Happy Earth Day or perhaps unhappy depending on your view of the IPCC’s most recent update that extols the progress made and potential for solutions if we take action immediately, but warns of the dire consequences if we maintain our current path. The time to act is now. Industry, accounting for 21% of the country’s emissions alone according to the EPA, must do more to reduce their emissions fast. As individuals we can reduce our personal carbon footprints, but as employees, we can have an even bigger impact. Here are 3 things everyone can do to push for climate action at work.
1) Ask if your company has a sustainability plan, if it doesn’t ask why and volunteer to help. Sustainability plans help improve resource efficiency, inspire innovation and engage employees. With mandatory ESG reporting on the horizon from the SEC, it behooves all companies to start a sustainability plan that tracks environmental, social and governance impacts. If your company already has a plan, ask about what your department is doing to support the plan? Could you alter procurement policies or change processes to help achieve the plan's goals?
2) Advocate for equitable community outreach programs. Those most effected by the ills of climate change and pollution are often disadvantaged. So companies need to step up and ensure their philanthropic efforts meaningfully benefit the disadvantaged in their local community rather than serving the same national charities year after year.
3) Keep working from home. If we’ve learned anything from the pandemic it’s that work can be productive over Zoom—encourage your workplace to allow the practice to continue. Opt for Zoom over air travel whenever possible and when it's not, choose air carriers that use alternative fuels and offset emissions. Continuing a practice that employees appreciate and reduces commute related emissions should be an easy give for companies looking to achieve net zero by 2050 or sooner. Hopefully much sooner!
Today, let's celebrate Earth Day by committing to climate action at work. If we can get our companies to behave even a little bit more sustainable, we’ll be making progress in the right direction. The next step is accelerating on that path, and that work will need our focus tomorrow and every day after until net zero is achieved.
Happy Earth Day friends! Let's get to it.