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Net Zero - an analogy

Net Zero - an analogy

As a regular hillwalker* I know that to climb a mountain you need to plan, pack and persist.  Here I will explore the analogy between climbing a mountain and a business or individual cutting their carbon emissions to zero.

To start you need to plan.  You do this consciously, or unconsciously, by assessing your current situation.  Are you fit, what time do you have off, who else is available, where do you want to go?  Businesses or individuals need to understand their baseline.  They can do this by auditing their current carbon emissions, understand your strengths, weaknesses, supply chain and customers.  Businesses should then set a target for cutting their carbon emissions.

Then you need to pack and prepare.  You liaise with your friends, agree a date and a destination and arrange transport.  You pack the essential equipment that you will need – map, compass, waterproofs and food.  Businesses should plan how they are going to cut their carbon emissions. There will be immediate, short term and long term activities.  You may need to partner with other organisations and invest some money up front.

Once you begin your ascent, you need to persist – to keep going perhaps through bad weather or other obstacles.  It can be hard to climb a mountain, and many give up and turn back.  But every step takes you one step closer and the view improves the higher you get – it is worth it.  Businesses will find many easy early steps – perhaps replacing light bulbs with energy efficiency ones or installing more energy efficient plant and machinery.  Individuals might replace some car journeys by bike.  Other steps require long-term forward thinking, for example installing solar panels may have a long payback period.  There may be obstacles, lack of cash or technical difficulties, but you need to persevere.  Work with your supply chain to buy lower carbon goods, replace your heating system with a heat pump, and most importantly redesign your products to offer higher quality, lower impact products to customers.  In the same way that walking with friends makes it easier, so it is easier if businesses and individuals work on environmental issues with others.

The sense of achievement at the summit makes it all worthwhile.  Yet, most people go on to do more – on the descent they start planning the next mountain they want to climb.  For a business, highlight and showcase the good work you have done.  Customers may take an interest and you may find that you can collaborate with other businesses for mutual benefit.   Inspirational ‘low carbon’ companies find they are on a journey, they are never finished, and always have more and better projects in the pipeline.  Individuals will want to share what they have achieved with their friends.

If you are a business you may wish to join the ‘Race to Zero’ or ‘Together for our Planet’ pledge before COP26.

* I have climbed all 282 munros in Scotland - mountains over 3,000 feet (914m)

Carbon Choices

If you have enjoyed this blog, you might enjoy my book, Carbon Choices on the common sense solutions to our climate and nature crises.  Available direct from me or  I am donating one third of profits to rewilding projects.