This article was originally printed exclusively on Ceylon Today for its 2016 World Environment Day publication.
The Carbon Consulting Company (CCC) is a social enterprise founded by a group of green visionaries with a desire to make a difference through accessible sustainability advisory solutions. CCC considers all 365 days of the year to be environment day, and work towards helping the environment all year round.
Initiated five years ago, CCC runs on a five-stage mantra: measure-impact, manage-change, mitigate-adverse effects, maximise-environmental performance and market-accomplishments, in order to ensure that companies reduce the negative environmental impacts of their daily operations. CCC does not measure its success by money earned. Instead, they measure it by the impact created and the amount of change that has been made with regard to good environmental practices being adopted by businesses.
These green leaders attempt to get companies to bring the concept of caring about the environment and sustainability into their day-to-day business thinking. Normally businesses pay a great amount of attention to dividends, profits and ROI. CCC tries to get these businesses to think about the harm caused to the environment to arrive at that profit. Created around the concept of carbon footprinting and carbon offsetting, CCC also focuses on water, biodiversity, energy and waste.
A company’s carbon footprint is the sum total of all the greenhouse gases (GHGs) emitted during their operations. Very often the first step is to measure such, since it provides a baseline to move forward with. Once that has been done, CCC works with companies to track, manage and mitigate carbon emissions. During this time, change management needs to take place and staff awareness needs to be created, and CCC assists the company in implementing this by convincing the senior management first and then allowing that effect to trickle down to the rest of the business. CCC has managed to help some companies reduce 8-10% of their energy bills through this process.
One of their largest projects, currently, is Indian company Cycle Pure Agarbathies, the world’s largest manufacturer of incense sticks. This company has been certified CarbonNeutral® by CCC.
Being carbon neutral doesn’t mean not having a carbon footprint. Businesses cannot run without emitting a certain amount of carbon. Being carbon neutral means that companies have understood their footprint and have completely offset it to become what is known as ‘net zero’.
CCC offers many services to enable the achievement of such a goal. The services they provide include carbon footprinting and mitigation, water footprinting and mitigation, life cycle assessments, energy auditing, resource efficient cleaner production assessments and biodiversity assessments. CCC also provides planning and consultation services for carbon offset development projects, and facilitating the purchase of registered, ethical carbon offsets in particular is something that they pride themselves on.
Green energy is starting to be the way to go. However, it is not financially viable, since the payback on investment takes a considerable amount of time. Companies that produce green energy, therefore, quantify the amount of pollution foregone or saved due to the clean energy generated and offer to exchange that saving with companies that pollute, in return for a financial investment in their clean energy project. These are what are known as carbon offsets/credits. This mechanism allows businesses to offset their carbon footprints indirectly.
Any project that helps prevent or reduce the release of GHGs into the atmosphere, or removes them, would be eligible for carbon credit status. However, one of the main requirements for companies with such projects to register to sell carbon credits is to prove that without such money the project is not viable. Projects that have been running already cannot obtain this.
One thing that CCC likes to stress on is that obtaining carbon credits does not mean ‘carbon trading’ and it is not a fine or a penalty. It is simply an investment in a project that is helping combat climate change. CCC has tied up with UK based Natural Capital Partners (NCP), who are the world’s leading provider of carbon offsets, to facilitate this service. NCP’s own carbon registry has credits from all over the world listed on it including Sri Lanka, and CCC ensures that regional businesses are provided access to internationally accepted quality credits for their offsetting purposes.