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Documentation > Greenhouse effect > Acting individually > I run a business : can I "do something"?

I run a business unit, a company, or an administration : can I "do something" for climate ?

September 2003

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Be it the reflect of an unjustified optimism, or that of a real change, I am convinced that some "business leaders" are decided to act in order to bend the greenhouse geses emissions of the entity they run, even if it requires a little money, a little time or a little sweat (and often the three altogether !).

After all, they are also, sometimes (!), parents, or grand-parents sincerely upset by the consequences of our present behaviour, or conscient that their own well-being might be somewhat prevented in a seriously disturbed environment, or perfectly coucious that some emission savings are also synonymous of financial savings, or concious that the "citizen company" wins on many things (well being of the employees, satisfaction of the clients, image towards the students - future employees...), or consious that a company heavily dependant on fossil fuels is vulnerable on the long term, or simply wishful to have a "decent" behaviour ; in short there is most certainly a non negligible - and without doubt increasing - fraction of these business leaders that wish, for various reasons, to "do something".

But this will, in order to be converted into acts, must rely on measure (there is no possible progress without measure : is must be possible to quantify the effects of a given action). It is therefore necessary to estimate the emissions of the entity they run so that they can think about the best way to act at their level to induce a decrease of the emissions they generate.

Indeed, if the breakdown by large activity sector is known, this is not enough to offer a precise action guide to given company.

This is the reason why methods allowing the measure of greenhouse gases emissions start to appear here and there. They are an indispensable prerequisite to any reduction action, and which will often provide, during their completion, ideas and suggestions that nobody thought of before (well that is my experience anyway !). Such a measure also enables to know what action allows what gain, and under what conditions.

There are two completed methods I know of :

one is the GHG protocol, jointly initiated by the World Resources Institute and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, to my opinion mostly oriented towards large companies, très orientée "grandes entreprises", with a focus on the emissions directly happning within the legal boundaries of the company, but not much adapted to estimating rapidly the magnitude of the emissions happening elsewhere but induced by the company's activity. All documents can be downloaded on

a method mostly designed by your humble servant for the french environment agency (ADEME) and the french "greenhouse effect government agency" (MIES), probably quite complementary to the previous one (and anyway compatible wih the guidelines of th GHG protocol), and which is described here in its main lines.

You want to "do something" ? Measuring your dorect and indirect emissions is a very good start, and, from experience, I can assure you will be surprised by the perspectives and the results !


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