running a green office

carbon introduction

This section of the Duport website aims to give readers an unbiased introduction to the issues surrounding carbon and how they will affect businesses. What are carbon emissions? What is offsetting? What are the business benefits of offsetting and how has Duport calculated its own emissions? Equally important, what are we doing about them?

Companies can calculate their carbon footprint and individuals can work out how much carbon is generated on flights, whether it is a short European hop or a transatlantic crossing. In addition there is a list of ‘carbon jargon’ which aims to demystify the subject and explain the terms and acronyms as simply as possible. There are articles on new technology and carbon capture, plus information on some of the major carbon offset providers plus features on the UK position and its proposed “carbon budget”.

Duport also looks at the system of personal carbon allowances which the government is seriously considering in a bid to reduce emissions. Could personal carbon trading allowances become a reality for everyone in the next five years and if so would the next step be a business carbon allowance for all companies? Would they be voluntary or compulsory?

We all know what major retailers are doing because they spend millions of pounds on sophisticated public relations campaigns to shout out their green credentials. Tesco plans to slash carbon emissions from its stores, distribution centres and supply chain and has committed to cut carbon dioxide by 50% by 2020. It also plans a carbon footprint labelling system for all products. M&S has unveiled a five year initiative to become carbon neutral - emissions will be reduced by 80% by 2012 the remainder will be offset. Many other big companies are introducing carbon reducing policies.

But small businesses can also reap the rewards of being carbon aware. There are business openings and opportunities for those who act speedily. Furthermore there will no doubt be endless new regulations and carbon reduction policies over the next few years so those businesses that act now will be far better placed to cope.

Already the Carbon Trust has announced it wants to see a national carbon labelling standard and has launched a scheme to educate consumers about the overall carbon footprint of products. First off the block with a carbon label is Walkers best selling cheese and onion crisps, which show each pack as emitted 75 grams of carbon. Boots, and Innocent (the drinks company) will also test the scheme and others have expressed support.

Measuring carbon footprints on products is notoriously difficult due to the complexity of working out the carbon emissions through the products’ life cycle. But it is the future. Interestingly ‘carbon neutral’ was the Oxford American Dictionary word of the year in 2006 a phrase, it says is on the “cusp of ubiquity”. Businesses both large and small simply cannot afford to ignore the carbon issue and those who take action soonest will gain the biggest rewards.

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