That’s exactly how we feel at the moment. Do you know the feeling we are talking about?
A few weeks ago, we (Trainconsulting GmbH and all its consultants and employees) took our place at the starting line of the United Nations race2zero. With the ambitious goal of operating in accordance with the Paris Climate Agreement, i.e., reducing net emissions by 50 per cent until 2030 and to zero by 2050. Here we will share our experiences on this racetrack with you on a regular basis (haha).
At this point, you may be asking yourself:
Why do it all yourself? Other companies hire (specialist) consultants for those kinds of tasks.
We want to master this process with as little help from others as possible. And not (only) because we, as a consulting firm, are perhaps resistant to consultancy, but because we want to experience the process and learn from it. We want to see what many of our clients are currently confronted with step by step – and what it means for a company to look at its own sustainability in figures and improve it.
We are such a small company that these steps are not (yet) obligatory for us – so formally speaking, this race is a symbolic act. For us, however, it is more: The implementation of our deep belief in the need for change in the world in terms of CO2 emissions, whether it is required by law or not.
So, our first steps: We have chosen the “Science-based Targets Initiative / SBTi” as our partner organisation. When registering, we were pleased about the “fast track” for small and medium-sized companies (upper limit 500 employees) – and we realised: We really are a very small company according to their standards.
We dug through many drop-down menus and finally found ourselves looking at two squares in which we were asked to fill in a number: Our Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions. Spoiler: This is where it got complicated.
Scope 1 – direct emissions
Scope 1 emissions are emissions from sources that are controlled by your company or for which it is directly responsible. These include emissions from energy sources at your location, such as gas and fuels, coolants, and emissions from to the use of boilers and furnaces for which your company is responsible for or in control of.
Scope 2 – indirekte Emissionen aus eingekaufter Energie
Scope 2 emissions are indirect greenhouse gas emissions from purchased energy, such as electricity, steam, district heating or cooling, that is generated outside your own system boundaries but consumed by your company. For example, electricity purchased from a utility company is generated outside, so the resulting emissions are considered indirect emissions.
According to the GHG Protocol, Scope 2 emissions represent one of the largest sources of total global greenhouse gas emissions. Accordingly, measuring and calculating Scope 2 emissions offers a significant opportunity to reduce emissions. But which emissions fall into this scope?
Source: https://www.climatepartner.com/en/climate-action-insights/reducing-scope-emissions last visited 13th of April 2023
So how do we calculate our own CO2 balance, also known as our carbon footprint? Or, to stay on track: How do we find out where exactly we start running?
Our research led us to a comparison portal for online CO2 calculators for companies (the amount was overwhelming). Out of all the options the »Ecocockpit – CO2 Bilanzierung für Unternehmen« seemed to be the most suitable for us.
For the calculation we had to choose a year for reference – not so easy to find a representative business year in the turmoil of the pandemic years. We decided on 2022 and fished the accounting folders off the shelf. Electricity bill, gas bill, purchase of materials – the simple things first.
We had the laugh of the year when the software asked us for the amount of green, red and black beans our company consumes per year. (“The amount is pretty manageable.”) And the other material purchases and waste flows are mainly things like coffee and flipchart paper and don’t add up to much in terms of quantity. It soon became clear: Those things are not our main problem.
It’s mobility. Our consultants are on the road a lot, most of our workshops and appointments take place either on-site at the client’s premises or off-site in seminar hotels. (We didn’t forget about online appointments and their electricity consumption, but we’ll look into that another time, one step at a time).
We started digging deeper and wanted to know more about the impact of our mobility: Each consultant checked the 2022 calendar for their kilometres driven/flown and we unpacked our basic math skills. The result: we travelled the most kilometres by public transport, followed by car and plane. So, the ranking was already pretty good. But still, it was a lot of kilometres altogether.
This is where we have a lot of work to do. And not only for ourselves – the leverage effect is even greater: for our workshops and large group events, many people have to travel, sometimes very far distances. The total travel balance of a workshop is therefore interesting because only a small amount of it is accounted for by the travel of the consultants, meaning only a small percentage of it is shown in our carbon footprint. The question of how we can make our workshops more sustainable as a whole, and thereby also reduce our kilometres travelled, will keep us busy on the next stages of our journey.
We are still motivated and feel fresh, the first metres are behind us. The look into the mobility mirror is done and we can continue to work with our figures. Stay tuned!