Who knew it could be so easy, in the end, to lower greenhouse gas emissions? Just introduce a global pandemic, prevent travellers from flying around the planet and halt the daily commute, and – presto! – clean air to breathe and perhaps a slight postponement of global warming.
Of course, the suffering caused by COVID-19 is too high a price to pay, but it’s worth pausing a moment to consider the pandemic’s silver lining, and how we can try to extend its positive environmental effects.
A fall in greenhouse gas emissions
Australia’s emissions from liquid fuels (used in industry, aviation and ground transport) were around 18% lower in the June quarter 2020 when compared with the same period in 2019. Agricultural emissions were also down, by almost 6%, although this was partly attributed to the continuing impact of the drought. But by the September quarter 2020 the effect of reducing the lockdown resulted in increasing emissions from transport, as well as higher agricultural emissions as the drought eased.
The gains can be reversed so quickly, but there are things we can do.
Waste not, want not
Running a sustainable business isn’t easy, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Waste in landfill produces methane, a particularly potent greenhouse gas, and the transport and disposal of large volumes of waste contributes further to emissions. Moving towards zero waste will go a long way towards reducing your carbon footprint, as well as cutting down the area of land consumed by landfill.
Begin by conducting a waste generation, management and disposal audit. This will help you identify where, how and when waste is being generated, and what happens to it. Then you can institute goals and policies to reduce, reuse and recycle your business waste. Strategies you could adopt include:
Adopting digital records so that you can go paperless
Refilling or recycling ink and toner cartridges
Donating old office equipment and furniture for reuse
Disposing of electronic waste (phones, tablets, computers, printers) at a specialist recycling facility
Introducing reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging material
Embrace renewable energy
Fossil fuels like coal, gas and oil are one of the main contributors to climate change. Now is the time to harness the benefits of renewable energy for your business, a plan that has the possible added advantage of cost reduction. Consider:
Installing solar panels at your premises
Taking the renewable energy or carbon credits option from your electricity provider
Introducing electric vehicles into your fleet
Preparing for electric farm machinery if you’re an agribusiness
Choose green web hosting and apps
The world’s major internet companies consume a lot of energy. A Greenpeace report identifies whether companies and apps are using mainly fossil fuels or renewable energy, and also considers their energy transparency, efficiency and mitigation. Download the report and scroll down to page 8 for the scorecards. (Spoiler: Apple, Facebook, Google, and their apps, get an ‘A’, Microsoft and eBay get a ‘B’, Amazon, HP and IBM get a ‘C’, and Twitter and Pinterest get an ‘F’.)
Choose your apps carefully, and do your bit by opting for green web hosting for your own business website.
Finance options to help you go green
Call your broker to discuss available finance options to help you go paperless, install solar panels, purchase electric vehicles, or introduce any other environmentally friendly strategy you have in mind.