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The World's Climate Leaders Wear a ”B”

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At the latest UN climate change conference, held in Madrid, people from around the world met to discuss how to reduce global greenhouse gases under the Paris Agreement by 2050. No small task.

Unfortunately, the talks failed. However, on the last day, there was a burst of confidence-giving chutzpah: 500 Corp entrepreneurs stormed the stage to announce that they, unlike some, would wait no longer. They would bring their businesses to "net zero" by 2030 -10 years from now and a full 20 years before the Paris target. (By net zero, we mean achieving an overall balance between the emissions you put into the atmosphere and the emissions take out of it.)

B Corp entrepreneurs take the initiative

We BDCers were unsurprised by this B Corp chutzpah. We know these people. Even if the prime motivation for most of them is social, i.e., they want their company's success to help make the place they live a better place to live, they’re also motivated to run businesses in ways that don't damage the environment. This of course includes carbon, the most common greenhouse gas that's making Earth’s climate increasingly inhospitable to us humans.

Here's what we see:

1. They're doin' it for themselves.

They're intrinsically motivated to act. They won't wait for the much ballyhooed but elusive "market signals" like carbon taxes or changing investor preferences to tell them to act. The classic cost benefit analysis decision tree is not for them. They decide to act, determine how best to act for their business, and they're off. Catch them if you can—they’re global climate leaders!

2.They’re hybrids.

When they ask themselves how they can help avert a climate crisis, they don’t think like philanthropists or activists. Rather, they think like a hybrid citizen/entrepreneur: Given what my business is and does, what’s the relevant, most powerful thing to do? This is no small point. It prevents them from pursuing laudable goals that are wrong for your business, e.g., raising money to donate to rainforest protection in the Amazon when your supply chain footprint is damaging the boreal forest right here in Canada.

3.They (mostly) do it themselves.

Most don’t need or hire expensive consultants. They find a practical, how-to guide and they do it themselves. Their guide of choice: The environmental questions of the B Corp. Those who do often insist on learning how to do it, and so call on expert firms like fellow B Corp ClimateSmart.

What on earth is my environmental footprint? Seven Starter Questions to Ask Yourself

  1. Do I know the source of the energy my company uses, e.g., coal, nuclear, hydro or solar, and do I know how much energy it uses?
  2. Based on my company’s energy source and consumption, do I know its greenhouse gas emissions?
  3. Do I know how much waste my company produces?
  4. Are my company facilities (owned or leased) built to a high environmental standard and accredited with green building standard such as LEED?
  5. Do I know or monitor how much water my company uses?
  6. Does what I sell have an impact on the environment?
  7. Are my company’s products or processes designed to preserve or restore nature in any way?

We’ve launched our second season of B Corp podcasts, the B Corp Effect. Listen to inspiring stories by B Corp entrepreneurs.

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