you will risk by not taking acting to set an SBT.
Air quality and business – a call to arms….
Keith Cotton, CrispAir
CrispAir has been working with the City of London and other authorities for the last 9 years on the issue of poor air quality. The founder, Keith Cotton, has worked on many initiatives that enhance the environment, health and community with a specific understanding of business needs. Now it’s time to look at the reality of the situation of poor air quality on the ground, disaggregate global and local operational impact alongside embracing the wider Global Sustainable Development Goals that need to be tackled…..
The ‘Red October’ sky covering much of the UK a year ago, and the dust we often notice on vehicles in the summer, are trans-boundary events with particulates in the stratosphere creating an apocalyptic aura but with very little impact to us at ground level. The profile of air quality, as an issue, has been raised over recent years in the press but don’t believe everything you read!
Instant answers, spurious half-science and ‘eye-catching’ headlines still prevail – so below is an attempt to rationalise the situation for businesses. Poor air quality, in a local urban context, is largely invisible. It is formulated of tiny Particulate Matter (PM) and gaseous Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) – the evidence of their impact to human health is beyond question – click here.
The producers of this pollution (a result of combustion) are from vehicle traffic (predominantly diesel) and gas combustion through heating systems. There are other local impactors, namely construction sites and the inappropriate adoption of the STOR programme but mostly, if you have an office in an urban environment your air quality footprint will come down to:
• Transportation – how your staff get around – if you need a taxi contract make sure it’s electric or hybrid
• Built Environment – reducing gas consumption – gather information on life-cycles of the plant as a ultra-low NOx retrofit ‘lean-burner’ could pay-back in two years
• Supply Chain – reduce the number of vehicles visiting your site and encourage suppliers to deliver with low emission vehicles
The new Ultra Low Emission Zone, to be launched in April 2019 by the Mayor of London, and other local government actions will help but there is a need for clarification from national government and this is currently unstructured.
As when I started this work it needs your help – to raise the profile of the issue and get policy makers to stand-up to their responsibilities – we all have a part to play.
The importance of the issue and what we can all do…
This link shows a pollution map for the City of Westminster – Annual Mean NO2 concentrations (2013): The safe level for human health is 40 ugm-3 – so the parks are OK away from the main road! (Source: London Atmospheric Emissions Inventory 2013, GLA and TfL)
Yes – it really this serious…
Particulates have long-term impacts to cardiovascular functions and neurological disorders. A more immediate impact, operationally, is from the irritant NO2 – this aggravates the airway and exacerbates allergen conditions such as hay fever.
So – If you have operations in central urban environments it is likely your staff and that community will be impacted. Find out more by contacting:
Keith Cotton, Managing Director
CrispAir (a trading division of Crisp Solutions Ltd)
Email: [email protected]
Mobile: +44 (0) 7973 814275
Convincing the Business: Making the Case for Carbon Neutrality
Rosie Helson – Natural Capital Partners.
[This guest blog is reproduced in full with permission from Natural Capital Partners. Read the article on their website here]
For some companies, the benefits of achieving net zero emissions are quickly understood, while other internal leaders may require a little more convincing. In this guest blog Natural Capital Partners illustrate the benefits via the experiences of three of their clients who share their journey to carbon neutrality and describe how they made sure it delivered value for the business.
While the calls for carbon neutrality from experts such as former United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres have been widely reported, corporates still require a compelling business reason to make the case for leadership on climate action.
For the world’s largest law firm, Dentons, the most significant reason to become a certified CarbonNeutral® company in the UK and Middle East was to be regarded as an innovative climate leader. Dentons is a member of the Legal Sustainability Alliance, and while other members had set carbon neutral targets, Dentons wanted to do something a bit different. By selecting carbon finance projects that go beyond emissions reductions to support local communities and biodiversity in Uganda, the programme was aligned with one of the emerging markets the firm operates in.
A benchmarking exercise which showed what some of Dentons’ major clients and competitors were doing was key: “I actually showed him Natural Capital Partners’ client example whereby Microsoft purchased carbon from impactful projects in Africa, India and elsewhere,” said Dentons’ Deputy Head of Facilities, Mike Forshaw, helping him convince the UK and Middle East CEO of the value of carbon neutrality in differentiating from other legal firms.
Dentons was already measuring and reducing emissions, but the carbon neutral goal brought these actions together into a coherent, clear strategy. Mike engaged Dentons’ Global Environmental Committee by setting out a three to five year plan to demonstrate the long-term commitment to the programme. The restored water infrastructure project in Uganda is one that delivers benefits in several areas beyond reducing emissions and meeting the carbon neutral goal: by providing communities with access to clean water, the project impacts multiple Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including good health and well-being and gender equality.
“We wanted to go beyond the tick-box exercise by taking numerous environmental actions internally and ensuring our offsets have a positive impact in the communities they’re purchased from. It’s the right thing to do, it’s cost-effective, and that’s why we’ve committed to a three-year carbon neutral programme and expect that to continue,” Mike said.
The programme is now expanding to global units with senior support.
For CHEP, a business which has an inherently low-emission business model that rents pallets and reusable plastic containers to consumer goods and retail companies around the world, its product-as-a-service model, combined with its internal sustainability programme and customer collaboration, significantly reduces the carbon emissions of the business. So, it was a small step for the company to enable its customers to further decarbonise their supply chains with a CarbonNeutral pallet offering.
How a company manages the environmental and climate impacts of its energy use – principally carbon emissions – is an increasingly important differentiator for businesses such as CHEP, whose customers were demanding their suppliers take climate action seriously in order to meet their own sustainability commitments. A CarbonNeutral® product offering is one of the many actions CHEP is taking to demonstrate that.
Iñigo Canalejo Lasarte, Sustainability Director, Europe, Africa, India and the Middle East, commented: “Providing a carbon neutral product to our customers makes CHEP standout in the market; it allows our customers to go beyond the environmental benefits of our share-and-reuse business model, further reducing their environmental footprint and helping to make the world´s supply chains more sustainable.”
The programme has obviously resonated throughout the business: starting in 2012, it has expanded from three to 24 countries. It reached the U.S. after that team saw how successful the CarbonNeutral half-pallets had been in Europe: “U.S. industry recognizes the value of this pioneering platform; CHEP’s CarbonNeutral half-pallet won Industrial Pack’s Environmental Initiative of the Year Award 2018. It’s helping our customers reach both sustainability and business goals,” said Suzanne Lindsay-Walker, CHEP’s Director of Sustainability, North America.
For the programme to be successful, it was essential to ensure Account Directors and Sales teams were on-board. The engagement programme included details of the carbon finance projects CHEP purchases from, which are selected to resonate with customers’ interests: the Acre Amazonian Rainforest Conservation project which impacts 15 of the 17 SDGs, and the Mississippi Valley Reforestation project, which resonates with CHEP’s U.S. customers.
“Not many companies in our industry are providing carbon neutral products,” says Iñigo. It’s a key competitive differentiator but credibility is essential. Iñigo points out that carbon neutrality should not “be the starting point, but rather the natural continuation of a well thought-through sustainability strategy and carefully developed action plan.” Following a framework like the CarbonNeutral Protocol will ensure that the emissions of the business have been reduced to net zero in way that is consistent with best practice.
For water and coffee services company Eden Springs, a survey to investors, customers and employees provided evidence that the business’ key stakeholders were demanding climate action. This led the company to expand its CarbonNeutral® company programme, which already covered the UK, Nordics and Swiss markets, to include product usage for one year, the products themselves, the company, and electricity across Europe.
On a personal level, Eden Springs’ President, Antonio Alarcon, wants the company to be a leader in climate action, and not just in its industry sector. “We are committed to carbon neutrality because we are firmly convinced that it is the right thing to do. It is going to be good for us, good for our employees and it is also going to be good for our clients,” stated Antonio. That’s why carbon neutral has become a core pillar of the Eden Springs brand, further differentiating the company.
Antonio convinced Eden’s regional Managing Directors across Europe that carbon neutrality represents a clear cross-cultural message that brings the markets together with one shared vision. They grew the programme by starting in the Eden Springs’ European markets that had more customers demonstrating commitments to environmental action, namely the UK, Nordics and Switzerland. It has become clear that carbon neutrality generates value for Eden Springs’ customers, in turn creating enterprise value. These first-mover markets set the bar for carbon neutrality and demonstrated the programme’s success. As the trend for climate action grew among customers across Europe, Eden expanded its carbon neutral commitment.
While reducing emissions delivers many shared benefits, reducing them to net zero represents a next-level goal and clear leadership statement, enhancing the brand of the business. The next steps for Eden Springs are to communicate the newly expanded programme to clients, detailing the environmental benefits of carbon neutrality, making them feel proud, and hopefully inspiring them to create similar initiatives in their own companies.
With increasing customer demand to decarbonise the supply base, and a need to differentiate from competitors, demonstrating climate leadership through carbon neutrality is proving a highly successful strategy for companies throughout the world. Starting in selected business locations or product areas, and building on that success to expand the programme, can showcase the enterprise value a net zero emissions programme will deliver.
Oceans, microplastic and a whole new way of thinking
By LSA Guest Blogger Beatrice Carpenter
The LSA Summer Event 2018 was not only topical it was inspirational, generously hosted by Taylor Wessing at their New Square office with its beautiful green roof terrace which provided a delightful and fitting venue for the conversational hot topic – plastic in the oceans. Gazing out over the roof tops of the city of London on a balmy summer evening one could be forgiven for thinking ocean pollution is a distant problem. The LSA guest speaker brought it right into the room for us all.
Emily Penn, a self-described,“skipper, ocean advocate and artist” and dedicated environmentalist, has been involved on a personal mission to clean our oceans and rid them of plastic waste for around 10 years. She became an oceanographer by accident, having hitched a ride on ‘Earthrace’ the world breaking bio fueled boat on the way to Australia and after that she was hooked.
Emily shared her experience of that first voyage, of her first clean up project on the islands of Tonga and of founding her now award winning team of all female crew on board eXXpedition. eXXpedition carry out research and testing to uncover the unseen damage single use plastic and the lack of its sustainable disposal is having on the world around us, particularly focused on the health impacts its degradation may have on women.
Emily’s speech shed a light on micro-plastics, the tiny fragments that float along the surface of the ocean, thousands of miles from any shore and shared her shocking revelation that when she had her own blood tested for toxins she discovered it contained 29 from a list of 35 banned substances. While no one can prove where they came from exposure to chemical treatments or toxins released from plastic as it breaks down may well be the cause.
Emily’s energy and passion captivated the room as she shared plans for her next adventure – the voyage to the North Pacific with her team due to start in a couple of weeks. You can follow her progress here and listen to her sharing her stories with Planet Pod on their podcast special.
It is easy to feel that our efforts are somewhat small when we see the grand scale of the damage, but a poignant message from the evening was that they are not. Micro-actions, just like the tiny fragments of floating plastic in our waters, can create significant changes. For a lot of firms only recently embarking on their journey to be more sustainable the focus should be on the small steps. Speaking of steps, Emily, a Parley for Oceans ambassador, shared the success of Adidas Parley trainer made entirely from recylced yarns and plastic recovered from the sea as an example of what corporate commitment can do to make change happen.
Emily’s journey to sea began when she discovered the notion of “Slow travel” across our planet. For her it involved taking a Camel as part of her route to China but this philosophy can also be applied to the movement towards a more sustainable lifestyle. It is when we pause and think of the consequences of our actions, that they are changed.
However, slow thought doesn’t mean slow progress. Although it begins with the little things, it requires making large-scale changes if we wish to give our earth time to heal from the damage we have put it through.
As Emily herself so neatly put it; “Sometimes when you’re on the ocean, the wind doesn’t always blow your way”. This serves somewhat as a metaphor for the uphill battle in dealing with our ocean pollution. It is clear to enable our waters to recover it will involve a process of reversing our mentality to plastic and encouraging people to take action.