Tell us a bit about what you and the team at Ekos do?
I’ve been working in the environmental and sustainability space for 36 years and I manage the team that measures carbon footprints for businesses at Ekos. Our organisation started as a carbon offset provider founded by Sean Weaver, who is immensely passionate about two things: native and indigenous forests - and local communities. Originally from Fiji, Sean could see that the forests were the livelihood of the people. Although he didn’t like the idea of forests being felled to the highest bidder, he knew that the local community was simply doing what was needed to survive. Sean wanted to find a solution to this problem, so he started developing carbon offset programmes, the first of which was established on indigenous land in Rarakau, in the western Southland of New Zealand. Instead of felling the forest, this project grew carbon that could be sold for businesses as offsets. The project was hugely successful, and we (Ekos) have now established similar projects in Golden Bay, Vanawatu the Soloman Islands and Fiji.
All our projects are based on the same community ethos that enables local people to collect and consume the fruit and food that these forests produce. So, unlike felling, it’s a win/win situation. The carbon generated is then used by businesses who are keen to offset their emissions and become carbon neutral.
What work are you currently doing for us?
We’ve been engaged to help measure your carbon footprint. We do that through a set of standards, namely ISO 14064-1, which outlines the specific requirements we need to include and measure. For the past year, we’ve been working closely with your team to pull all your data together and I’m excited to say that we’re about 95% of the way through analysing it. This means you’ll get the report from us very soon.
What’s one thing you want businesses to know when it comes to measuring their carbon footprint?
I think it’s important to understand that the work we do is about capturing the whole lifecycle of a company’s emissions and not just those that they’re directly responsible for producing. By the whole lifecycle, we mean that our methodology captures everything that comes to your gate and everything that goes from your gate out to customers. This is important, because to fully explore how you can reduce your carbon footprint, organisations need to see the complete impact of their business activities.
It sounds like measuring your carbon footprint requires a significant amount of investment in terms of both time and effort. Why should businesses care about doing this?
What we’re doing right now globally by extracting and using fossil fuels is beneficial for us today, but the downside is that it’s costing future generations the ability to develop in the same way. If we want to be fair to our children and grandchildren, then we need to find new, sustainable ways that businesses can continue to grow and be profitable. Measuring your carbon footprint is really the first step in this process. Once you fully understand the impact you’re having on the environment, you can start exploring what you can do differently for the benefit of everyone.
Should businesses simply offset or purchase carbon credits or do we need to do more?
Offsetting your carbon credits is just part of the equation and we strongly urge businesses to look for other ways they can reduce their impact. This is because there simply isn’t enough land for all businesses to offset all our global emissions. If we want to see real and lasting changes, then it’s essential for businesses to have a carbon reduction plan in place.
What are some simple things businesses can do to reduce their carbon impact?
Interestingly, Covid has helped. More businesses are using technology to conduct video calls like this one, rather than relying on travel or flights for face-to-face meetings. Of course, sometimes flights are unavoidable, however at least businesses are trying more sustainable ways of doing things. In addition to travel, changing lightbulbs to LEDs can make a huge difference, as can things like looking at whether you could replace your car to a more efficient model. For example, could you look to phase in some hybrid or electric vehicles in the future? Another easy win for many businesses, is exploring ways they can reduce waste and recycle more. In my experience, many of these changes are easy to implement and positively impact a business’ bottom line as they often result in cost savings.
As no business is the same, it’s simply about looking at what’s possible and acting. Every change we make will positively impact our children and generations to come and we thank that’s worth investing in.