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5 Ways Corporations Can Strive To Be Climate Neutral

5 Ways Corporations Can Strive To Be Climate Neutral


At COP27, the latest United Nations climate change conference held in November, 2022, one of the key questions asked was, “Who holds responsibility for the loss and damage payments of climate change?” While many people present argued that the onus was on countries, others made the case for taxing corporations responsible for the bulk of emissions within emission-heavy countries.

For example, a recent Climate Neutral analysis of over 150 certified companies found that 81 percent of American companies’ emissions came from Taiwan and China, where the manufacturing is done. In order to reduce their carbon footprint, U.S.-based companies can switch manufacturing to facilities that produce far lower emissions.

Climate Neutral is a nonprofit that provides brands with certification to demonstrate clearly to consumers their commitment to reducing their environmental impact. The certification process entails measuring their carbon footprint, purchasing verified offsets, and funneling spending into board-reviewed carbon removal and climate solutions like energy efficiency, forestry, and transportation projects. At present, Climate Neutral works with over 300 brands across a variety of sectors, from apparel company Allbirds to gear retailer REI to beverage brand Bud Light NEXT.

Reformation is a sustainable clothing company founded in 2009. “With more companies setting climate goals and making green claims, it’s more important than ever to align with third-party verified standards,” says Chief Sustainability Officer and VP Operations Kathleen Talbot. “Climate Neutral was the first organization to set a clear, high standard and advocate for best practices in the otherwise pretty murky world of carbon accounting and offsetting.”

“We’re very excited to partner with Climate Neutral to do our part in helping reduce our environmental impact,” says hair care company Rizos Curls founder and CEO Julissa Prado. “Climate Neutral is a trusted partner that helps guide us as we grow in an environmentally mindful way.”

Nécessaire is a personal care company founded with an intention to make a positive environmental impact. It is a certified B Corp, a 1% For The Planet Member, a How2Recycle partner and an inaugural member of Climate Neutral. “The Climate Neutral team is remarkable,” says CEO and cofounder Randi Christiansen. “I see them as part of our brand – a true strategic business partner that helps us tackle our carbon footprint.”

Climate Neutral CEO Austin Whitman offers these five ways that corporations can reduce their harm to the planet:

1. Dedicate a portion of your annual budget to making reductions in harm to the planet. This should be real money and this budget should be non-negotiable and non-fungible.

2. Put some of that money to creating lobbying influence to support legislation that increases incentives for climate and environmental protection.

3. Put some of that money into an internal fund that is used exclusively for supply chain environmental improvements – R&D, material choices, logistics/operations.

4. Put some of that money into purchasing verified carbon removal and avoidance credits like investing in third party projects that slow the effects of climate change.

5. Make sure to include environment and climate in employee engagement events.

Whitman says he was inspired to found an environmental nonprofit by his parents. As a child, his family would go out every weekend for a walk. Every family vacation was oriented around bird watching. “I mean that,” he says. “We didn’t go anywhere unless there were wild birds involved.”

In 1990, he heard Al Gore talk about climate change. Whitman decide then and there that any company he worked for had to have a purpose tied to environmental restoration. Now, at Climate Neutral, he gets to work with people who share his passion. “We are motivated by a sense of purpose that makes us feel like success is the only option,” he says.

Whitman does find it challenging to access growth capital. In addition to operating with limited resources, his team has a constant sense that “our work is tied to the much larger game of chance that humanity is playing with the future of the earth.” Fortunately, the tide is changing. More and more companies are devoting resources to mitigating harmful environmental impacts – and are eager to secure Climate Neutral certification.

“Don’t worry about landing a stable job – that will happen,” says Whitman to young people looking to make positive impact in their careers. “Talk to lots of people, join professional communities, seek out mentors. Take risks. Push yourself. Expect to change directions more than once. Also, remember that purpose itself isn’t an occupation — companies need creative thinkers, analysts, marketers, scientists, managers, and so on. It’s just as important to think about what kind of shoes you want to fill in a company as it is about the purpose of filling them.”


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