Since the Industrial Revolution 200 years ago, mankind has become increasingly dependant on business and working practices with little regard for the environment. For all the ills it has caused, the Covid-19 pandemic has also served as a wake-up call for businesses across the globe to address this matter. Scientists predict a drop of energy-related CO2 emissions between 4% and 7% as a direct result of the pandemic-induced corporate stall. These events enable managers to re-consider company practices and adopt measures to reduce their firms’ carbon footprint.
Data from the world Resources Institute show that the prime producers of greenhouse gases include buildings (17% of total global emissions), and road transport (12% of total). We at Cobalt HR have in the past explored the changing nature of the workplace (view full details in our newsletter). In this regard, the shift towards more flexible employee agendas and re-evaluation of the costs and returns of company offices can also serve to reduce companies’ greenhouse emissions.
Large corporations are taking notice. According to the Climate Policy Initiative, climate-related investing has grown by 70% to $579bn between 2013 and 2018. Yet more is needed. Decarbonising the economy is an enormous task and will be hugely disruptive. However, failing to do so will result in harsher climate and even greater risks for companies. At first glance, these issues seem unapplicable to SMEs (at least those that do not own oil rigs). Yet, inspiring change among employees of all company sizes can greatly support the global cause of tackling climate change.
As a start, companies can include the implementation of environmentally friendly practices in their annual/biannual risk assessments. Reducing paper usage, digitising office tools, promoting homeworking – all of these can be included in a company’s employee handbooks, process manuals, and risk assessment documents. Doing this might very well tilt the climate odds in our favour.
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