The UN Climate Change Conference, COP25, is underway in Madrid and more than 500 companies have publicly committed to accelerate the reduction of their greenhouse gas emissions to reach a 1.5 degree trajectory leading to net zero by the year 2030 - 20 years ahead of the 2050 targets set in the Paris Agreement. Daren Howarth, founder of carbon balancing agency C-level, explains why the time for businesses to take responsibility for their carbon footprint is now:
These companies, including well-known brands like Patagonia, The Body Shop, Allbirds, The Guardian, Intrepid Travel, and many others smaller companies like C-Level, are part of the global community of Certified B Corporations, businesses that meet the highest verified standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and legal accountability. There are over 3,000 B Corps in the world, hailing from more than 70 countries and 150 industries, harnessing the power of business to work on major social and environmental challenges facing the world today.
Why B Corp?
C-level is a B Corp and we are proud to stand alongside 500 others from out network today. B Corp's core idea is simple. Re-engineer your business to operate for the benefit of all stakeholders, including the biosphere, not just shareholders. And prove this through a rigorous regular assessment process that sets the bar high for certification. This is a great fit for C-Level, stretching the possible at a time when we need to take risks, move out into new waters. We certified when B Corp was just starting in the UK, and at that point the other big benefit of this was unknown to us. It turns out B Corp is a community. A dynamic network like no other I have experienced in 25 plus years of working in business. B Corp events and B Corp initiatives are simply great to be at and be involved in.
From annual retreats to hackathons on the UN Sustainable Development Goals - right now B Corp is mobilising a new commitment to take the idea of net zero, and our interpretation of becoming carbon balanced with nature and communities, to a new level. On Wednesday, 500+ B Corps from around the world stood together at the UN Climate Conference, COP 25 to do something meaningful - commit to net zero (being fully carbon balanced) by 2030.
Business Model Mutation
B Corp contains potent seeds of change. When we certified, the final stage was a requirement to change the very DNA of our business - the final step in C-Level Certification is to change legal documents, articles of association to make it a legal requirement for business to operate for the biosphere…this is powerful stuff. It aligns with the indigenous wisdom of people we work with, wisdom that informs decisions in the light of impact on future life, not just short-term accumulation. Many in the the B Corp network also get the idea of ‘power with’ rather than ‘power over’. Radical collaboration rather than the tired old mantra of getting ahead of the competition.
It’s easy for a small business like C-Level to make the net zero carbon balanced commitment. But in my view, it’s entirely possible for thousands and thousands of businesses to do this RIGHT NOW. On Wednesday this group of 500+ B Corps simply started the net zero ball rolling. When you look at driving down your carbon emissions, carbon reduction across all your impact areas and into your value chain, or carbon compensation (offsetting) through the kind of natural climate solutions that are at the core of C-Level’s projects - from what we can see this can be done for a great many businesses by spending under 1% of turnover.
Fully carbon balanced or netzero for a fraction of the total cash coming into the business. So what is to stop us? Nothing if its built into the DNA of your business… I look forward to working together with a great many more businesses to help them make this kind of commitment in 2020.