Almost all organisations emit carbon dioxide as the result of using a source of energy derived from the burning of fossil fuels — to travel, operate equipment or heat and light premises. There has been international debate, however, on whether carbon dioxide emissions really are resulting in major changes to global weather, including unusual storms and fluctuating temperature patterns.
The UK Government has taken a firm stance, however, and stated its commitment to addressing the problem of carbon dioxide emissions and tackling the consequences of climate change.
In November 2007, the Climate Change Bill was introduced in the UK Parliament and is programmed to come into force later in 2008.
When enacted, the Bill will introduce a target for the UK to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by at least 60 per cent by the year 2050.
An independent Committee on climate change will be established to advise the UK Government and report to Parliament on progress in achieving the target, taking account of a range of influencing factors.
The Bill provides for the UK Government to carry out regular risk assessments of the impact of climate change and to operate a programme for dealing with the risks identified. It also contains powers for the UK Government to require public bodies and statutory undertakers — such as electricity companies — to draw up plans to deal with the impact of climate change.
It would appear highly likely therefore that public bodies and large organisations will be playing a significant part in leading the community, including business organisations everywhere, to become engaged in responding effectively to the problems caused by carbon dioxide emissions and their consequent impact on the environment.
Whether or not anyone agrees with the view that carbon dioxide is contributing to climate change or harming the environment, most people would probably agree that it can only be of benefit to businesses to manage energy production and consumption more efficiently.
How Can Businesses Respond to the Call to Reduce Carbon Dioxide Emissions?
There are many ways in which organisations can contribute to a programme of energy management and efficiency and carbon dioxide reduction. The more obvious ways include an audit of an organisation’s premises and assets to check for improvements — sometimes at low cost or with identifiable savings – that can reduce energy consumption and make better use of energy consumed. These include improved insulation, an upgrade of vehicles or equipment, encouraging alternative means of travel, avoiding unnecessary journeys and new ways of working, such as allowing more staff to work from home.
What is Carbon Offsetting?
Methods have been established to calculate the amount of ‘greenhouse gas’ produced by an organisation’s carbon emissions each year. The result is commonly referred to as an organisation’s ‘carbon footprint’.
In addition to managing energy consumption more efficiently, organisations can take part in schemes that have been created to enable businesses and individuals to reduce the impact of their carbon footprints by contributing a financial sum to recognised international projects to ‘offset’ the amount of carbon produced.
The schemes include projects aimed at absorbing carbon dioxide or creating energy from renewable sources involving forestry and the planting of new trees; the use of waste carbon dioxide to produce new products; and creating energy through renewable methods that do not include the burning of fossils, such as wind or solar panels.
Carbon Dioxide Emissions and the Process of Going Carbon Neutral
Andrew Herbert, Chairman of Touchstone Renard — a UK Industry Leader and Acknowledged Expert in Environmental and Energy Management — Evaluates the Impact of Carbon Emissions and the Process of Going Carbon Neutral.
As the past Managing Director of the London based group, Radio Taxis, Andrew Herbert led the organisation to become the first taxi business in the UK to go carbon neutral.
Radio Taxis’ high level of environmental awareness and responsibility inspired and won the admiration of London and the world, resulting in prestigious awards, new opportunities and substantially increased annual revenues.
In 2006, in his role as past Managing Director of Radio Taxis, Andrew Herbert, chairman of Touchstone Renard, successfully managed a ground-breaking project for the organisation, aimed at introducing energy efficiencies, offsetting carbon emissions and becoming carbon neutral.
Operating from several offices around the UK capital, with over 3000 drivers and heavy reliance on the use of vehicles to provide their service, Radio Taxis appreciated the extent to which their carbon emissions were impacting on the environment and sought to address the situation.
Under Andrew Herbert’s leadership, Radio Taxis introduced an energy efficiency programme to reduce fuel consumption and famously embarked on a scheme to offset their carbon emissions. They achieved the latter by investing in five international projects, including forestry and the generation of renewable energy by the use of solar panels.
The effect was much celebrated, catching the imagination of people in London and worldwide. Radio Taxis moved rapidly ahead of their London competitors, inspiring continuing confidence and loyalty amongst their existing customers and winning exciting new business opportunities elsewhere. The cost of offsetting was considerably outweighed by increased annual revenues.
Radio Taxis have stated that, in the long term, they would like to use alternative fuels to reduce the impact of their business operations on the environment even further.
CNN, The BBC, and Other National Media Bodies Report on the Radio Taxis Story
The Radio Taxis story has sparked avid interest, including:
- Andrew Herbert and Radio Taxis received considerable media coverage.
- Andrew Herbert appeared in the UK national press and also on national and international television networks, including CNN and the BBC.
- In May 2008, Andrew Herbert presented to the IMCN conference of international delegates, convened in London by Touchstone Renard.
- The Merits of Being Low CarbonThe Merits of Being Low Carbon from Finance & Management 163, February 2009; article by The Institute of Chartered Accountants, England and Wales.
Contact Andrew Herbert
Appointed as Chairman of Touchstone Renard in autumn 2003, Andrew Herbert has had considerable business and consultancy experience. Andrew has carried out assignments as Senior Consultant, Professional Interim Manager and Director for a number of large national and international clients.
With a professional background as a Chartered Accountant, Andrew often takes a hands-on approach to his work, helping to plan strategy and implement change programmes at board level.
Having worked in both executive and non-executive roles, his focus has always been on improving profitability and developing long-term growth plans for businesses.
If you would like to have a discussion about environmental or energy management or the potential benefits to your business of going carbon neutral, please contact us.