What is carbon accounting (and why is it bad for the climate)?

Carbon accounting tools (also known as GHG accounting or GHG reporting) are used to measure a company’s carbon emissions from their activities, which allows them to understand their contribution to global warming.

Carbon accounting is bad. Okay, we know how that sounds – hear us out on this one.

While understanding how your company contributes to GHG emissions is a good thing, most companies treat carbon accounting as a vitamin – they do it because they want to, not because they have to.

That leads to a whole host of business leaders who want to do their bit to reduce their companies impact on the climate, partly for the good of the planet, and partly for the good of their bottom line.

These purposeful leaders search ‘measuring carbon footprint’ in Google, and find a torrent of ads about how it’s simple and easy to know what your carbon footprint is and take action.

The company books a demo and signs the paperwork, feeling virtuous. There’s a moment of pain when they load all the data into their new toy and get a result that tells them their company emitted 15 tonnes of carbon.

The business leaders are then given a range of options to offset their emissions (because making a margin on carbon offsets is easier than making a margin off behavior change).

They offset and go about their day job, with no real understanding of the environmental factors at play in their greenhouse gas emissions and no motivation to undertake emissions reduction or remove their reliance on fossil fuel.

In short, their decision-making process becomes no more sustainable, nor do they reduce business travel, invest in renewable energy, or make moves to become genuinely carbon neutral. Quantifying your energy consumption is one thing – adjusting it is another.

This is bad for climate.

So, what’s the alternative to carbon accounting?

For one, if you want to cut your emissions or reach net zero as a company there are some excellent resources that don’t require you to measure first.

That’s right, you don’t need to have a number if you want to reduce your carbon dioxide output, you only need a number if you want to prove that you’ve reduced it, for eco credentials or as part of an update to stakeholders.

Attending a Small 99 climate discussion meet-up, for example, involves not measuring the amount of carbon you produce, but it does involve meeting with other businesses to discuss how to reduce your environmental impact.

You do, however, need to know what green choices look like, and that’s where we come in. We integrate into the places where decisions are being made – that way you don’t need to rely on all your team being virtuous or listening to your sustainability manager.

We put it in black and white (or green) what the carbon cost is of every decision your business makes. That’s the type of GHG accounting we’re all about.

With our help, you can discover the carbon footprint (direct and indirect emissions) of your:

  • Products
  • Supply chain
  • Electronic devices
  • Employee commuting

You can then set science based targets and reduction targets to actually deal directly with your carbon emissions, instead of outsourcing your guilt to a carbon offsetting company for £5 per month.

How does it work?

Thanks to our user-friendly API (we take care of all the methodology), you can find out the carbon cost of your decisions.

We make it simple to highlight which Macbook has the lowest carbon footprint, so you can consider whether you really need that power-guzzling Pro.

Finding out facts like IBM has a 20th of the carbon footprint of Infosys per $ spent can also help you make informed decisions with carbon reporting at the forefront. It’s a win for your company’s carbon footprint, and a win for your profits, too.

With that in mind, let’s replay the scenario we imagined at the start. Instead of the business leader putting all their stock in the accounting process, they instead ask their procurement or supply chain tool to add in emissions data to inform every member of the work team.

Now, every member of the company is optimizing to reduce the company’s Co2 and Co2e emissions, and doing their bit for climate change. The result? You’re a climate hero, and you haven’t even had to glue yourself to any paintings!

Got a question?

Measuring is one thing, driving action is what we really need, integrating DitchCarbon into our operations has enabled a key shift in behaviour
Sarah Wilson, Procurement Practitioner

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