Creating change through carbon footprinting
Darran Messem, Managing Director, Carbon Trust Certification, on the value of carbon reduction for businesses.
As the world's expert in carbon footprinting, and the first company to create a carbon label for use on products, we are passionate about why companies and consumers should embrace carbon footprinting and labelling. Why? It all comes down to creating change. For the world to move itself off carbon and meet our 2050 carbon targets we need to act, and act very fast, in reducing our global emissions. That means, given that carbon dioxide is emitted in the production and consumption of all we consume, reducing the emissions in everything we manufacture, sell and buy. This clearly is not an easy task.
We created the world's first carbon label and pioneered the carbon footprinting of products, services and organisations because we passionately believe that they will make that job easier. In short these new services make the carbon impact of our day to day decisions, through the relaying of carbon information, more transparent. Information is power. As our customers regularly tell us; "what gets measured can get managed." And importantly, to create the change we so desperately need, it enables us as a society to do something we have not yet done to date. Start a series of conversations around carbon.
As a result of our early pioneering work around carbon labelling and setting new carbon standards new conversations are springing up between suppliers and manufacturers and between manufacturers and consumers all over the world. Just take a look at Twitter when one of our customers receives our Carbon Standard; see how keen they are to tell their followers.
And it's not just online. New conversations are happening around Board room tables and around kitchen tables as the footprinting of organisations and products continues to grow. Slowly and surely a new language is being created - the language of carbon. To date we have certified over 27,000 product or service carbon footprints, our customers have labelled products or services, worth some £3bn per year, and we have awarded the Carbon Trust Standard to some 650 companies.
By understanding, measuring, reducing and (importantly) communicating around carbon, companies are now beginning to see the benefits of looking at the world through a new lens. Companies realise also that consumers are becoming more sophisticated and want to understand more and more about the full life cycle impacts of the products they buy. We know also they increasingly want to act on this information. When asked whether they would buy carbon-labelled goods over non-labelled goods of identical quality, Carbon Trust research (2011) showed that 47% of people were more likely to choose those with a label. Despite the challenging economic climate, one in five people would choose carbon-labelled products over non carbon-labelled products even if they cost more.
We believe that the market for carbon footprinting and carbon labelling will not be driven by top down regulation but by companies recognising the power and benefits of these conversations in driving bottom line cost savings, new revenues and increased customer loyalty. After all if footprinting and labelling is to succeed it has to make business sense. Something I am pleased to say our 750 customers from 21 countries around the world are seeing on a daily basis.