Reducing greenhouse gas emissions on a personal and organisational scale is an important step towards decarbonisation.
Furthermore, applying a climate lens to your operations can inspire those around you to do the same.
Whether you are part of a large, established foundation or an individual grantmaking from home, there are important steps you can take from switching to renewable energy to ensuring your bank doesn’t invest in pollution.
Develop a plan
Developing a plan to consider climate change across your organisation is an important step.
Whether you develop a stand-alone climate plan or incorporate these considerations into your existing business plans and strategies will depend on your organisation. There’s no one correct way to do it.
Setting clear specific goals, with a monitoring and evaluation plan — however simple — and reporting the outcomes back to your stakeholders, be they family members or a Board of Directors or Trustees is a great practice to keep you on track. If you have staff, consider how you can incentivise them to change their behaviours.
Work your way through the side menu that covers some elements of your operations you may like to consider, starting with establishing a baseline.
Establish a baseline
Larger organisations often climate-proof their operations by establishing a clear baseline first. This will help you to determine which parts of your operations have the greatest impact on climate change and where you may like to focus your efforts.
There are many publicly available tools to measure the carbon footprint of your organisation. For example:
For larger organisations, you may wish to hire a sustainability consultant to measure and assess your operations and develop a climate strategy that is specific to your needs.
Travel and transport
Transport is Australia’s second-largest single source of domestic emissions, half of which is due to private cars and other personal road transport. You can significantly reduce your carbon footprint by changing the way you travel. For example:
- Use public transport and active transport (walking and cycling) instead of driving. If you employ staff, encourage them to do the same.
- Hold online meetings; they reduce the need for the daily commute, long rural drives and flights (the latter being one of the most energy-intensive forms of travel).
- Upgrade to an electric vehicle — electric cars can reduce emissions by up to 77 per cent per kilometre.
- When travel is unavoidable, purchasing high quality carbon offsets to compensate for the emissions generated from flights and other transport.
Renewable energy in our electricity network has almost tripled in Australia in the last decade. Here are some steps you can take to start this transition for your own operations:
- Complete an energy assessment to get a clear picture on how you can save energy in your home and workplace. Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme is a good place to start.
- Switch to a clean electricity provider. The Greenpeace Green Electricity Guide makes it simple.
- Electrify your household and workplace. Swap gas-powered appliances such as stovetops, hot water systems and heaters for electric alternatives powered by renewable energy.
- If you own the building you work from, you may be able to install solar on your roof. You can find an approved solar retailer through the Clean Energy Council. Australian start-up Brighte can also help finance renewable energy upgrades with zero per cent interest loans.
- Be mindful of how much air-conditioning, heating and lighting you use. Insulate your home and office; use window blinds and light roof tile colours to deflect heat in summer.
- Replace old appliances with energy-efficient alternatives using the 5-star Energy Rating.
- Swap halogen light bulbs for LED lights, which use up to 80 per cent less energy.
Banking, finance and superannuation
Transition your banking and superannuation to institutions that do not invest in fossil fuels.
Reducing, reusing and recycling waste reduces landfill while embedding a “circular economy” approach to how you work. Planet Ark has comprehensive resources for businesses and individuals on how to do this, for example:
- Sign up for free workplace recycling programs:
— mobile phones — register for MobileMuster;
— printer cartridges — Cartridges 4 Planet Ark collection box;
— e-waste like TVs and computers — call TechCollect on 1300 229 837.
- Consider hiring an environmental and waste auditor or consultant to create waste management systems specific to your organisation: — See Business Recycling to find an auditor or consultant in your area.
- Register your interest in the Australian Circular Economy Hub to learn about what more you can do.
The goods and services you buy as a funder or organisation can help drive demand for low-carbon options. Larger organisations may like to start by:
- educating in-house procurement officers on how to source environmental products and services;
- embedding environmental sustainability in all invitations for tender;
- booking venues for meetings and events that are energy efficient, sustainably designed and have a social impact (e.g., providing employment opportunities for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds);
- ordering vegetarian catering and certified organic, sustainably produced meat and/or fish if required;
- sourcing recycled, carbon-neutral office supplies such as paper and notebooks.
Use this checklist to take practical steps to decarbonise your operations.
- Make a commitment to reduce your organisation’s carbon emissions.
- Establish a baseline of your emissions.
- Reduce emissions from travels and transport.
- Reduce your building emissions:
- 🮋 switch to renewable electricity;
- 🮋 upgrade gas appliances to energy
- efficient electric ones;
- 🮋 upgrade to LED lighting;
- 🮋 set air-conditioning and heating temperatures to maximise efficiency.
- Switch to a climate-friendly bank.
- Switch to climate-friendly superannuation.
- Ensure waste recycling practices reduce how much is going to landfill.
- Consider sustainability at event venues and catering.
- Source recycled, carbon-neutral office supplies.