Corporate decarbonisation is becoming increasingly important in the debate on sustainable development. Indeed, decarbonisation is necessary to align one's company to a so-called "net-zero" trajectory to reach the global climate goals, namely to stay well below 2°C, as cited in the Paris Agreement. That's why this issue will become critical for organisations in the coming years, so now is the time to take action. Companies must implement decarbonisation pathways and strategies to gain substantial competitive advantage and generate business value.
One of the main drivers of a company’s performance is its capacity to grow. In other words, growth is synonymous with a company’s health and increased profits. Considering that reducing emissions and decarbonisation is a business imperative, the following question arises: how do you decarbonise your business as you experience growth?
Indeed, startups often experience hyper-growth and if they are not required by law to report on their emissions, many startups integrate sustainable development by conviction or for other business reasons. For example, the FrenchTech announced this week that the start-ups of the FrenchTech120 are required to make a carbon footprint report before the end of 2023.
To understand the challenges and solutions of developing businesses while decarbonising, Plan A organised the second volume of its event series: Sustainability Encounters, at WeWork in Paris. Here are the takeaways of the events, alongside a detailed breakdown of the event’s carbon footprint.
Takeaways on how to decarbonise companies while growing?
The panel discussion gave us great insights into organisations' decarbonisation and climate action. The panel was composed of diverse actors in the tech, mobility and IT sectors:
- Hanae Chino - Group ESG Strategy Director at Webhelp
- Olivier Marchand - Climate manager at Talan
- François Hoehlinger - CEO at Troopy
What is decarbonisation?
In concrete terms, this means reducing direct or induced emissions. In stages, it means
1/ Assessing these emissions to understand where they are located.
2/ Defining scientific objectives to reduce them (e.g. science-based targets).
3/ Implementing a measurable action plan to reach the defined objectives.
Why reduce carbon emissions?
Two main reasons:
- It's time: we can no longer ignore the fact that the climate crisis will not slow without our collective efforts to minimise environmental impact.
- It's not that complicated. You just have to start somewhere and it's by starting that you realise that a lot of things can be done in the short term and that there is a snowball effect. You just have to get started.
Growth and decarbonisation: Is it possible to grow your business while reducing emissions? And how to do it?
🖥️ For the tech industry, based on resources that will not be unlimited, it is necessary to integrate these issues in even seemingly less polluting sectors because it is the survival of the sector that is at stake. It is also a responsibility, all growth involves decisions. We need to grow companies that allow us to reduce emissions.
🦄 For startups, it's all about building your business from the ground up: why take the risk of not being compliant with changing regulations, and not differentiating yourself from the start? Here are a few guidelines to help you:
- Build well from the start,
- Companies often pollute by producing. It is important to limit aberrations and build more durable and reusable things (awareness is key),
- Surround yourself with experts who can accompany the process (like Plan A).
🌿 The ecosystem is asking for decarbonisation. Customers expect from partners/service providers to be committed to these issues. Thus, big companies also have in-house experts on these subjects (e.g. life cycle analysis expert). It is necessary to integrate decarbonisation into the whole value chain and not only as a component for one’s company to grow its commercial opportunities and to differentiate itself.
Talent: they are sensitive to these issues, even on subjects that may seem trivial. To retain talent and recruit the best profiles to grow, it is becoming increasingly important for employees to work for a business that aligns to their values and that is conscious about the planet.
🧑🤝🧑 For the service industry, this revolves around key items that are generally the same:
- Scope 1 and 2:
- Switch to cleaner energy
- Scope 3:
- Mobility: offering alternatives to the car, encouraging carpooling,
- Suppliers: Choose more responsible options and build relationships based on trust,
- Increasing the lifespan of products used: e.g. IT equipments,
- Optimise the end-of-life of used products: information assets,
- Anticipate all new developments in the company (e.g. opening of a new site: think about its accessibility by transport, to limit the use of the car).
For IT specifically, we need to ask ourselves how we build software to be more virtuous (also a way to specifically engage the sector and develop differentiated expertise). There is a real synergy between impact and security. Many developers reuse existing code snippets that neither optimise program effectiveness nor have flaws. This too requires education, and not necessarily taking the easy way out.
Climate action requires education regardless of the size of the company. Educate your employees, stakeholders and suppliers on decarbonisation. For new companies, this is all the more important from the outset to ensure that it is integrated into the company's culture and in all functions in the areas concerned.
- Decarbonisation needs to be supported by management, and a budget
- Users must become stakeholders.
- You need: Education, conviction, anticipation
- We must consider all the organisation’s ecosystems
- We must constantly challenge ourselves
Decarbonisation use case: The carbon footprint of our event
We used our events module management to track the carbon emissions from our event, enabling us to calculate emissions activity automatically.
To make our data accurate, we asked each participant to complete a short survey accessible through a QR code at the beginning of the event to monitor travel and accommodation emissions. Then, at the end of the event, we carefully weighed each bin per waste category. We also collected data on energy usage, logistics and catering. Once we collected the data, we entered it into the platform, yielding the magic number we needed.
Our event’s total emissions are 422.67 kg CO₂e. Based on our analysis, here is the breakdown of the emissions per category, covering scopes 1, 2 and 3.
- Heating: 4.86 kg CO₂e
- Energy: 8.24 kg CO₂e
- Business travel: 59.48 kg CO₂e
- Accommodation: 17.2 kg CO₂e
- Catering: 344.36 kg CO₂e
- Logistics: 0 kg CO₂e
- Waste: 1.43 kg CO₂e
We focused on being as local as possible (e.g. local wine, and local food from a local business). Our brochures were printed on 100% recycled paper. We also prioritised using real crockery instead of disposable plates and cups. Finally, we chose a location that was central and easy to access by public transport, foot, or bicycle.
This event is a decarbonisation milestone, as we decreased our emissions by almost 200 kg CO₂e, compared to the first event we organised in Berlin. We are aiming to constantly decarbonise our events, and improve our strategy each time.
Take control of the decarbonisation journey of your company. Have a chat with our decarbonisation experts.