How Your Brand Can Participate in the Paris Climate Agreement

Business leaders from the world’s top companies including Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Nike, Hewlett Packard, PG&E, and many more are taking a stand to support the Paris Climate Agreement. While Michael Bloomberg’s commitment to contribute $15 million to the United Nations on behalf of the United States is a milestone on the road to a low carbon economy, many businesses are not in a position to offer that level of financial support. Nevertheless, there are numerous ways for businesses — both small and large — to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and participate in the Paris Climate Agreement.

Here are 7 ways your business can take a stand on climate action:

1) Measure your footprint: The first step to cutting carbon emissions is to measure your business’ carbon footprint. This means taking account for, not only the direct impact of the energy you use during business hours, but also for the lifecycle emissions of your entire operation. The Carbon Footprint Calculator and Ceres’ Supplier Self-Assessment Tool are great places to get started.

2) Set targets: As Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said, “a goal without a plan is just a wish.” In other words, once you’ve set a benchmark it’s time to lay out an action plan for how you’re going to decarbonize your business, increase profits, and scale sustainability. While setting an emissions reduction target is essential to the long-term success of your climate action plan, tangible actions that make measurable improvements are vital to short-term progress. What’s more, financial institutions are increasingly considering climate risk and ESG metrics in their rating systems. Getting an ESG rating can be an excellent way to learn from others, join a growing movement of businesses, and create storytelling opportunities for your brand.

3) Join coalitions: Coalitions are excellent seedbeds for collaboration between businesses, nonprofits, governments, and institutions that can foster true innovation in sustainability and move the needle on climate negotiations on a global scale. What’s more, joining coalitions is a superb way to contribute to larger social movements and cultural conversations.

In response to the Trump Administration’s decision to leave the Paris Climate Agreement, hundreds of American companies, academic institutions, and local governments have joined together to form the We Are Still In coalition. Members of the group have committed to upholding their own greenhouse gas emissions targets and representing the United States in the Paris Climate Agreement. You can register your business and join climate leaders manifesting a low carbon future using the link above.

4) Source renewable energy: Clean energy is essential to building a sustainable economy and businesses are in a unique place to scale emissions reductions by decoupling greenhouse gas pollution from financial transactions. While some critics say renewable energy is expensive and unreliable, the price of solar and wind is rapidly declining and is set to become the cheapest energy source known to man. What’s more some of the most successful investors like Warren Buffet, Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos are investing billions in clean power and brands across sectors are on their way to running solely on renewable energy.

While there are a myriad of solar companies that can install solar on your business, the Business Renewables Center is an excellent resource for companies looking to switch to green electricity and most major utility companies offer consumers and businesses the option to purchase energy from strictly renewable sources.

5) Transport sustainably: Transforming the transportation sector into a driver of sustainable progress is essential to reducing emissions worldwide. This can be a tangible way to accelerate sustainability initiatives in your businesses. There are numerous roads to low carbon transport from leasing an electric vehicle fleet to offering employees incentives for biking, walking or taking public transportation to work. This is an excellent way to not only reduce your footprint, but can also provide tax rebates and deductions as well as generate talking points for brand storytelling.

6) Source eco-packaging: Plastic pollution is a dire and growing crisis impacting our planet’s oceans, wildlife and environment. Single-use plastic packaging is responsible for the majority of plastic waste. Therefore, transitioning to sustainable forms of packaging is an important step towards reducing any business’ environmental footprint. For low low carbon plastic packaging options check out Envision Plastics and ENSO Plastics.

7) Divest from fossil fuels: It can be frustrating if you work hard to build a climate conscious business then learn that your bank is financing carbon intensive businesses. Therefore, storing your money with a socially and environmentally responsible bank is critical to scale your emissions reductions and decarbonize the entire global economy. Similarly, divesting from fossil fuel companies is an important step towards a low carbon future. For companies looking to divest from fossil fuels, New Resource Bank and Calvert Investments offer low carbon banking and financial services respectively.

Businesses play an important role in the Paris Climate Agreement and in transforming the economy to a sustainable engine of progress. While tackling your greenhouse gas emissions can seem like a daunting task, implementing these seven actionable steps is a great way to start reducing your brand’s carbon footprint, join larger cultural conversations, create relevant and purposeful branded content and help build a better world.

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CEO We First Inc, author NYT's bestseller We First, strategic corporate consultant and trainer, father, Australian, optimist.