With companies such as IKEA and easyJet committing to carbon offsetting and ‘climate positive’ plans, we look at the trend for increased corporate environmental responsibility.

“KLM have even begun asking potential customers whether their flight is really necessary”

Late last year, IKEA announced plans for it to become ‘climate positive’ by 2030. The global furniture retailer will be investing €200 million to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 15% across the entire IKEA value chain to a level lower than its value chain creates, which is equivalent to cutting the average climate footprint of each product by 70%.

Not only is the company working to make its energy-using products more efficient, offering solar panels in some stores to help customers switch to renewable energy, but it’s also providing car-free transportation for them to take their products home. IKEA has also analysed their entire product range to see how they can become circular, from using materials from sustainable sources to creating designs that minimise waste and encourage recycling.

“The ambitions and commitments are quite bold, but it’s based on the science,” says Lena Pripp Kovac, Chief Sustainability Officer at the Inter Ikea Group. “We need to be much more efficient in our supply chains and in our product design, as well as in the way we actually own products in the future.”

Blue sky thinking

Given the size and high profile of the IKEA brand, having such bold environmental ambitions is to be applauded. But they’re not the only company aiming to cut down or offset their impact on the environment. One of the worst offenders for greenhouse gas emissions is the airline industry, and faced with increasing amounts of ‘flygskam’ (Swedish for ‘flight shame’), a number of airlines have made commitments to offset their emissions.

In November 2019, easyJet announced that it would begin compensating for the fuel burned on its flights by investing in carbon offsetting schemes. The move will make easyJet the world’s first major airline to operate net-zero carbon flights across its entire network.

Meanwhile, IAG, the parent company of British Airways has stated that it wants to be carbon-neutral by 2050, offsetting all BA domestic flights from 2020 by putting money into solar energy and forestation programmes. Qantas has also stated that it aims to cap net emissions at 2020 levels and will invest $50 million over ten years to develop sustainable jet fuel.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines have even begun asking potential customers whether their flight is really necessary, asking them to consider whether their journey would be better undertaken by train. If they still need to fly, the airline recommends that they travel light and to consider a fee to cover the difference in costs between kerosene and sustainable fuel.

Carbon Balanced Paper

There’s clearly a lot of work going on behind the scenes at all companies, large and small, in the area of reducing emissions and moving towards being carbon neutral. And it’s likely to be some years before we’ll see any impact on the levels of carbon in the atmosphere or rising global temperatures. But these are all steps in the right direction and serve as encouraging signs that big business is finally getting the message about climate change.

For companies that use printed communications, one of the best ways to ensure that this activity is carbon neutral is to use Carbon Balanced Paper. This is an initiative that encourages companies to use papers and printers that have had their carbon impact balanced by World Land Trust.

World Land Trust is an international conservation charity that protects the planet’s most biologically important and threatened habitats, and the Carbon Balanced programme offsets emissions through the purchase and preservation of high conservation value forest in Khe Nuoc Trong, Vietnam. In the eight years it’s been running, more than 2,000 brands have used Carbon Balanced Paper to offset their carbon emissions, including Unilever, Scottish Power, Anglian Water, Dulux and Specsavers, helping to protect over 16,000 acres if threatened forest.

If you’re serious about your company’s environmental values, then this is the ideal starting point.