A survey released this week showed increasing oversight by top executives in their climate change strategies. Ninety-two percent of respondents indicated their company's board or high-level executive had oversight over climate strategies, which is an increase of six percentage points from the 2011 survey.
The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) received responses from 338 of the S&P 500 firms indicating progress in carbon emissions reduction goals as well as disclosing these results. CDP offers a system for cities and companies to measure and share their environmental action.
Companies such as Microsoft Corp, United Parcel Service, Hess Corp, Pepco Holdings, and Sempra Energy Utilities are not waiting to address the risks from climate change to their overall business goals. Man-made or not, these companies won’t wait around to figure out who caused climate change. They’re taking steps now to lessen their financial risk.
Eighty-one percent of survey respondents identified physical risk from climate change, with 37 percent considering the risks "a real and present danger" – an increase of 10 percent from two years ago. Eighty-three percent of companies reported that climate change had been factored into corporate risk management strategies, which was only at 75 percent in 2011.
These results directly contrast with a distinct hesitation in the regulation of greenhouse gases by U.S. lawmakers. Congress’ opinions on climate change run the gamut from ambivalence to skepticism to even outright disbelief. Fortunately businesses that are beholden to their shareholders see the value in planning for climate change since it will certainly impact their bottom lines.
We’ve already examined and defined a carbon footprint, but have you ever heard of an ecological footprint? An ecological footprint compares human demands on nature with the Earth's ability to regenerate resources and provide services.
Ecological footprints are ever changing because of advances in technology and a three-year lag for the UN to collect and publish statistics. However, it is a standardized measure that begins by assessing the amount of biologically productive land and sea area necessary to supply the resources a human population uses. This is then contrasted with the planet’s ability to absorb associated waste and ecological capacity to regenerate. Think of it like how much of the Earth (or how many planet Earths) it would take to support humanity given an average lifestyle. In 2007, humanity's total ecological footprint was estimated at 1.5 planet Earths. This means humans are currently using ecological services 1.5 times quicker than Earth can renew them.
William Rees was the first academic to publish about an ecological footprint in 1992. He supervised the PhD dissertation of Mathis Wackernagel who outlined the concept and offered a calculation method. Rees penned the term ecological footprint in a more accessible manner than the original name of “appropriated carrying capacity” after a computer technician described Rees’ new computer as having a small footprint on the desk. Wackernagel and Rees published the book Our Ecological Footprint: Reducing Human Impact on the Earth in early 1996.
The implications are dire according to Rees who wrote in 2010, “…the average world citizen has an eco-footprint of about 2.7 global average hectares while there are only 2.1 global hectare of bioproductive land and water per capita on earth. This means that humanity has already overshot global biocapacity by 30% and now lives unsustainabily by depleting stocks of ‘natural capital’.”
We’re definitely overspending the planet’s resources. Just take a look at man-made global warming and climate change. We need to continue on the path to seeking a sustainable lifestyle, and do it on a global scale. All of us working together can reduce the amount of the earth’s resources that we consume. Start with yourself and get creative with how many ways you can save energy and recycle. What’s great about beginning with energy efficiency is that it can save you money too. Then there are cost effective ways to offset the rest such as by contributing to Carbonfund.org’s development of renewable energy technologies and carbon emissions reduction projects. The important thing is to get started right away.
It seems only fitting that a business that depends entirely on organic and natural herbs, flowers, and medicinal plants would maintain a strong commitment to environmentally responsible business practices. Carbonfree® Business Partner Mountain Rose Herbs sets a high standard in this regard and has made significant steps in following Carbonfund.org’s motto of “reduce what you can, offset what you can’t™” by lessening its energy consumption prior to neutralizing their remaining annual operational emissions with Carbonfund.org.
Mountain Rose Herbs’ primary facility was constructed with LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards and relies heavily on natural lighting. Energy demand was further reduced by making a complete lighting upgrade to energy-efficient bulbs in their principal facilities and installing Energy-Star rated heating and cooling systems. In addition, Mountain Rose Herbs upgraded all their computers to those with Gold Star ratings for energy conservation, minimal shipment packaging and elimination of environmentally-harmful materials as well as more energy-efficient flat screen monitors. Mountain Rose Herbs converted all electrical usage to their local Greenpower program to ensure that a significant portion of their electricity comes from wind and solar sources.
Despite all of these energy-saving measures and efficiency enhancements, Mountain Rose Herbs still generates a measurable annual carbon emissions footprint from its business operations. In order to neutralize these annual operational emissions, Mountain Rose Herbs has partnered with Carbonfund.org for the past four years to measure and offset these unavoidable emissions by supporting Carbonfund.org’s clean energy and carbon reduction projects.
"If we are to move past coal and look forward to a greener future that is full of alternative energy, then we must support the endeavors of Carbonfund.org, who are creating the infrastructure necessary to make it happen," states Shawn Donnille, Vice President of Mountain Rose Herbs.
We applaud Carbonfree® Partner Mountain Rose Herbs for pursuing a meaningful commitment to environmentally-conscious business operations, measuring and neutralizing their annual carbon emissions, and supporting our clean air technology projects.
As part of Carbonfund.org’s mission toward a ZeroCarbonTM world, our programs make it easy and affordable for any individual, business or organization to reduce and offset their climate impact and hasten the transition to a clean energy future. This focus on simplicity and affordability made it a natural to expand our partnership with CarbonFree® Business Partner Propel Fuels to create an at-the-gas-pump CarbonOffset program supporting clean air technology.
Last May, Carbonfund.org partnered with Propel Fuels, a retailer of renewable fuels that began offering consumers the ability to offset their driving emissions at the Clean Mobility Center in Fullerton, California any time they fill their gas tank. Customers may select the CarbonOffset option at the pump, and the funds will go towards Carbonfund.org’s clean air projects that spur technology developments to reduce carbon emissions.
Since CarbonOffset was launched in May, customers have chosen to contribute $1.00 per fill to fully offset the emissions from their fuel purchase more than 1,000 times. The two-month pilot has offset more than 160,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions at this single station, which is equivalent to taking 84 cars off the road in the same two-month time period. CarbonOffset contributions from the program’s first year of operation will help support Carbonfund.org’s Truck Stop Electrification project, which improves air quality around truck stops and surrounding communities and offers drivers, employees and residents a cleaner and quieter environment with fewer harmful air pollutants.
"The early success of Propel's CarbonOffset program is strong evidence that consumers are ready and willing to support clean energy, especially if the cost and benefits are clear," said Eric Carlson, President of Carbonfund.org. "Thanks to Propel, thousands of drivers can vote with their dollars to support clean energy and domestic, renewable fuels."
If the CarbonOffset program continues at its current rate of participation, the program has the potential to offset more than 5 million pounds of carbon emissions over the next five years at this station alone, making a measurable contribution to emission reductions and a cleaner environment. Carbonfund.org is proud to partner in this ground-breaking program and to facilitate a simple and cost-effective method for vehicle emissions offsetting through supporting clean air technology.