It is the responsibility of the executive management team to look after the long term interests of an organisation in a world of constant flux. In our emerging low carbon economy, this involves a full assessment and understanding of the risks and opportunities that the business faces. This is why I believe executive sponsorship for greenhouse gas measurement, reporting and reduction are essential for the long term health of an organisation. What this also does is provide a platform from which innovation and product leadership can flourish.
Executive sponsorship secures investment in personnel and financial resources to establish the impact of an operation and its products and services. But more importantly, with committed executive sponsorship, the results thereof are taken seriously and used wisely. However, by just using the measurement process to demonstrate participation with no follow up, your business will miss the much bigger opportunities that can be derived from these projects. With a real commitment, the true value lies in driving efficiencies and stimulating innovation.
Why does GHG reduction drive innovation?
GHG emissions arise from material usage, much of which is waste. By committing to reducing emissions we in turn drive efficiencies to eliminate this waste; be it from travel, electricity or input materials. In turn, efficiencies drive financial savings and a healthier balance sheet.
Much of the wasted materials are also associated with a way of working; an example of this would be a culture of face-to-face working. The reduction of emissions from behaviour often requires a corporate cultural shift. Few would argue that corporate culture is filtered top down. Hence, the need once again for executive commitment.
The value of stimulating innovation comes in where downstream scope 3 emissions are measured. Downstream emissions are the emissions associated with the distribution, use and disposal of your product. A simple example would be where a company manufactures a widget. This widget uses electricity to operate. The electricity associated with that usage becomes your scope 3 emission by association as the manufacturer. By committing to look at and reduce downstream emissions, your company is forced to innovate and create an energy efficient product. As consumers will opt for a more energy efficient product over one that is not; this innovation gives your organisation a competitive advantage.
With the right, committed executive sponsorship, the impacts and effects of a GHG management program can have far reaching benefits and value to an organisation. This should be seen as a strategic imperative to both remain competitive and drive innovations that are essential in delivering a sustainable economy.