We’re a Toitū Climate Positive Organisation. Here’s what that means
This year, we acknowledge nine years of certification under Toitū Envirocare as a Climate Positive Organisation as we continue, where possible, reducing and de-carbonising our business activities. All business activity has an impact. Here we discuss why we began accounting for carbon and the broader implications of taking responsibility in the context of climate change.
Climate positivity, carbon neutral, what do these terms mean?
—Carbon neutral means that any CO2 released into the atmosphere from a company's activities is balanced by an equivalent amount of carbon being removed. There’s a net-zero carbon emissions release into the atmosphere.
—Climate positive means that activity goes beyond achieving net zero carbon emissions to create an environmental benefit by removing additional carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
—Carbon negative means the same thing as “climate positive.”
—Carbon positive is sometimes how organisations describe the previous two definitions.
—Climate Neutral refers to reducing all greenhouse gas emissions to the point of zero while eliminating all other negative environmental impacts that an organisation may cause.
—Net-Zero carbon emissions mean an activity releases net-zero carbon emissions into the atmosphere.
—Net-Zero emissions balance the whole amount of greenhouse gases released and the amount removed from the atmosphere.
Our overall organisational carbon footprint
In 2014 we conducted our first Greenhouse Gas accounting, and despite high levels of growth, over the past three years, we’ve reduced the carbon intensity of our activities by 42 per cent. Our impact for the reporting period ending March this year was 169 metric tonnes of C02 emissions. The two main drivers of our CO2e  emissions are transportation, moving product, and our people, as with increased product demand and sales volume will come to an increased total climate impact.
While sea freight is the most challenging, we’re on track domestically: in the last four years, we’ve reduced road transportation from 25 to 13 metric tonnes of C02 emissions. We’re also measuring more categories of emissions than when we started, such as waste generated and rental cars, which adds to the total impact but gives us more data and insight to improve and decarbonise. You can’t manage what you can’t measure. We also compensated for at least 25 per cent more emissions than our footprint which is how we ended up as a Toitū Envirocare climate positive certified organisation.
What are the Toitū Envirocare certifications?
Toitū Envirocare offers two certification programmes founded on ISO standards and recognised in more than 60 countries. Those are the two main frameworks for counteracting carbon emissions, but how companies achieve carbon neutrality or climate positivity varies.
—Toitū net carbonzero certification
—Toitū climate positive certification
Generally, though, organisations meet these standards through a combination of reducing emissions–switching to renewable energy, reducing waste, electrifying transportation–and offsetting carbon by funding projects, like reforestation efforts, that remove carbon from the air. That said, even when you reduce your footprint as much as possible, there’s going to be a residual footprint—the cost of doing business and so, offsetting is an effective way to counteract that residual footprint, and it’s often how companies are able to surpass net zero to claim climate positivity. That is how we did.
We’re actively participating in the global net-zero emissions movement
According to the targets set by the Paris Climate Agreement, we have until 2050 to reach global net-zero emissions. The Agreement is a legally binding international treaty on climate change. It was adopted by 196 Parties at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris, France, on 12 December 2015. It entered into force on 4 November 2016.
Its overarching goal is to hold “the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels” and pursue efforts “to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.” That’s because the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change indicates that crossing the 1.5°C threshold risks unleashing far more severe climate change impacts, including more frequent and severe rainfall, heatwaves and drought.
Our government signed the Agreement, though according to the Climate Action Tracker Aotearoa, New Zealand's efforts to decarbonise are rated “highly insufficient”. Beyond a new law requiring around 200 large publicly listed companies and large insurers, banks, non-bank deposit takers and investment managers, companies are not obligated to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
By the end of this decade, globally, we need to cut the emissions of greenhouse gases in half in order for global warming to stay within a 1.5-degree target. The United Nations has called on all businesses to accelerate the transformation toward a sustainable future that addresses climate change. These programmes provide a framework for action. And we need people to be more engaged, the people who own and/or have positions in companies to prioritise climate. People need to be more engaged with the issues of climate because being in business has an impact, and it is only when more companies start accounting for carbon emissions will we see any meaningful decline in emissions.