Carbon Negative has a big impact on BIMA members

01 Dec 2020

Earlier this year, twenty BIMA businesses joined the first of our Carbon Negative cohorts. They discovered that together they could offset thousands of tons of carbon and reduce emissions by thousands more.

How much carbon does your company produce? And, assuming it’s a scarily high number, how could you reduce it? That was the challenge set by BIMA’s Sustainability Council, who earlier this year invited applications from our members to join their first BIMA cohort and explore how they could move closer to  becoming carbon negative companies.

How much carbon do we produce?

Our first cohort featured twenty  BIMA member companies with a total combined workforce of 1,007. Each company modelled its 2019 footprint to establish a ‘base’ level of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent emissions). Then those companies worked out their 2020 footprint between 1 January and 30 September to establish current emissions.

The resulting dashboard shows the totals and how much CO2e levels have reduced in 2020 (largely due to the impact of covid-19 of course) and how much would be offset if these companies agreed to offset at their 2019 base level emissions (to become carbon negative). The results are significant.

The reductions

As this deck shows, our cohort has generated the equivalent of more than 8 million air miles’ worth of carbon in 2020. That’s 2,439 tonnes of carbon added to the environment. But in 2019 the emissions would have been 1819 tonnes higher showing that reductions from covid-19 were the equivalent of reducing over 6 million air miles of emissions.

Making carbon-negative a reality

These are very real reductions. However, the course is also designed to show businesses what the costs would be to offset at their higher 2019 “base” level emissions to become carbon negative. The total cost across all 11 companies for this 4025 tonnes would have only under £25,000(or under £25 per person per year). . The course also helps people understand where the quick wins are to begin to reduce their footprint. In many instances, those steps are low or no-cost and could range from switching to energy suppliers who only offer energy from renewable sources, installing electric vehicle charge (EV) points, or switching to sustainable suppliers (or encouraging existing suppliers to be more sustainable).

To build on the reductions, businesses need to incentivise their people. There are lots of ways to do that and local authorities may offer grants to help. These could range from cycle to work schemes to EV leasing to tax-free carbon offsetting schemes.

The pandemic effect

There’s no escaping the fact that the changes to the way we work this year have contributed significantly to these results. But if anything, the past year has shown just what is possible from a carbon reduction perspective. The challenge for business is to cut carbon every year, not just in the years when we’re all confined to our homes.

Sustainability or growth?

We’ve heard plenty recently about the challenge sustainability initiatives face in an environment where survival has become the name of the game. In reality, sustainability can support business survival because by looking at your carbon footprint can make savings. But perhaps more importantly there are huge commercial benefits in terms of positive sentiment from staff as well as the ability to report this data to clients to unlock new conversations and opportunities.

So it’s hugely important that businesses aren’t suckered into the narrative that says sustainability has to take a back seat because there are ‘more important’ things to focus on right now. Operating sustainably can help deliver growth.

Join the next cohort

As our first cohort continues its journey to carbon negative, we’re now looking for members to take part in cohort 2. That starts in February, and we’d love you to be part of it. Find out more and register for the next or future cohorts here.

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