One of the more unusual aspects of our programme is that we encourage you to create carbon handprints by helping others to reduce their emissions. Technically these are known as "Avoided Emissions" as you are helping others to avoid emissions they would otherwise have made.
Examples of ways in which you can do this include:
Every product and material we buy uses energy to make and transport to us which means it has its own carbon footprint. We call this the 'embedded carbon' of the things we buy. When we reuse or recycle materials and products we are saving some of this embedded carbon. The difference between the carbon produced by reusing or recycling compared with the embedded carbon of making a new product is called an 'avoided emission' and this counts as a carbon handprint.
It's not enough to simply recycle our own waste, or to make reusable or recyclable products. We can only claim a handprint when we take responsibility for reusing or recycling waste that our own organisation has not generated.
Every product that we sell has the embedded carbon of the materials and processes we use to make it. Many products that we sell also create emissions during their life, from using energy, consuming materials or creating waste. If we can create and sell a product which has a lower lifetime carbon footprint than the alternative product, then the difference between these is an avoided emission and counts as a carbon handprint. Of course, your handprint multiplies with every product that you sell, so the more successful your business, the greater the size of your handprint.
Usually, we need to work collaboratively to have the biggest impact, and we want to encourage you to help the businesses and people you are most closely connected with reduce their climate impact too. So, if you work with one of your suppliers or customers on a specific project that helps them to reduce their carbon footprint, by saving energy, consuming less material or reducing waste we will count the carbon saved as part of your handprint.
It is not enough for the project to reduce the carbon footprint of the products and services you buy and sell. To claim a handprint the project must also help reduce the emissions of other organisations unrelated to your own.
If we are going to reach the global goal of net zero by 2050 we need as many people in our boat, rowing with us, as we can possibly get. So, to encourage you to help other businesses start the journey towards climate positive, we will count any carbon reductions that businesses you have introduced to the community make as a part of your handprint.
You may ask, "Isn't this double counting?" and, if our goal was to add up all of the carbon footprints of our members to calculate a total, then you would be right.
Our goal, however, is to understand and increase the total impact of the actions that each member has taken towards tackling the climate emergency, because...
"The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step" - Lao Tzu
Avoided Emissions are calculated by comparing your actual emissions with a "counterfactual" scenario. In other words, we calculate what the emissions would have been if your carbon saving project/product did not exist and credit you the difference between this and your actual emissions.
If you are a member of the Road to Net Zero programme, any avoided emissions you generate will be recognised on your certificate as a "Contribution to wider impact" (see Certification page for details).
We have previously offered "Climate Positive" certification, however we do not currently promote this for the following reason:
Our current view is that any organisation claiming to be "Climate Positive" (or "Carbon Negative, which means the same thing) must first have attained Net Zero emissions (meaning they must have reduced their carbon footprint by at least 90% compared with their baseline). They may then become Climate Positive by removing additional CO2 from the atmosphere.
Whilst this is certainly possible, for most businesses this will be several years (or decades) away, so we don't think it is helpful to be promoting this as an outcome at this time, as it could cause confusion or distraction from the critical task of achieving Net Zero.