At Levin Sources, we’ve been monitoring our carbon footprint since 2017, so we know it can be daunting, especially when you’re not sure how and where to start. Earlier this year, as we became the first SME and first minerals sector business to commit to the Gucci CEO carbon-neutral challenge, some of you asked us how we do it.
In this blog we share tips and recommendations learnt from the past three years monitoring our carbon footprint, and also from our wider environmental work.
Where to start?
We are currently following the guidelines of the Corporate Greenhouse Gas Protocol and Defra. The Corporate Greenhouse Gas Protocol has free training available from their website, which is very useful if you want to learn more about the protocol. In a nutshell, the most important things that you need to do are:
- Identify the boundaries (emission scopes and activities that you want to cover (i.e. house emissions, meals, travels, etc.)
- Produce an inventory and choose a base year
- Calculate emissions – there are many methods to calculate emissions. We recommend you use these two emissions factors:
- IPCC default emissions factors
- Country specific factors (we use those for the UK, see here; other countries might have their own)
Online carbon calculators do all the above for you directly. They are handy, but they are also very broad and not as accurate as working through the process yourself.
By following the steps above, you have more control over the activities that you want to include in your calculation and obtain more accurate results. The downside is that this process is more time consuming.
It is important to understand that analysing your carbon footprint is only the first step towards action. The bulk of the work is in the decisions you take and implement to reduce your carbon footprint based on this knowledge. To do this, we followed a three-step process:
- First and foremost, we set emissions reduction targets aligned with the Paris Agreement.
- Then we drafted our environmental policy.
- Finally, we implemented it.
How to develop your environmental policy
Your environmental policy should aim to minimise the environmental impact in your day-to-day business. If you are looking to reduce the impact within your company, it is very important you get buy in from all employees. You can do this through consultation and holding regular meetings as you draft the policy, to include staff feedback and ensure that all of the suggestions are practical and implementable.
We recommend the environmental policy includes:
- A mission statement and policy aim(s)
- Targets to improve the business’ environmental performance and reduce its environmental impacts by activity line
- Monitoring, disclosure, commitments and continuous improvement measures
- Roles and responsibilities within the organisation
To ensure the policy’s success, we recommend appointing an environmental or climate change champion to facilitate its drafting and liaise with staff. Our climate change champion is Blanca Racionero-Gomez.
And what about offsets?
Offset schemes should not be used as a way to assuage one’s guilt and continue polluting. Offsets are at the very end of the mitigation hierarchy, and they should be relied on only as a last resort. But in practice, figuring out your carbon account and offsetting it is a fairly quick process that you can take action on immediately, and then once your first offsets are taken care of you can address how you intend to avoid and minimise your emissions too. If you want to offset your emissions, we recommend selecting best-in-class carbon offset schemes that ensure long term maintenance of the scheme, otherwise the carbon taken up is likely to be released again into the environment over time.
You may also want to think about your broader corporate values and positioning, and choose a scheme that means something to you and/or your customers. We have been researching offset schemes that are relevant to the mining and minerals industry, watch this space for more information on this soon. In the meantime, here are some of our favourites:
- Gold Standard projects
- Association for Coastal Ecosystem Services projects
- Plan Vivo certified projects
- World Land Trust projects
- Trees for Life
- Wildlife Trust Great Fen project
- Citizen Zoo’s mangrove project
Carbon accounting in practice in the minerals sector
In addition to our own environmental policy, you can also read the carbon accounting reporting we drafted for International Women in Mining (IWiM).
Coal mining and the production of non-metallic minerals, iron, steel and non-ferrous metals contributes 18% of the world’s emissions while the mining sector causes 7% of global deforestation. The global gold industry alone contributed an estimated 126 million tonnes of CO2eq in 2018. It is our ambition that minerals companies and those servicing them get ahead in managing their carbon footprints.
Contact us today to get support to monitor and reduce your own carbon footprint.