1. Understand emissions
Understanding your organisation’s emissions is an important first step and is often referred to as ‘Carbon Footprinting’. Carbon footprints are a measure of the impact of human activities on the environment in terms of the amount of greenhouse gases produced, typically measured in units of CO2 or Carbon. A company’s carbon footprint usually describes the total amount of CO2 or other greenhouse gases that the company emits through its operations – this can include just on-site processes or it can examine wider processes such as staff travel and product lifecycle. See the EPA website for ways of calculating your carbon footprint.
Carbon footprinting allows a business or organisation to identify which of their activities are having an impact on CO2 emissions and of these which are most significant.
2. Define Purpose
Once you understand what your emissions are, the next step is to define the purpose of your carbon management programme. What do you want to do and what are your motivating factors? The purpose of your programme will impact on many aspects such as scope, cost, time, method, boundaries, complexity, data requirements, etc. If this is a voluntary exercise to generate interest among stakeholders the effort required will be small. This effort increases considerably where regulatory requirements and financial implications are involved.
3. Identify Opportunities
This stage is about identifying realistic opportunities that can achieve actual reduction in your greenhouse gas emissions. The basis for these opportunities will come from having an understanding of your emissions.
4. Develop Action Programme
An action programme should clearly set out what actions need to be taken to reduce your emissions and your impact on climate change. This plan will come from the opportunities that you will have identified in the third step. However, these need to be prioritised against many criteria, e.g. emission reduction potential, budget, corporate objectives, etc. Any plan that is put in place must include objectives, actions, targets, budget and expected outcomes. The key to this plan working is to ensure its implementation.
5. Monitor Progress
This step is extremely important as it examines whether your plan is really achieving carbon emission reduction and achieving the targets that you have set.
Carbon Management is not designed to replace processes that are currently in place to manage aspects such as energy, water, etc. Rather, monitoring will highlight how these aspects are contributing to CO2 emissions and how to address them, by linking with current programmes and filling any gaps necessary.
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