In December 2019, Koskela pledged to be Net Zero by 2030. We made this announcement during the UN Climate Change Conference, COP25.
Nine months later, Koskela is thrilled to announce that we have achieved the first milestone on our journey to Net Zero: we are certified carbon neutral. This means that the activities associated with running the Koskela organisation have no net negative impact on the environment.
Officially, Koskela has been awarded Climate Active Carbon Neutral certification as an Organisation. This is considered one of the most rigorous carbon neutral certifications in the world, backed by the Australian Federal Government.
It is worth nothing that this certification only applies to Koskela as an organisation. The Australian manufacturers we work with are not Climate Active Carbon Neutral and therefore carbon neutrality does not extend to Koskela’s products.
How does Carbon Neutral work?
Climate Active explains it best:
To become carbon neutral, businesses calculate the greenhouse gas emissions generated by their activity, such as fuel or electricity use and travel. They reduce these emissions as much as possible by investing in new technology or changing the way they operate. Any remaining emissions can be 'cancelled out' by purchasing carbon offsets. Carbon offset units are generated from activities that prevent, reduce or remove greenhouse gas emissions from being released into the atmosphere. When the offsets purchased by an organisation equal the emissions produced they are carbon neutral. (1)
How Koskela achieved carbon neutrality
Koskela worked with Pangolin Associates, a fellow Certified B Corporation, to help with the technical aspects of our Climate Active application. Achieving carbon neutrality is a three-part process: measuring, reducing and then offsetting emissions.
Together with Pangolin Associates we measured Koskela’s emissions for the 2019 calendar year (CY). This involves undertaking a Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Assessment or carbon footprint, which is quantified in carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2-e).
CO2e is a bit technical, but useful. It’s a standard unit of measure for various greenhouse gases, including methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases, that vary in potency, i.e. how much heat they trap, and for how long they linger. (2)
For the 2019 CY, Koskela emissions amounted to 1,959 metric tonnes of CO2, or CO2 equivalent emissions. CO2e emissions are categorised as belonging to one of three “scopes.”
- Scope 1 is refrigerants. It’s attributed to the air conditioning we use to cool and heat our office. Our emissions for Scope 1 were 0.7 tCO2e/cy.
- Scope 2 refers to purchased electricity from power companies. Our emissions for Scope 2 were 173.6 tCO2e/cy.
- Scope 3 reflects the emissions from all other business activities and includes those beyond our immediate control. Our emissions for Scope 3 were 1,978.3 tCO2e/cy.
Scope 1 and scope 2 emissions are mandatory in a GHG assessment under regulations covered by the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act. Essentially, it’s what companies (big emitters such as coal and gas giants) are obliged to measure and declare if they exceed thresholds defined by the Australian Federal Government’s Clean Energy Regulator.
As a small business with 23 full-time equivalent employees and only one premise in Rosebery, Sydney, our scope 1 and 2 emissions are relatively modest. Furthermore, in regard to scope 2, all of Koskela’s electricity is provided by accredited renewable generators through GreenPower, so these emissions have already been eliminated.
Scope 3 emissions are where it becomes challenging because it encompasses our supply chain. Koskela makes products, specifically furniture, which is unavoidably resource heavy. We do not own the Australian factories that make our furniture, and therefore these emissions were not included in our GHG assessment. However, Koskela is responsible for the materials used in our furniture. Paint or clear coating, fabric, timber laminates & veneers, solid pine, upholstery, metal and leather were all included in the assessment and collectively amount to 39.9 percent of our total emissions. Koskela is also responsible for shipping raw materials to our manufacturers and shipping the finished products to our customers. Road freight accounts for 48.8 percent of our total emissions.
Undertaking a comprehensive GHG assessment provides us with a clear picture of the operations we need to prioritise to significantly reduce our GHG emissions.
Complex and longer term focuses include:
- Freight ‐ Develop a relationship with service providers to understand the distances transported and opportunities for reductions or lower emissions modes.
- Materials ‐ Prioritise lower carbon intensity materials where possible and work with suppliers to understand supply chain related emissions.
Easier and quicker fixes include:
- Postage ‐ Investigate the use of postage services to minimise unnecessary mail, prioritising digital alternatives and working with suppliers to reduce emissions intensity per item.
- Flights ‐ Review staff travel to identify essential and non‐essential trips. Transition to using teleconferencing technology where possible or combining trips to improve efficiency.
Finally, Pangolin Associates assisted Koskela with purchasing carbon credits to offset the emissions we are not yet able to eliminate.
Offset units are used to compensate for emissions a business produces and to bring their carbon footprint down to zero. Offset units are generated by projects that reduce, remove or capture emissions from the atmosphere such as reforestation, renewable energy or energy efficiency. (3)
Koskela is offsetting our emissions by investing in two Carbon Credit Projects:
Aboriginal Carbon Fund, Northern Territory, Australia
The Aboriginal Carbon Foundation (AbCF) catalyses life-changing, community prosperity, through carbon farming. Their aim is to build wealth for Traditional Owners and non-Aboriginal carbon farmers, implementing carbon projects that demonstrate environmental, social and cultural core benefits, through the ethical trade of carbon credits.
We chose the Aboriginal Carbon Fund as we have a strong commitment to reconciliation with Australia’s Indigenous peoples.
Nuziveedu Seeds Wind Power Projects, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, India
Nuziveedu Seeds Limited (NSL) is a Bio Agri company that has supplied Indian farmers with quality seeds for more than four decades. The company’s CSR initiatives cover a range of social and environmental measures, including the provision of clean, renewable energy. Two wind turbine projects in Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu supply the NEWNE grid and the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB), displacing electricity otherwise sourced from fossil fuels.
The wind power project was chosen as it had benefits in addition to its positive environmental impact through job creation, economic well-being and technology advances.
Koskela’s purchased carbon credits have been retired on the Verra Public Registry.
Now, you can find us on the Climate Active website. We are listed as a Carbon Neutral Organisation among the other Australian certified brands.
Why we took this action
In October 2018, The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C.
The science shows that a 1.5°C increase in average global temperature is the limit to reduce the worst impacts for our planet and its inhabitants. Beyond 1.5°C, the world will increasingly experience dangerous climate impacts and humanitarian crises linked to drought, sea level rise, flooding, extreme heat and ecosystem collapse (4). At the current trajectory, the IPCC estimates we will reach this limit as early as 2030.
Koskela is a proud Certified B Corporation. When we pledged to be Net Zero by 2030, we did so along with over 500 B Corps including Patagonia, The Body Shop, Allbirds and The Guardian.
Collectively we believe it is imperative for businesses to demonstrate leadership in eliminating emissions, drawing down carbon, and ensuring a just transition for displaced workers and communities to a net zero emissions economy.
For Koskela, becoming Climate Active Carbon Neutral is the important first step towards combating climate change and saving planet earth!
Now Koskela has measured our emissions and developed strategies to reduce them, we need to set reduction targets that are aligned with reduction pathways for limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C. These targets are termed science-based targets (SBTs).
The Science Based Targets initiative is a collaboration between CDP, the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), World Resources Institute (WRI), and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). The initiative’s overall aim is that by 2020, science-based target setting will become standard business practice
Companies have a pivotal role in ensuring that the global temperature goals are met, however most companies’ targets do not match the ambition and timelines consistent with a 1.5°C future.
SBTs will provide Koskela with a scientifically backed pathway to Net Zero. Our goal for the next decade is to rely less on offsetting emissions and reduce our gross emissions towards zero.
How we define Net Zero
Koskela is Climate Active Carbon Neutral, which means we emit net zero emissions. While this is a positive step towards combating climate change, it falls short of driving the systematic change required to transition to a low carbon economy.
Since the Industrial Age, human civilisation has been consistently increasing emissions, and even now, in 2020, they are continuing to rise. Under current trajectories, global mean temperatures are projected to increase by 2.2°C to 4.4°C by the end of this century (5). The consensus is clear, this trajectory must be stopped and reversed in order to prevent the catastrophic consequences of climate change.
Not only do greenhouse gas emissions need to decline to zero, we also need to capture and remove these warming gases from the atmosphere. Climate positive refers to restoring the balance of atmospheric greenhouse gas/pollution to within equilibrium (6).
For our business, carbon neutral is the first step, Net Zero is the journey of reducing our gross emissions to zero, and carbon positive in the destination. Koskela is committed to investing, innovating and evolving so we can ultimately remove more carbon from the atmosphere than we emit.
What can you do?
As a consumer, the action you can take is two-fold:
Spend wisely – Check out the Climate Active website and educate yourself about Australian carbon neutral companies that you can support. Research the products and services you are purchasing and consider their impact on the environment. Preference those that minimise waste, utilise recycled materials, are made to last, and can be repurposed at the end of their life cycle.
Speak up – Petition government and industry to prioritise climate action. Get behind the countless campaigns from organisations such as BCorp, WWF, GetUp! and GreenPeace. Even more importantly, talk about climate change – with family, friendly, colleagues and the wider community. As individuals, we are responsible for ensuring the groundswell keeps surging and remains something the powers that be cannot ignore!