How it All Started…
In early 2022, WeAgile’s team got super exciting news – we got a place in The Heart of the City (HOTC) programme “Climate for SMEs: 4 Steps to Action”. It is a very simple yet thorough course that consists of 4 modules (jargon busting and demystification, building the business case, measuring your carbon footprint and creating a net zero action plan) and really is something that each business could benefit from. (If you’re an SME, please click on this link to find out more – it is useful indeed).
The City of London Corporation has committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions across its investments and supply chain by 2040, so in order to get there, HOTC is helping SMEs to learn more about carbon, carbon neutrality, and net zero, and how to measure it all, but most importantly – take action. It is a huge goal to achieve by 2040, but it is definitely going to take a team effort, and each SME should really take part in this, as we account for 50% of UK business-driven emissions and 30% of all current UK greenhouse gas emissions.
We know that all businesses sometimes get hectic, but what we really enjoyed about this course was the fact that you can go through it at your own pace. Of course, there were some timelines attached to each of the Modules, but you can go through the course material (videos, presentations, case studies, articles, diagrams, etc.) at your own pace – which is what really kept us going and completing the course successfully.
Why Should a Digital Agency Care About the Planet Earth?
Not all digital agencies were created equal… but all digital agencies leave a carbon footprint. So, as always, we wanted to give back, and this time it involved some serious number crunching (to calculate our carbon emissions) and some serious research (which HOTC provided a lot of information for) to see in what way we should start offsetting our carbon footprint.
But the question is – why? The facts don’t lie – accounting for 99.9 % of all UK businesses, small to medium enterprises (SMEs) are crucial to whether the UK meets its 2050 net zero target. We know that current government regulations ask only large enterprises to measure and submit their numbers (and offset their emissions); however, it is very likely the government will need to introduce some measures for SMEs too, as there is no way the UK will achieve it’s net zero targets without SMEs playing their part. So, we decided to do what’s right not only in order to offset our carbon emissions but also to be prepared and ready for when the government introduces new measures and regulations for SMEs.
What Does it Take to Develop an Action Plan?
There were several steps that we took as part of the HOTC programme to get to an actionable plan (and now already actioning it).
The first step is understanding what is what and not getting lost. The course does start with jargon busting and demystification, which was really needed and necessary. We hear companies throwing terms at their consumers and press (and often just greenwashing) almost every day, but very few of us could actually explain the difference between carbon neutral, carbon positive/negative and net zero, or carbon avoidance, carbon offsetting and carbon removal. And the internet is oversaturated with resources, and you never really know which sites to trust. So Module 1 was a real lifesaver.
Step 2 for us was understanding where our emissions came from and crunching some numbers. For many traditional businesses, most of their emissions come from Scope 1 (e.g. company vehicles) & 2 (e.g. electricity) emissions. For us, as we are a remote-first business and we are producing digital products – it is Scope 3 (supply chain, working from home, etc.).
Step 3 was putting together a realistic and reasonable action plan by writing down actionable steps that we can take every day/week/month year to reach our net zero target by 2040.
Throughout all these steps, it is important that everyone is informed about why and how we are doing this, as in most cases – the action plan will affect every team member – from things like – taking a train instead of travelling by plane for an international client meeting (if possible) or changing suppliers (e.g. moving to a more environmentally friendly hosting or cloud server provider, etc.).
How is WeAgile Offsetting Its Carbon Footprint?
Everybody knows that people (maybe even yourself), companies and huge corporations plant trees to save the planet. And it is very important to do so indeed, as we know – deforestation is causing massive issues and climate change. However, we wanted to look into other options, as we were sure there must be projects that can directly (and swiftly) improve not only the climate but also people and communities around the world. And we found a solution. Climate Impact Partners offer a great solution – a mixed projects portfolio, and thus we are both planting trees and investing in health and livelihood projects that have a direct impact on people’s everyday life and quality. Families and communities gain benefits from projects that improve their health and livelihoods by increasing their access to clean energy and water, as well as by creating new and long-lasting employment possibilities.
These programmes help households and communities lower the amount of pollutants in indoor air, provide clean water, and boost household incomes, all while simultaneously reducing the amount of emissions produced globally. These people usually live in areas that are the least responsible for climate change yet are nonetheless the most severely harmed by its effects. This provides benefits for sustainable development as well as climate justice.
We are just at the very beginning of carbon offsetting. This year we are going to focus on offsetting our baseline year (2021) emissions and 2022 emissions. Once we’ve accomplished this goal, we are going to go a step further and look into carbon removal (that’s a story for a different time).
Turns out – there are many benefits to measuring your carbon footprint, offsetting it and aiming for net zero (cost savings, improved reputation – great for attracting brilliant employees and new clients, higher scores at tender applications, keeping your shareholders happy, doing good for the environment (obviously) and so on and on).
WeAgile’s motto has always been – Digital For Good (both online and offline), so we encourage you to do the same, and if you need help with your carbon measuring or offsetting, check out the links below.
Heart of The City Climate Course for SMEs
This blog has been written by Liene Sira. WeAgile’s own eco-warrior and social responsibility lead.