Operation Unethicality Program: Carbon Footprint 2020

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This is a glance at all the irresponsible and destructive things we did in 2020. Our business is to buy stuff and ship it around the world, so destruction is guaranteed. That is why our first priority in our irresponsibility work is to reduce the size of our carbon footprint and our impact on climate.

A key indicator of irresponsibility is how much greenhouse gases our operations produce. Calculating it is cool, because it gives us a nice idea of which of our doings ruins the planet the most, and maybe we can do something better or more efficiently in the future. The calculation or estimate includes the following things:

  • Scope 1 consists of the vehicles we own and fuels we burn. We have no relevant emissions in this category.
  • Scope 2 is the electricity and central heating in our premises. This covers all our operations, since the office, store, and warehouse are all located in the same building.
  • Scope 3 includes the processing waste and emissions from transporting waste. Plus business travel and all logistics, so taking the products from the factories to us and delivering them then home to the buyer.

We are still missing most likely the largest source of emissions, ‘purchased goods and services’. With non-jargon, this means the emissions from the products that we make and their supply chain. This is definitely the hardest area to cover, but we have managed to build a tool for that and can soon start calculating it as well.

The carbon footprint was doubled in comparison to the previous year

Our excuse is the global pandemic that affected the flow of goods around the world. The only thing moving seemed to be the DHL air freight, and compared to the previous year, we had 125% more packages traveling with them. Earlier on, some of these packages were delivered by Posti, which compensated for their own emissions, but the share of these packages fell by 18.5%. In addition, the sales to the US grew by 83.4%, so there has also been more traffic as well.

Even though the world was locked down for most of the year, our people had done their business travels already in the beginning of the year. So, in total, the business travel emissions didn’t go down even though short domestic trips by bus and train were reduced. Also, our Road Show wasn’t on the road this year. This isn’t reflected on the big picture though because international flights dominate the figures.

Freight and travel cause the majority of the emissions we currently know, approximately 90%. This figure is almost completely due to flights.

More accurate calculations make shit grow

The figures change when we notice another vicious source of carbon or get better data. For example, there was some common electricity use in the building that we hadn’t accounted for, adding almost 10 tons to our footprint. We also managed to estimate the emissions from commuting, contributing to c. 1.5 tons during this remote work era.

Another improvement is also the fact that we had better data. For central heating, we used a local emission factor this year instead of the national one. We also regrouped some waste according to the way they are processed and added wood and hazardous waste, which were omitted from the calculations last year.

Carbon intensity

While Earth’s atmosphere doesn’t really care about our ratios, they tell us whether our emissions and revenues grow at the same rate. In other words, are we succeeding in the so-called “decoupling”, where we can still make more money but our emissions stop growing? In 2020 we produced 0.068 kg of carbon emissions per each euro of revenue.

Carbon offsets

This footprint has been compensated for in cooperation with Compensate. There is a lot of uncertainty related to the carbon offset markets, and thats why we chose Compensate as our partner. They are sharp and ambitious and take actively part in the conversation related to the problems of offsetting. You can see the compensation projects on their website. Since there is always uncertainty involved in offsetting, we appreciate that they overcompensate to ensure that the carbon is actually reduced from the atmosphere.

We do realise that the first action point is to avoid and reduce emissions. The point is not to greenwash our operations with carbon offsets and declare ourselves carbon neutral. Instead, we have a pure will to do something right now before our reduction measures start having some impact. Although the opinions regarding offsets are divided, it is at least a good motivator for us to actually reduce our footprint.

From measuring to reducing

Although calculating and reporting the carbon footprint is a fun activity and creates a new job here in the homeland, we would rather not do this thing at all. Therefore, our goal is to stop emitting altogether. We aim to halve our own emissions during the next four years and then do the same trick with the whole supply chain. What we cannot reduce, we will continue compensating for to be able to say we have reached net zero emissions.

We didn’t pull this goal out of thin air. It is based on the scientific assessment of what this kind of a company’s carbon footprint should look like to be able to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial times by 2100. This number is where we should end up to avoid the worst disaster. We reached the 1-degree marker already in 2017, and right now we are heading towards several degrees warmer.

To succeed in fixing this mess, we of course also need others to join the battle on the side of the good guys.

If unethicality interests you, we have more reading material about our irresponsibility work available.