Avoid, reduce, and compensate - this should be the motto of every climate-neutral company. Not without reason is climate change one of the most important challenges of our time. Scientists paint a bleak scenario in the event that there is no profound turnaround - and soon. The goal should always be to avoid or at least reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This is a responsibility that everyone must assume. Jörg Roggensack, management consultant and DQS auditor, describes in an interview how he went about making his company climate neutral.
Corporate climate management faces the concrete challenge of making a contribution against climate change. However, greenhouse gas emissions - especially CO2 - are often unavoidable in order to maintain ongoing business operations. For example, emissions are generated by industrial production processes, by energy consumption for mobility or during major events.
However, more and more companies and organizations are becoming aware of their social responsibility and want to make an active contribution to environmental protection.
"Any company that has made the decision can "go carbon neutral."
First of all, this doesn't mean that you can't emit greenhouse gases from now on. Rather, there are instruments you can use to offset your own emissions. The focus here is on reducing anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, especially carbon dioxide (CO2). This is a responsibility that all companies - regardless of size and industry - must take on.
For many, the road to becoming a climate-neutral company is still quite long. But it's worth it - whether for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) or major international corporations. After all, environmentally friendly business practices are playing an increasingly important role in your customers' purchasing decisions or their choice of employer.
What is a climate-neutral organization?
"Avoid - reduce - compensate": that is the short formula for climate-neutral action. The first option should therefore be to avoid greenhouse gas emissions or, as a second option, at least to reduce them.
If greenhouse gas emissions can neither be avoided nor reduced, organizations have the option of becoming "climate neutral." First of all, carbon neutrality does not mean that your organization does not emit greenhouse gases (GHG). Rather, there are tools you can use to offset your own emissions.
"For the identified unavoidable GHG emissions, your company buys certificates from projects that are not only carbon neutral but sequester GHGs and are therefore climate positive, these are called CO2 sinks."
The following points, among others, are important when selecting such climate protection projects:
1. Additionality: the projects would not exist without financing through offset certificates.
2. Permanence: the projects are designed to last. For example, reforestation projects do not re-cut forests at a later date.
3. External recognition of the project, for example by Gold Standard, VCS.
"The above-mentioned certificates for the voluntary compensation of greenhouse gas emissions are not to be confused with the trading of emission rights according to the Kyoto Protocol. Here, too, the term "certificates" is often used."
Causes of CO2 emissions
CO2 emissions are often unavoidable if business operations are to be maintained. Greenhouse gas emissions are caused, for example, by industrial production processes, by energy consumption for mobility, at major events or even by daily energy consumption in private households.
Causers of CO2 emissions are for example (by share):
- Energy generation - approx. 39 %
- Industry - approx. 23 %
- Transport - approx. 20 % (incl. individual transport, for example for business trips)
- Building management - approx. 16 % (incl. private housing)
- Agriculture - approx. 2 % (but main producer of the greenhouse gas methane)
However, it is not only large companies in energy or heavy industry that pollute the atmosphere with GHG emissions and thus promote climate change. SMEs, however small, are also affected, albeit to a much lesser extent. But even - and especially - small companies can live up to their responsibility: perhaps more easily than you might think!
Determining the CO2 inventory
A prerequisite for systematic CO2 emission savings is the correct determination of your individual Corporate Carbon Footprint (CCF), the CO2 inventory of your company and/or your products. Other greenhouse gases are converted into CO2 equivalents in the course of the inventory, and also recorded.
The determination is usually carried out along international guidelines such as the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG Protocol) or the ISO 14064-1 standard. The following subdivision of emissions has now become established worldwide:
Scope 1 - Direct emissions from the organization's operations, for example, from company-owned power plants, vehicle fleets, or chemical processes.
Scope 2 - Indirect emissions resulting from the generation of energy sourced from outside the organization, this is mainly electricity and heat.
Scope 3 - Indirect emissions caused by the company's activities but not under its control, for example from suppliers, service providers, customers or recycling (upstream and downstream).
The so-called materiality analysis has proven its worth. With its help, the relevant CO2 reduction potential can be easily determined and the measures for reducing CO2 emissions can be derived. Examples are:
- Use of green electricity
- Use of modern, efficient equipment
- Environmentally friendly heating
- Environmentally friendly driving or transportation
- Use of digital technology, etc.
For the correct recording or calculation of the remaining corporate carbon footprint, it is advisable to involve a specialist who carries this out in accordance with suitable regulations such as the GHG Protocol or ISO 14064-1:2018. The credibility and resilience of your greenhouse gas inventories can also be significantly increased through verification by an independent body such as DQS.
How does an organization become climate neutral?
Interview with Mr. Jörg Roggensack, JR Management Services & Qualification
DQS expert Altan Dayankac spoke with Jörg Roggensack about how companies can strive for and achieve CO2-neutral operations. Roggensack is the owner of JR Management Services & Qualification and a long-standing DQS auditor.
Why is it important to be a carbon neutral company?
Mr. Roggensack, what arguments do you use to persuade other organizations of "climate-neutral business"?
Good question! I always try to get responsible people in my network interested in the topic of "climate-neutral business" through publications on my homepage, Twitter and Facebook, as well as through appropriate press releases. In addition, I try to convey, for example, that the emission certificates not only reduce emissions, but also support and promote other topics of the so-called "17 sustainability goals".
I try to get SMEs interested in the topic, according to the motto: A lot helps a lot.
For example, I also try to get small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) excited about the topic, following the motto that "A lot helps a lot". If SMEs embrace the topic, then all of us together can achieve more than individual large companies, which are now increasingly setting themselves the medium-term goal of becoming climate-neutral. Overall, however, there is still a lot of room for improvement when it comes to sustainability.
What approaches do you recommend to organizations?
Interested organizations should look for an appropriate partner and not try to reinvent the wheel. Certainly, larger companies can hire qualified employees in staff functions to perform the relevant calculations themselves in accordance with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (especially for small companies) or ISO 14064-1.
However, from a project management perspective and to keep costs under control, working with external experts is more than helpful and purposeful. A good service provider first determines the CCF and proposes improvement measures. Companies that are already certified to ISO 14001, EMAS or ISO 50001 have clear advantages here.
Once the improvements have been made, the CCF is determined again. Only then does compensation take place via emission certificates.
Climate neutrality: Find a partner - and don't reinvent the wheel.
What tipped the scales in favor of making your own company climate-neutral?
I work according to the so-called "Values of the honorable merchant". Sustainability is a central theme here. I am also a DQS auditor for the ISO 14001 environmental standard and an EMASeasyTM consultant. As a matter of principle, I try to exemplify what I pass on to SMEs as an auditor, consultant and trainer.
A mere certification according to ISO 14001 or a validation according to EMAS does not have the same importance for me as the actual implementation of continuous improvements and "living" your values.
What methods did you use to approach this challenging task?
As a former Operations Manager for Braun Household Products in Europe, I am used to implementing demanding tasks in a goal-oriented manner. In this case, however, I sought professional support from the German company Fokus-Zukunft GmbH & Co. KG. This way, I was able to correctly record my CCF in accordance with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol.
In the run-up, I had already implemented all CO2-reducing measures within the scope of my possibilities. This includes among others:
- the use of green electricity,
- the digital bookkeeping,
- consistent use of digital and cloud-based office applications,
- the creation of a climate-neutral website,
- the purchase of a EURO 6 vehicle for business trips, and
- renting office space that can be heated in an environmentally friendly manner.
How do you manage to operate in a CO2-neutral way?
With the help of the above-mentioned measures to avoid and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we do not yet operate in a CO2-neutral manner. I also offset the remaining emissions by purchasing emissions certificates. Specifically, this involves supporting a climate protection project to generate emission-free hydropower on the Senegal River in Mali. My carbon footprint, which serves as a baseline for offsetting unavoidable emissions, is the CCF.
Climate-neutral company: What is the financial outlay?
The financial outlay is kept absolutely within limits. The whole project, including external support, the internal effort and the purchase of the certificates, cost me about 700 euros. This does not include the CO2-neutral website, which cost another 150 euros. In total, this will make me climate neutral for three years.
For seminars that I conduct through my training center, I regularly purchase current emission certificates. And the seminar participants do not incur any additional costs as a result.
Mr. Roggensack, thank you very much for the informative interview!
|About:||JR Management Services & Qualification|
|Founded||2005, since 2017 full time|
|Turnover 2019||160.000 €|
|Company activity||Supporting SMEs to create a sustainable and successfully operating organization through auditing, consulting and qualification as well as coaching.|
|Special features||All services and seminars are conducted in a climate-neutral manner.|
|Other||DQS lead auditor for ISO 9001 and ISO 14001, EMASeasyTM consultant, consultant for the German "Offensive Mittelstand", EFQM Master Assessor.|
Conclusion: The climate-neutral organization
Even small and very small companies can bring their CO2 balance down to zero. The so-called materiality analysis, with which the relevant CO2 reduction potentials are determined, and subsequently the measures for the reduction of CO2 emissions are derived, for example the use of green electricity, the use of modern, efficiently operating equipment, environmentally friendly heating, environmentally friendly driving or transport and the use of digital technology etc., has proven itself here.
For the correct recording and calculation of the remaining CO2 footprint (Corporate Carbon Footprint, CCF), it is advisable to involve a specialist who carries this out in accordance with suitable regulations such as the GHG Protocol or ISO 14064-1.
In this way, suitable projects aimed at reducing CO2 emissions can be supported by purchasing certificates to offset the CO2 emissions calculated from the CCF. This makes it easy to achieve the goal of climate neutrality.
However, caution is required when selecting certificates and climate protection projects. In the meantime, there are also many dubious providers on the market.
Reading tip: The chemical company Zeller + Gmelin has succeeded in achieving climate neutrality at its headquarters in Eislingen, Germany. The basis for the successful climate management: numerous energy saving projects and a certificate according to ISO 50001. More in the interview in the DQS Blog.
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