As an ordinary consumer, having to think about the ethical implications of purchasing one product over another can be overwhelming. Maybe one is made from recycled plastic but delivered via transportation that generates enormous CO2 emissions? And another is made with organic materials, by people who have been paid fairly, but put together in a factory powered solely by fossil fuels?
Climate Neutral aims to break through this, at least in terms of emissions, via its Climate Neutral Accreditation.
The project—still in early phases, but preparing to scale up—would work in the same way as a ‘FairTrade’ or ‘GMO-free’ label. It would be an internationally recognised symbol, allowing a consumer to trust that the company in question had measured, reduced and offset their entire carbon footprint.
This would be across “every part of a company’s supply chain,” including mining, power generation, manufacturing, office usage, travel and shipping.
Climate Neutral stresses that while solutions to climate change aren’t free, they’re also not that expensive. For instance, the organisation claims it costs just $0.12 to make a pair of running shoes carbon neutral or $0.09 for a performance jacket. Even for an electric vehicle, often sold for around $30,000, the price would be just $81.
Climate Neutral and upwards
The company was launched by two brands, BioLite and PeakDesign. Peter Dering, CEO of PeakDesign, tells Fast Company that the journey began after seeing the extent of PeakDesign’s environmental impact on a visit to a manufacturing partner in Vietnam five years ago. He vowed to tackle his company’s carbon emissions and revolutionise corporate responsibility by applying “a long-overdue price to carbon.”
Carbon Neutral has already reached 50 brands but wants to increase the number into the 1000s by the end of 2020. Current signatories alongside BioLite and PeakDesign include Boyish Jeans, Avocado and KindHumans.
“By joining Certified Climate Neutral, businesses can choose to pay for all of their carbon emissions and accelerate the implementation of low-carbon technologies,” the company writes. “Becoming Climate Neutral Certified is so affordable, immediate, and measurably impactful that it should be the minimum standard for what it means to be a sustainable business.”
Climate Neutral measures emissions through a metric tonne of CO2, which allows all types of greenhouse gases to be quantified. Through its services, it helps a business to measure its carbon output, reduce emissions through continuous effort and offset emissions that can’t be reduced in the short term.
To achieve the label, businesses must commit to two new reduction efforts every year, with priorities decided in partnership with Climate Neutral. They also say they’re creating tools to make the measurement process as easy and standardised as possible.
Their motto is: “reduce what you can, offset the rest.” Businesses that sign up are steered towards reforestation and green energy offsets that have been audited and verified according to third parties, including the American Carbon Registry and the Climate Action Reserve. However, companies cannot simply pay to offset their carbon and claim the badge.
“Consumer brands today offer many credentials to a prospective buyer, but none of them directly addresses the brand’s climate impact,” said Austin Whitman, CEO of Climate Neutral, in a statement. “Even worse, most brands don’t know how much they contribute to climate change. Climate Neutral exists to address both of these gaps so that we can make headway in the climate crisis.”
“We believe in setting a new minimum standard of corporate responsibility for all companies: achieving a net-zero carbon footprint,” Climate Neutral says.
The company has already raised $106,000 from a $100,000 goal on an ongoing Kickstarter campaign.