Improving your Carbon Competitiveness


Many corporations have been inundated with demands from customers, investors, governments, environmental groups and employees to measure and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, particularly their carbon footprint. Simply put, a carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide that is emitted from an organization during its business operations.  While every industry is affected, the more vulnerable ones have the largest footprints, including: airlines, logistics, energy and manufacturing.   Though research is still in its infancy, the data suggests that a large number of consumers and resellers across every industry base their purchase decisions on a firm’s environmental positioning and impact. Furthermore, many fund managers are already factoring in environmental considerations in their investment decisions.  Responding to these imperatives, Walmart, has gone the furthest to appear environmentally-responsive by requiring its product suppliers to note on their packaging the environmental impact of its products, operations and supply chain.

There are good business reasons to know and manage your carbon footprint even if your firm does not sell to Walmart.  Firstly, you don’t want to be blindsided by government regulations (e.g., a carbon tax, Kyoto Protocols), competitive moves (e.g., revenue risk), or backlash from consumer & pressure groups (e.g., brand risk). In essence, superior risk management becomes a competitive advantage.  Secondly, reducing your carbon footprint can deliver compelling cost savings – in some cases up to 30% – as well as catalyze operating efficiencies.   Finally, your firm or product may already have a superior carbon footprint (e.g., Toyota Prius) that could be leveraged for increased market differentiation.

What approach can Companies take to become carbon competitive?

  1. Quantify your carbon footprint – Estimating an organization’s carbon footprint is basically an accounting exercise.  A variety of external consultants, standardized tools and industry-specific approaches are available.
  2. Benchmark versus your peers – Review what your competitors are doing and saying around carbon competitiveness to identify white space or gaps.  As well, explore best practices and key learnings from other industries to minimize your strategic and implementation risk.
  3. Develop a strategy based on your assessed opportunities and risks – Your strategy should mitigate your firm’s biggest risk factors as well exploit competitively-differentiating and revenue-generating opportunities. Use market, financial and environmental criteria to rank and prioritize your strategies and initiatives. 
  4. Implement and track – Carbon competitiveness is also about tweaking your product development, delivery model and supply chain to foster continuous improvement and carbon reduction tracking.
  5. Tell the appropriate story – Companies should be prepared to message their superior carbon reduction results while prudently positioning themselves in areas where they carry higher risks.
  6. Explore government assistance – There may be generous government subsidies and tax breaks available to stimulate carbon reduction efforts.

For more information on our services and work, please visit www.quantaconsulting.com

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