Disclosure of your climate footprint – the next frontier in corporate climate policy

This article is sponsored by Pure Strategies.

With the impacts of climate change looming over us, we’ve seen a flurry of activity from activists and big brands, including Patagonia and Seventh Generation, to fine-tune the standards, limits and requirements of climate leadership for companies. Their heightened surveillance extends beyond direct operations and supply chains and targets the broader systems that perpetuate the climate crisis.

In 2020, the production and use of fossil fuels contributed 73% of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the United States, prompting climate activists to demand a massive shift away from fossil fuels . This movement has spurred initiatives such as the Fossil Free Banking Alliance, whose members pledge not to fund fossil fuel companies, and a coalition of advertising agencies to forego working with the industry.

It has also inspired leading companies to redefine the boundaries of their own climate impacts. For example, Patagonia has announced that it is exploring banking with companies whose climate positions align with theirs. And just this week, Seventh Generation unveiled a new approach to measuring, disclosing and acting on the climate performance of key business relationships in banking, insurance, marketing, creative services, philanthropy, advocacy and other corporate activities.

Fingerprints: a new approach to discover the real impact on the climate

In its 2022 corporate awareness report, “Fingerprints: Our 2022 Climate Impact in Full Disclosure,” Seventh Generation, with support from Pure Strategies and a group of innovative climate advocacy organizations, details a new approach to assessing what it calls the “corporate climate footprint”. The report asks stakeholders to consider “how many places you leave your fingerprint – on your doorstep, on your computer, on the cup of coffee you used in your local bakery. Your fingerprint is probably not the only fingerprint on these items, but it is a mark of your impact.”

The report highlights that companies such as Seventh Generation can find their climate footprints in a range of corporate expenses and activities. For example, when it comes to financial services, it has been widely reported that most major banks, insurance companies and other service providers are investing heavily in the carbon economy and not doing enough to advance a true net zero future. Using the methodology developed by Seventh Generation, Pure Strategies and several NGO partners to assess the company’s financial services partners, we found that financial companies were also lagging behind. Few disclosed their fossil fuel investments, committed to science-based targets, had major climate-smart investment products, or paid more than lip service to climate justice. in their policies and investments.

A review of Seventh Generation’s marketing and creative services also revealed that these service providers were lagging behind. Few had public climate commitments, for example, and none clearly prioritized clients working to advance a net-zero carbon future. Seventh Generation’s philanthropy and advocacy climate footprints fared better due to its leadership in funding Indigenous and justice-based organizations. The report also highlights that while finding and assessing corporate climate footprints is important, the real value lies in closing performance gaps and acting on this broader view of climate hotspots. companies.

Act on your climate footprint

The latest IPCC report was unequivocal. Emissions from already existing and planned fossil fuel infrastructure will push us well beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius, and likely beyond 2 degrees Celsius average global temperature increase. Corporate climate leaders need to look beyond the traditional boundaries of Scopes 1, 2, and 3 and assess how other business activities may impede progress toward a secure and just climate future. We recommend several steps.

Measure: Review the climate practices and policies of service providers and business partners.

  • Although the Climate Fingerprint methodology developed by Seventh Generation and Pure Strategies is new and will evolve and improve over time, it provides a starting point for addressing climate hotspots in business services and relationships beyond litters 1, 2 and 3.
  • Be sure to involve your CFO, foundation management, and others responsible for these relationships in the fingerprinting exercise. Their buy-in will be essential as you move from assessing your fingerprint to taking action.
  • Key resources for this work include annual 10-K reports, ESG reports, CDP submissions, or climate reports using the Task Force for Climate Related Disclosure framework. Outdoor Policy Outfit and Drawdown have published useful methodologies. Other resources include The Carbon Bank Roll and Influence Map.

Radiation: Engage partners. Commitment is key because in some cases the climate-friendly path forward may be relatively simple (new safeguards or new service providers, for example), but in many cases the path to progress may be uncertain . For example, subsidiaries of large companies may not make decisions related to service providers (such as banking services). In other cases, there may be few or no more climate-safe options available. Some starting points include:

  • Sensitize leaders to hot spots and the need for action.
  • Engage with providers about their climate ambitions and policies, and yours.
  • Empower employees to advocate for climate action in their own spheres of influence.

Enable: Make changes and improve performance. Much like traditional strategies for addressing Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions, there can be easy wins and more difficult long-term interventions. Interventions may include:

  • Identify mutually acceptable commitments (such as the Clean Creatives commitment).
  • Pilot climate-friendly innovations and products.
  • Adopt safeguards and incorporate them into tenders and commercial contracts.
  • Prioritize climate justice in philanthropy and advocacy.
  • Speak publicly and inspire industry action.

In the case of Seventh Generation, Ashley Orgain, global director of advocacy and sustainability, says the company “aims to use fingerprints to change the climate policy of our financial and creative service providers, foundations and our advocacy work”.

Fingerprints open new avenues to accelerate the transition away from the fossil fuel economy. I foresee exciting opportunities for sustainability leaders to work with banks, insurers, public relations firms, corporate foundations and other service providers to increase transparency and bring about meaningful change. Equally exciting is the opportunity to collaborate with other businesses and NGOs to amplify our voices. Seventh Generation has devised a way to clean up dirty fingerprints and leave clean ones behind.

Interested in knowing more? Check out Seventh Generation’s report or connect with Pure Strategies at [email protected].

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