Measuring a Carbon Footprint as a tool for Sustainable Governance
Mary Murphy, David Baxter February 2012
There are three numbers to remember for Climate Change
280, 350 and 390
is the number of parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere before the Industrial Revolution
is the number of parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere now
is the number of parts per million of carbon dioxide recommended as a safe level by scientists
Successful businesses are sustainable businesses
Sustainable businesses require ethical leadership, which is the key link in the chain between company strategy and sustainability.
Strategy must reflect sustainability. The King Report on Governance for South Africa 2009 (King III), which became effective on 1 March 2010, describes sustainability as “the primary moral and economic imperative and indicates that incremental changes towards sustainability are not sufficient.
” It calls for a fundamental shift in the way companies and directors act and organise themselves. 2011 represented the first year that JSE listed companies were required under King III to produce one report that integrates sustainability into its annual report. This signifies a fundamental shift in corporate reporting practice. “Reports based largely on financial information do not provide sufficient insight to enable stakeholders to form a comprehensive picture of the organisation’s performance and of its ability to create and sustain value, especially in the context of growing environmental, social and economic challenges.” (Mervyn E. King January 2011)
“Organisations that are at the forefront of the measurement and disclosure of carbon emissions, and that develop and implement sound carbon management strategies are better equipped to deal with the risks and opportunities in an increasingly complex carbon energy and water regulatory environment.”
Moses Kgosana, Chief Executive, KPMG in South Africa, Chairman and Senior Partner KPMG Africa
With the political disappointment at Copenhagen in 2009 and the continued slow progress made at the COP 17 meeting in Durban, it is more crucial than ever that business and individuals take responsibility and are accountable for their impact on Climate Change. Measuring and disclosing carbon emissions is a growing trend among business and thought leaders. There is a direct correlation between increased shareholder value and sustainability.
” 91% of European companies have disclosed CO2 emissions, 83% of JSE Top 100 Companies have also disclosed emissions”
Paul Simpson, CEO, Carbon Disclosure Project, CDP 2011 launch, December 2011 3
The Carbon Disclosure Project is an international initiative that was extended to South Africa in 2006. It involves an internationally recognised process of corporate reporting on climate change impacts. South Africa has comparatively high per capita greenhouse gas emissions, as well as a high national ecological footprint. It also has a high vulnerability to the impacts of climate change.
At the 2011 launch of the fifth annual South African Carbon Disclosure Report, Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan, said “South Africa is ranked second best for carbon disclosure participation in the world”, “an indicator of high transparency and an active democracy”. Gordhan believes we can be both competitive and sustainable. The first step is to conduct a carbon footprint, which “allows us to measure what we want managed”, he advised.
“A Carbon Footprint is the total set of GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions caused directly and indirectly by an individual, organization, event or product” (UK Carbon Trust 2008).” All GHG’s are measured in Carbon Dioxide equivalents, known as CO
How Carbon Countdown can help
Companies can derive considerable benefits from embarking on a Climate Change Response Programme including, but not limited to, the following:
Reduced Operating Costs:
Increased efficiencies result in decreased resource consumption and therefore reduced operating costs.
Differentiated Marketing and Communication:
Capitalise on the significant marketing and media opportunities associated with climate-aware companies.
Enhanced Brand Equity:
Improve reputation by differentiating offering and positioning it as a climate change leader in its sector.
Understand the potential liability associated with imminent carbon taxes, punitive tariff rises and other climate change-related legislation.
Increased Customer Loyalty and Trust:
Improve customer acquisition and retain the support of existing customers.
Decreased Employee Turnover:
Employees are proud to work for companies that are actively involved in the fight against global warming.
Broader Investor Appeal:
Ethical investment is now a consideration, with a particular concern for hidden carbon liabilities.
You cannot manage what you do not measure. Establishing a carbon footprint is a company’s first step in developing and managing a carbon reduction strategy.
Carbon reduction is an outcome of sustainability.
A carbon footprint is not only a key to responsible corporate governance it goes beyond what is required from a corporate governance perspective.
Measuring a Carbon Footprint
Understanding your business’s carbon footprint is the foundation on which real reduction and climate change mitigation can take place. Carbon Countdown uses the GHG (greenhouse gas) protocol when compiling carbon footprints, which leads to consistent and accurate assessments.
Carbon Countdown makes use of customised tools for the assessment process that follow international best practice methodologies of the GHG Accounting Protocol (WBCSD & WRI), and which are in line with ISO 14064.
Measuring a company’s carbon footprint involves a five-step process:
1. Plan: This involves setting up a team, setting objectives and establishing goals
2. Measure: This is the actual footprint itself
3. Reduce: Once a company is aware of its emissions it should set about reducing them – either through technical or behavioural changes
4. Offset: Having reduced their carbon footprint through a number of measures offsetting would involve the purchasing of credible carbon credits
5. Report: Once completed, reporting and communicating the message to the employees is the final step.
Carbon Footprint Planning Workshop
Analysis and Report Preparation
Figure 1: Example of a carbon footprint process.6
A. How a Carbon Footprint is measured
Step 1: Defining the scope
Carbon Countdown will define, along with you, the carbon impact of your organisation. We will then map out the structure of your business, define the scope of the measurement and determine the data required.
Step 2: Gathering Data
You will complete a simple data profile that we will provide you. Once you have completed the information we will collect and start to analyse.
Step 3: Carbon Audit
We will analyse your data and conduct your carbon audit using a carbon calculator designed for your business.
Step 4: Presentation and Recommendations
We will write up the findings and present to you. The final report includes recommendations for reduction and offsetting.
Step 5: Implementation
: As part of our corporate responsibility, we will plant a tree in a managed old-growth forest and assign a worm farm in your company name. You:
You will begin the exciting process of reducing your footprint and communicating your strategy and impacts with your staff and stakeholders.
B. The Cost
The cost is determined by the size of the organisation and the scope of the footprint. For an accurate quote, we need to understand more about your organisation. Specifically,
1. Number of offices
2. Area of operation (Regional, National, International)
3. Number of employees
4. Number of company vehicles (approx)
5. Number of travelling employees?
The Carbon Footprint Report
1. Executive Summary
5. Objectives and Boundaries
6. Greenhouse Gas Inventory
7. Scope 1: Direct Emissions
8. Scope 2: Indirect Emissions from Electricity Consumption
9. Scope 3: Indirect – Other
10. Scope Breakdown
11. Intensity Reporting
12. Assumptions and Limitations
13. GHG Comparisons and Benchmarking
14. Emissions Reduction Recommendations
Offsetting your Carbon Footprint
Carbon Countdown’s Sustainability Boot-Camp
Sustainability encompasses a broad range of environmental and social issues, tools, methodologies and philosophies. It is a difficult concept to understand given its recent inclusion in corporate governance, education, and legislation. Carbon Countdown can facilitate a Sustainability Boot-Camp for all levels of your business, from senior executives down to shop floor employees. We start with an overview of the company’s existing sustainability performance and use our findings to translate the concept of sustainability into practical solutions and measurable indicators. These indicators are used to fulfil the requirements of King III and the reporting requirements of the GRI.
The purpose of the Boot Camp is to ensure that everyone in the organisation understands the concept of sustainability and the behaviours that are required to achieve it. A Carbon Footprint facilitates a company’s understanding of its environmental impact, it provides a transparent view of sustainability practices, and provides a foundation for long-term sustainability. Our Sustainability Bootcamp provides the language and the tools to understand it.
Examples of topics covered include:
Sustainability was defined in 1987 as “development that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” (Brundtland Commission) This definition is explored, unpacked debated and some alternatives offered.
A short history of the development of sustainability as a concept and a business practice:
From the establishment of the World Wide Fund for Nature and the First UN Biosphere Conference in the 1960’s to Kyoto Protocol and the Climate Change negotiations of this decade.
Identifying Current Global Sustainability Challenges:
Going behind the ‘green’ lingo. Exploding concepts such as “Going Green”, “Farm Fresh”, “Organic”, “Low Emissions”, Recyclable”, “Natural”, “Green Team”, “Environmentally Friendly”, “and Carbon Free/Neutral”.
Exploring a company’s specific sustainability challenges such as:
Distance to market,
Health and Safety,
Relating these issues back to the business concerned and constructing a risk profile of their activities:
Exploring a company’s environmental risk profile in relation to its operations.
Reviewing existing sustainability policy, procedures, measurements and reporting practices.
An exploration of the potential solutions for mitigating those risks
Learning from local and international case studies.
Detailing specific actions within a sustainability framework.
Assessing existing sustainability tools.
Increasing operational efficiencies.
Mapping a clear plan of action.
Reporting outcomes. 9
“It is my hope that [integrated reporting] will prompt a greater understanding of the sustainability challenges facing human kind.” Mervyn E King, Chair of the Integrated Reporting Committee, January 2011
Sustainability Report Assurance
Assurance of a sustainability report encourages transparency, builds accountability and provides verification – key principles in Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance. We use the AA 1000 assurance standards to investigate and interrogate the validity of sustainability reporting. The assurance process ultimately leads to better sustainability reporting that embed the AA 1000 principles of Materiality, Inclusivity and Responsiveness.
Meeting the Press
Engagement with the media is a key part of any organisations activities. A well-written press release can add value to an organisation and deliver information to a range of stakeholders.
Selecting the right media for the ‘right’ story
How to get more press coverage using the 80/20 rule
The Do’s and Don’ts of PR
Building a relationship with journalists
Writing a press release:
The First Paragraph – grabbing an editor’s attention in the first three lines
Including the six golden rules
The three golden rules of writing
Measuring your PR using a Harvard Business School calculator
Environmental Policy Workshop
Based on the risk profile we will workshop how to achieve a Sustainability Policy that both meets international standards and offers the potential for a company to meet and exceed best practice.
All activities, products or services can cause impacts on the environment. An environmental policy should recognise and illustrate this. 10
We will take a company through the principles of an environmental policy building on existing international principles, which include:
The environmental policy should be defined by top management
The nature and scale must be applicable to activities, products and services as defined by the scope
Statements’ of continual improvement and prevention of pollution must be evident
Inclusion of a commitment to comply with legal and other requirements
Knowledge, acceptance and interpretation of the policy by personnel and employees
The process of availability of the policy to the public.
Companies are well aware of Corporate Governance. Annual Reports have become embedded in governance. ESG, or Environmental, Social, Governance is only partly understood. Most understand, and know how to report on the financial health of a company. There is growing understanding of the social implications of business. Now, with the requirements of King III and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) organisations have to understand, measure and report on their sustainability impacts. Under King III, companies now not only need to measure their economic and social impact, they also need to measure, report on, mitigate and consider initiatives to reduce their impact on the environment.
Our Sustainability Scorecard is designed to give a company a quick and clear overview of what exists within the organisation. It is based on the GRI indicators and JSE SRI Index criteria. It provides a framework for benchmarking and shows where a company can exceed best practice
Although generic in construction, it provides a tailor-made approach that meets a company’s legal, ESG and GRI requirements.
On 10 March 2009, South Africa gazetted its new Waste Management Act. For the first time in our history, we are required to reduce our waste. Prior to our new legislation, our waste was managed by collection and disposal. Our new legislation is broadening our definition of waste management. It is also increasing our individual and corporate responsibility for the waste we produce.
There is a hierarchy to Waste Management. The recommended approach to managing waste is to first aim to reduce; then reuse, or finally recycle. The absolute last resort is 11
to dispose of it on a landfill site. The South African Government has committed to zero-waste-to landfill by 2022.
Our waste is growing faster than our economy at an estimated 7 percent per year. The cost to manage waste is also increasing.
Waste on landfills increases global warming through the constant emissions of greenhouse gases.
There are economic, legislative and environmental reasons to reduce waste. The first step is to know how much waste is being produced.
We will conduct a waste audit of your company detailing the source, types and impacts of the waste produced. These impacts include the environmental, social and economic.
Our recommended approach is then to workshop a waste management strategy that takes waste reduction as its first principle and includes all members of the organisation.
Here is an example of a section of an organic waste audit conducted by our team illustrating the extent of the audit.
StationdayWeightVolume carrot mushroom watermellon mellon pawpaw mangoother(s) / notesMain KitchenThurs (3hrs)515LettuceFri-Mon1011xStewed fruit, pears Fri-Mon1822xCooked potato, eggshells Fri-Sat1718xxxNo peels – all slices Fri-Sat1418xxAll peels of aboveThurs?1524 xPeels – preparation of oasis
ISO 14000/14001 EMS and Audit
Establishing an environmental system and auditing that system throughout an organisation is difficult for two reasons:
1. The concept of developing and measuring an entity’s environmental impact is relatively new. Businesses, for example, are used to building and measuring their business models around their financial sustainability but only recently understand
the need to develop environmental systems that predict and avoid the potential for environmental degradation. This is largely driven by legislation, emerging corporate governance frameworks, and third party influences.
2. The tools to build, measure and verify an Environmental Management System (EMS) are also relatively new. ISO 14001 provides the tools to both build and measure an EMS. It is built on the assumption that environmental management is an integral part of an organisation’s overall management system and that the design of an EMS is an ongoing and interactive process.
There are five principles of an EMS:
Principle 1 – Commitment and Policy
An organisation should define its environmental policy and ensure commitment to its EMS.
Principle 2 – Planning
An organisation should formulate a plan to fulfil its environmental policy.
Principle 3 – Implementation
For effective implementation, an organisation should develop the capabilities and support mechanisms necessary to achieve its environmental policy, objectives and targets.
Principle 4 – Measurement and evaluation
In addition, an organisation should measure, monitor and evaluate its environmental performance.
Principle 5 – Review and improvement
An organisation should review and continually improve its environmental management system, with the objective of improving its overall environmental performance. 13
Mary has a BA (Hons) in Peace Studies from the University of Ulster, an MA in International Relations (Wits) and is presently working towards her PhD (Rhodes) in Environmental Education. Her thesis uses a semiotic framework to describe and explore environmental risk and adopts a critical realist approach to justify presenting the text as a story. She is publishing a book about environmental issues with Penguin books in November. She taught an environmental education course at the University of Cape Town as part of the Bachelor of Education (Hons) degree in 2006
She trained as an ISO 14001 auditor and is trained to conduct carbon footprint assessments using the GHG Protocol.
Mary has 15 years’ experience in environmental education, research, media and solutions-based environmental approaches. She has been involved in numerous environmental projects, including the ‘plastic bag campaign’ with former Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Mohammed Valli Moosa. She co-ordinated ‘EEFriends’ an environmental education network for three years, which included the WWF, IUCN, Table Mountain National Park, Provincial and Local government and the South African National Biodiversity Institute. She conceived and presented “Environmental Matters” on SAfm (104-107) every Monday at 8:30pm from August 2005 to March 2007. She also worked with Robert Swan on Mission Antarctica. She headed up the Findings Report team at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. She has lead research teams and produced reports for companies across a range of issues.
Mary is the co-founder and Managing Director of FullCycle, and a member and director of Carbon Countdown, which offer sustainability products, training and consulting. Their emphasis is on environmental tools, services and education; and sustainable strategy and implementation respectively.
Citadel; Peregrine; Sun International; Spier Wine Estate; Nedbank; Pick ‘n Pay; Freshmark; Orient Express Group; Cybele Lodge; Al Jumeriah el Madinat 14
David graduated from Manchester University, England, with an Honours degree in Chemistry and a Masters degree in Molecular Engineering. To fulfil his interest in business, he worked in a leading UK retail company for six years. He left England in 2002 to be part of South Africa’s growing democracy. He worked for one of South Africa’s premium brands, Woolworths, as a planning manager in the competitive and challenging Kidswear department.
His work at Woolworths and experiences in South Africa deepened his passion for nature and sustainability. He decided to pursue his growing awareness for sustainability and recently completed his B.Phil (
) at the Sustainability Institute in Stellenbosch in Sustainable Development and Planning. He is especially interested in the field of Corporate Responsibility and its link to Sustainable Development. He has been appointed to the research panel for the JSE SRI Index for the year 2011. David has also completed the Certified Sustainability Assurance Practitioner (CSAP) qualification based on the AccountAbility AA 1000 standards.
David is Managing Director of Carbon Countdown, which offer sustainability services, training and consulting. Their emphasis is on sustainable strategy and implementation.
Helen’s first taste of Africa was at the age of thirteen when a work project brought her father and family from Europe for a five-year contract. After completing her high school education in the Northern Cape, Helen returned to Europe and worked in various sectors of the tourism industry, though the majority of the time was in aviation. With easy access to international travel, it was an opportunity to see how other countries were developing their tourism industries, and with this came a powerful realisation that tourism could be a force for change and make a positive difference to a destination, or it could have a negative impact on host communities and biodiversity if managed irresponsibly. When Helen returned permanently to Cape Town in 2001, this philosophy was the inspiration for starting up her consultancy company ‘Serendipity Africa’, which focuses on raising awareness of sustainable tourism development. Services offered range from responsible tourism training and mentoring, marketing guidance and support, assistance with sustainable tourism development plans in specific geographical regions to encourage businesses to incorporate ethical principles into day-to-day operations. 15
She is a member of the judging panel for ‘Imvelo’ – Southern Africa’s Responsible Tourism Awards, and is a qualified national trainer for Fair Trade Tourism South Africa (FTTSA). Helen is also a freelance travel writer and gets involved with media co-ordination to make sure the ‘good news’ stories get told. Her motto is making tourism work for people and the planet.
Grootbos Private Nature Reserve; Hog Hollow Country Lodge; Amakhala Game Reserve; Four Rosmead; Dyer Island Cruises & Marine Dynamics; Farm 215; !Khwa ttu San Culture Centre; Calabash Tours; The Dunes Country House & HillsNek Safaris; Storms River Adventures; African Insights; Face Africa; National Department of Tourism; National Development Agency SA; Green Goal 2010 Legacy Project; FTTSA; City of Cape Town
Published in Responsible Traveller, Africa Wild, Out There Adventure, Out There Travel and Travel Africa UK.
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