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Do I need to calculate my carbon footprint every year?

This is something that we get asked a lot and the simple answer is yes you do.

Calculating your carbon emissions is the first step on your journey to net zero, but it is a journey. Our Carbon Coaches can support you and help you make the right decisions on the way, but a zero emissions business is unlikely to happen overnight and businesses need to have a regular review of their activities, emissions and results to keep them on track.

Why calculate your carbon footprint?

Calculating your carbon footprint is important as it allows you to understand how your organisation and those associated with the production, distribution and destruction of its goods is contributing to climate change. Finding out what your carbon footprint is, therefore, allows you to identify ways to reduce it and ultimately have a positive impact on tackling climate change.

But your first calculation is a benchmark, a line in the sand, a chance to understand where you are right now and the scale of the task ahead to reduce your emissions. Calculating your carbon footprint on an annual basis allows you to monitor your emissions over time. This allows you to track and identify how effective your reduction plans are. If you set your organisation a net zero target, annual calculations will allow you to identify your progress towards meeting this target.

What gets measured, gets managed

Often the most time consuming – but most important element- of any carbon reduction plan is the initial data gathering and validation exercise that allows us to accurately calculate a business’s current carbon footprint. Once a business has submitted its emission’s data, our subsequent report will highlight the size of emissions, their sources, including any hot spots and then our Carbon Coaches will create an action plan to empower the business to reduce what it can and help offset what they currently can’t.  Data is the key to all of this, and we should never underestimate the motivational power of measuring something. At Go Climate Positive, for example, we regularly track the total emissions reduced, avoided and offset.   This is a lovely way to recognise the efforts of the team, it makes our goals and our purpose tangible, and of course, helps us see that we are achieving something worthwhile. Needless to say, next year we want to see an even bigger carbon reduction on behalf of our clients.

Annual Cycle of Carbon Reduction

 As we do with our own business, we use an annual cycle of calculation, reduction, offsetting, accreditation and support to help our clients achieve their carbon reduction goals. The aim is that carbon reduction will become an integral part of their annual business planning, which is then supported by daily activities. 

But like any end of year accounting or financial reporting, it is imperative that a business understands its carbon reduction results – sometimes on a granular scale – to ensure its efforts and action plans stay on track. You wouldn’t wait two years for your accounts to see if your business was profitable, and it is equally as important to have regular progress reports on your carbon reduction objectives.

Change is a constant

There has been much rhetoric along with many column inches and blog posts devoted to the fact that businesses – large and small- are experiencing unprecedented times. It seems the only constant factor in business is change. For this reason carbon reduction plans  must be reviewed regularly. To manage changes in customer expectation, changes in product, adapt to growth or shrinkage, businesses must change. This means businesses will change premises, change fleets, change suppliers and even change products, all of which will have an impact on their carbon emissions – and those of their new value chain. If carbon reduction is a long-term objective, it is possible that any of these changes were engineered through that lens and made with the intent of reducing emissions, but without specific knowledge of how and where to measure these emissions it is also possible that changes such as these might send a business backwards in its carbon emissions plans.

Updated Carbon Reduction Plans

A business plan is a critical tool - not just during the start-up phase, but for established businesses also. Reviewing your business plan and updating it regularly gives you a chance to monitor your progress and take corrective or remedial action if things aren't going to plan. For this same reason, all Carbon Footprints and resulting action plans need to be reviewed each year.

But rather than an onerous task see this as an opportunity to engage key stakeholders; suppliers, distributors, customers and staff who all have a key role to play. Reviewing their roles – and resulting impact on your long-term targets- will keep them motivated to adopt best practice in pursuit of shared goals.

Updated Carbon Reduction Certification

One of the key benefits Go Climate Positive offers clients is the ability to certificate their carbon reduction claims and achievements. We are confident that our rigorous formula for measuring, then reducing carbon can be independently verified and validated, which leads to a transparent and credible process.

Part of our support includes publishing a client’s carbon footprint, including a bespoke certification web page, to tell their stakeholders what they are doing to reduce and offset their emissions. We also supply a Go Climate Positive badge which can be used within all marketing communications. But such

is the rigour that we apply to this certification process, that it must be updated – and validated- every year.  Due to the many variables outlined above, we feel it is appropriate that no certificated business goes more than 12 months without undergoing a Carbon Footprint review. But we think this adds to the prestige – and credibility- of the award.

Time to shout about Carbon Reduction achievements

Another good reason for annual carbon footprint calculations is that it provides your business with the opportunity to let your key stakeholders; clients, prospects, suppliers and staff know how far you have travelled on your journey to Net Zero.  Whether it is part of your annual report, a newsletter, a slot at the company conference or a stream of social media posts, this is a great time to let people know what you've achieved, what progress you have made, what changes you have implemented and what your next steps are as part of your commitment to carbon reduction. This annual reminder that your business takes its role seriously is as good a time as any to promote your brand to top of mind for some very positive reasons. 

Why you should Calculate your Carbon Footprint every year

Measuring your carbon footprint properly is the only way to know whether you are reducing it. In the same way business plans and financial performance are measured every year, it is important to recognise, and even celebrate any achievements in your carbon emission activities. These achievements in carbon reduction can also be highly motivational for your staff and a way to engage with your customers and will see them continue their efforts – on behalf of your Net Zero goals –until the next time you can provide some successful results.

f you would like to start your journey to Net Zero,  get in touch with our Carbon Coaches today.

Please get in touch if you have any questions about this, or any other aspect of the Go Climate Positive programme.

© Go Climate Positive Limited

21 Naunton Lane, Cheltenham, Gloucs, UK GL53 7BJ

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