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💫 6 tips to help you get out of the carbon tunnel

The March Spark

This is the monthly newsletter from Bemari where we talk about how to not get lost in sustainability. This month we talk about the “dreaded” carbon tunnel and how to help you and your colleagues get out of it.

That carbon tunnel vision. Once we all get to Net Zero, it will all be sorted. Or will it?

For those not familiar with the term, carbon tunnel vision is when an organisation fixates on the carbon emission reduction and does not consider any other environmental impact metrics. It is easily done, especially as climate change has moved the corporate and political agenda (rightfully so!).

However, it is critical that we look beyond.

We invite you to consider these 6 perspectives to help you look beyond carbon impacts.

  1. Remind yourself why we are doing it in the first place - the planetary boundaries is a good starting point to remind ourselves why we need to take action. The scientists in the Stockholm Resilience Centre have done the hard work for us and mapped out the planetary boundaries within which our lives and lifestyles exist - and in the process identified that we are in danger zones across multiple of those boundaries.

    As a reminder - Green is the space we want to be in. Green is the space the world has been supported by for thousands of years - that is the valance that humanity need to have access to food, shelter, resources and generally be able to exist and thrive. Therefore, anything that is not Green, is the danger zone, and we definitely want to see less of the really dark red spaces.

     

    The key thing to note - there are other boundaries besides climate that need addressing. In fact, some of the other ones are in the a significantly greater state of overshoot - and all of them are interconnected. So getting out of the carbon tunnel is not just a good thing, it is necessary in order to address the overshoot and get back (as close as possible) to green.

  2. Use your carbon work as a springboard. If you have already mapped out your value chain, measured your carbon emissions, perhaps even developed carbon reduction plans - then you already know how much insight you can get from the process beyond just carbon data.

    What did you find out about the data management processes that you have within the organisation - does it hep you or hinder capturing and evaluation of environmental performance? What proportion of materials you sue are recycled or recyclable? What proportion of energy (or your suppliers’) comes from renewable sources and do you know what kind? What countries, locations and communities are involved in your value chain?

    Congratulations, you have now identified a lot of touch points where your impacts extend beyond carbon and help you start evaluating your role in shifting the change beyond GHG figures. You have probably worked out through this exercise how many different natural resources your business relies on and has an impact on.

  3. Water is life. Water is easier to locate within your value chain - and you have probably identified your use of water as a business (e.g. office, staff canteen, events etc) as well as for your products - do you sell food or drinks? Water is crucial. Do you sell cosmetics? Pretty hard to use any without using water before, after or during. Do you sell any manufactured products? Water is needed in any facility. You can go on …

    Everyone needs water to live, and nature needs water too. You have probably heard and read headlines about droughts, water scarcity, and water quality issues. All of this is water stress - and it is due to the use of water across industries. By reducing your water input and output impacts, you are making a significant contribution to reducing your overall nature impact.

    Corporate waste water, plastic pollution, waste water from heavy industries that a lot of our equipment, materials and products rely on - all are big stressors on ecosystems and species.

    Water is easily measured, it is visible and simpler to understand (sometimes simpler than carbon!). “Testing the water” can gain a whole new meaning in the context of getting out of the carbon tunnel.

  4. Nature has no waste. And yet people do… The very presence of waste tells you that there are opportunities for improvement. Take an example of a plastic bottle and a glass bottle. If you look at the carbon impact only, plastic bottle is likely to have a lower carbon footprint overall. Through our carbon tunnel vision plastic wins. But then this happens…

    So something is not working. Carbon footprint is not enough to make the decision, we need to also consider the wider system and the realities of how people engage with the materials, how it affects nature and what it does when it becomes waste.

    This may be a helpful reminder of why carbon tunnel vision can get us down a dark alley.

  5. How did we get here in the first place?. Carbon counting sometimes will have us believe that swaps to the lower carbon alternatives will have the problems solved. Yet they are not - the roads are still congested, people are stressed, green spaces are still far and few between.

     

    So it is not just carbon, it is something else - identifying what other factors are important in addressing the challenge can give rise to more innovative and creative solutions. Was the question framed in the right way? Are we solving the right problem? What is the role of behaviours, choices and expectations? What are we encouraged or encouraging others to do - these considerations can help you start seeing new solutions.

  6. We are all dependent on nature. Nature is out house and everything in it - the windows, furniture, walls, our clothes, entertainment etc - is made out of the resources nature has to offer. They can be renewable and non-renewable, but they all come from nature. If we do not have some of these, our roof might collapse, or we won’t have light - or worse, food.

    What resources is your business dependent on? Where do they come from? Are they at risk or scarce? Is your business helping to preserve them and restore or to deplete and damage? Looking at the tangible resources and dependencies for

    your business can help you start seeing where your business engages with biodiversity, ecosystems and other nature aspects that allow your business to exist in the first place.

Meme of the month

Tools & Resources

As part of B Corp month, we offer an open series of gamified workshops to get basics on climate and biodiversity basics. Sign up to a Climate Fresk or a Biodiversity Collage workshop to build your foundations to help you see past carbon - dates and sign up link here.

Recap of Good News this month

Bemari News

Bemari turned 8 years in March! Thank you everyone who has worked with us, supported, shared your wisdom, insight and knowledge along the way. Happy birthday to us!

Is there an advice that has been very helpful to you and you think others would find helpful too? Please share by emailing [email protected].

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