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Yesterday I was reminded of the importance of talking about why we take action on issues that matter to us. So I thought I’d talk about why UpShift went Climate Positive in 2020.

For those of you who haven’t come across the term “Climate Positive” it means offsetting more than your generated climate emissions - so your net effect on the environment is positive.

Nelson is lucky to be home to Businesses for Climate Action - a group of businesses ranging from sole traders to larger corporations who want to make a difference. We’re making the call for at least 1,000 businesses in the Nelson/ Tasman to measure and reduce their carbon footprint in 2021.

To launch this initiative we heard from youth climate leader Sophie Handford and local business leaders Florence and Chloe Van Dyke. Something that really resonated with me was Sophie talking about how we need to talk about the “why” of what we do. Quietly going climate positive is one thing, but explaining why we’ve gone climate positive helps spread the word and hopefully encourage other businesses to take action.

At UpShift we’ve been fortunate to work on a number of environmental projects covering issues like water quality, sediment contamination, plastic in oceans, food provenance, sustainable fishing and food safety. Working with scientists and experts has given us valuable insights into the problems facing our planet and potential solutions to them.

For the past 50 years the human race has been using more resources than the Earth can renew and producing more waste than the Earth can absorb. It’s not sustainable and more importantly the Earth is our home and it’s the only home we have. The effects of climate change are already being felt and will become an even harsher reality in the not too distant future.

Human accelerated climate change is the biggest challenge of our time and unfortunately the past couple of decades have involved a lot of politicking and talk - but not a lot of action. But thankfully more and more people are recognising that climate inaction isn’t an option.

As businesses we have an opportunity to take meaningful action. What prompted UpShift to look at our climate impact was my two week business trip to the USA in early 2020. There’s no hiding from the fact that international travel is a major contributor to climate emissions and this led to looking at our entire emission footprint.

The good news was that we run a pretty low impact business with 5.47 tonnes of carbon equivalent for the year - around 1 tonne per staff member. However, over 4 of those tonnes were generated by my USA trip. This year we’ll be using a new model which can take into account external emissions like our staff’s work commutes - which will be an interesting exercise.

Taking the climate positive approach we decided to fund 6.56 tonnes of carbon capture with Ekos, who offer offsetting through a number of reforestation and old growth preservation projects.

At early 2020 pricing offsetting 6.56 tonnes of carbon equivalent involved putting NZD$221.15 towards the restoration and preservation of an old growth rainforest in southern New Zealand. Which is a no brainer, really.

While replanting trees is fantastic the mechanics of carbon absorption means old growth forests can hoover up huge amounts of carbon compared to saplings. On a practical level paying landowners to preserve and nurture old growth forests is a more effective way to offset climate emissions than planting new trees. But as planting trees is an excellent medium-long term approach to carbon sequestration, why not do both?

At the end of 2020 UpShift started working with Ekos to make their in depth carbon calculation and analysis services more accessible for more businesses. Offsetting is only part of the story, it’s vitally important for businesses to be able to see where their emissions are coming from so they can make changes to how they do business to reduce their carbon footprint.

The digital carbon analysis tool we are building will go live later this year. But in the meantime you can talk to Ekos or use their existing calculators here - https://ekos.co.nz/ - to calculate and offset your carbon footprint.

 

Banner image of Rarakau Rainforest by Videocopter.