We have been watching the impacts of global warming become more severe in recent years, and as it is now on the forefront of the agenda for most people, they are asking “what can we do?”. There are two ways to answer this, on a personal level there are multiple things you can do in your day-to-day life to help drive change. From a professional perspective, you can set up an Environmental Management System (EMS) within your business, or if you already have one why not improve it.
Most companies talk about EMS in the context of cost savings and managing risk but often forget about its main purpose – To limit your environmental impact and help improve our growing problem. An EMS is a powerful tool in the fight against global warming and climate change.
This seems like a simple thing to point out, but it is also one of the most important parts of introducing changes on a large scale.
If a lot of people are all working towards a common goal, but they are working with diverse approaches, how do you know if they are successful? Some early difficulties in the sustainability field have been lack of awareness of what people across the industry are doing. There could be multiple organisations working towards a similar goal, but they are not communicating correctly. If there are multiple methodologies from several companies, it then becomes difficult to track changes and compare improvements.
Standardising the language which we are all speaking is a paramount priority. Once we all have our universal measures, we can start recording the data. Using an EMS and working towards a certification like ISO 14001 is a great way for an organisation to standardise the data and add it to the bigger collective. ISO standards are designed to be policy neutral, giving them the flexibility to be applied to any organisation around the world. The data gathered by them is then used by the United Nations in their SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) on climate action.
In short, ISO standards help governments and organizations address climate change.
Risks and Opportunities
Inside an EMS is a section called ‘risks and opportunities’ in which an organisation can list out all aspects that will be negatively affected (risks) and how they will overcome these issues (opportunities). This encourages the use of preventative actions to manage and mitigate risk. This can help the climate change in two ways.
The first way is lowering all your day-to-day emissions. Every change a business makes in their operation will have a positive effect. If you switch to energy efficient products and services or limit your carbon usage – this will help lower your carbon footprint and minimise your impact. The more detailed and inclusive the risks list, the better.
The second way it helps is by helping you visualise the issue in a real way. When compiling your risks, why not work on addressing the main cause rather than just the resulting problems. You can include climate change as your main risk. From there you can think bigger and make more far-reaching goals that help you mitigate and adapt to our changing world. An example of this is the growing list of corporations pledging to be plastic free/100% renewable/carbon neutral by 2020.
They are using the framework of an EMS and expanding on it. Identifying the route cause lets you tackle it more systematically, which will reduce the impact it will have. From an environmental perspective, it is better to be proactive than reactive.
An EMS is a management tool that is designed to make processes easier for you. It is consistently being updated and improved in order to help you maximise your efficiency in a number of ways.
- It speeds up operational procedures and helps you map and cut through the unnecessary processes.
- Gives detailed information on fleet usage so you can consolidate vehicle usage.
- Let’s you track your energy use and maximise energy efficiency.
- Highlight and minimise legal and financial risk.
- Improve waste streams and help you create strategies to lower unnecessary waste.
- Change day-to-day material use and reduce single-use waste.
- Reduce your greenhouse gas emission and offset carbon emissions.
All these points add up to make a huge difference for the environment. If we are working with a limited supply of resources, it is vitally important that we limit our use and ensure what we do use – is used in a responsible manner. This is the main strength of an EMS. Improving the efficiency of your organisation is the best thing you could do to help fight global warming. With 58% of all carbon emissions in the UK being the result of businesses, the responsibility to act also site with them.
It is the large collection of processes that culminate in greenhouse gas creation and lead to global warming, so it stands to reason that if you remove or improve these processes you will also have a big impact. And if it is done well, it will not even be noticeable in your everyday operations.
Are you interested in the issues of global warming and climate change and how you can help it?
If you are looking to implement an EMS in your business or improve the one you already have in place. Get in contact today and help solve global warming.
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