Carbon Marketing: Leverage Carbon Accounting to Tell Your Company’s Sustainability Story

After pivoting last year to green tech after nine years leading teams selling digital marketing technology, I’m struck by the similarities in climate tech today compared to the era when digital marketing was just taking hold.

For starters, sustainability leaders are just beginning to grapple with building a tech stack to solve their gaps and challenges (as marketers have for many years with multiple tools for email marketing, social media, lead gen, etc.)

Carbon accounting is the keystone of this emerging sustainability tech stack that marketers can leverage to more effectively communicate their company’s sustainability efforts.  In this blog post, we’ll explore the value of carbon accounting for marketers and how it can work hand in hand with enhancing your company’s sustainability messaging.

Understanding Carbon Accounting

Carbon accounting involves measuring and tracking the greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) associated with a company’s operations, products, and supply chain. It provides a comprehensive view of an organization’s carbon footprint, allowing companies to identify areas where emissions can be reduced and develop strategies to mitigate their impact on the environment. Carbon accounting typically includes Scope 1, Scope 2, and Scope 3 emissions:

  • Scope 1 Emissions: Direct emissions from sources that are owned or controlled by the company, such as fuel combustion in company-owned vehicles and facilities.
  • Scope 2 Emissions: Indirect emissions associated with purchased electricity, heat, or steam consumed by the company.
  • Scope 3 Emissions: Indirect emissions that occur as a result of the company’s activities but are from sources not owned or controlled by the company, such as emissions from the supply chain, business travel, and employee commuting.

By quantifying and reporting these emissions, companies gain valuable insights into their environmental impact and identify opportunities for improvement.

Enhancing Sustainability Messaging

Carbon accounting plays a pivotal role in enhancing a company’s sustainability messaging in several ways:

  • Demonstrating Accountability: By measuring and disclosing their carbon footprint, companies demonstrate accountability for their environmental impact. Transparent reporting of emissions shows a commitment to addressing climate change and fosters trust with consumers, investors, and other stakeholders. 
  • Setting Targets and Goals: Carbon accounting provides the data needed to set meaningful emissions reduction targets and goals. Whether aiming for net-zero emissions or setting more feasible science-based targets, setting clear targets demonstrates a company’s commitment to sustainability and provides a roadmap for taking action.
  • Highlighting Achievements: Carbon accounting enables companies to track progress towards their sustainability goals and celebrate achievements. By showcasing reductions in emissions over time or highlighting initiatives that have led to significant carbon savings, companies can demonstrate tangible results and inspire others to take action.
  • Informing Decision-Making: Carbon accounting data can inform strategic decision-making across the organization. By identifying hotspots of emissions and areas where reductions can be achieved most cost-effectively, companies can prioritize investments in sustainability initiatives that deliver the greatest environmental and financial benefits.
  • Driving Innovation: Understanding their carbon footprint can inspire companies to innovate and develop new products, processes, and technologies that are more environmentally sustainable. By incorporating carbon considerations into product design and supply chain management, companies can reduce emissions while enhancing their competitiveness in the market.

Communicating Effectively

To effectively communicate their carbon accounting efforts and achievements, marketers should:

  • Tell a Compelling Story around sustainability built on data and facts: Craft a narrative that highlights the company’s commitment to sustainability, the journey towards carbon neutrality, and the measurable positive impact of emissions reduction efforts.  And more importantly, back it up and avoid the risk and pitfalls other companies have faced being penalized by the FTC and in all 50 states under their respective unfair business practices and deceptive trade acts.
  • Use Visuals: Utilize infographics, charts, and visuals to present carbon accounting data in an engaging and accessible format. Visual representations can help stakeholders better understand complex information and make the company’s sustainability efforts more relatable.
  • Engage Stakeholders: Engage with investors, employees, customers, supply chain partners and other stakeholders to share insights into the company’s carbon accounting practices and solicit feedback. Building a dialogue around sustainability fosters transparency and strengthens relationships with key stakeholders.

In sum, carbon accounting is a powerful tool that not only helps sustainability officers (and facilities, finance, risk and operations officers as well) accurately track and disclose carbon emissions to respond to client requests and comply with regulatory requirements (i.e. the recent California and SEC rulings), it can help marketers effectively communicate their company’s sustainability efforts and achievements as well. By accurately and verifiably measuring and disclosing your carbon footprint, setting ambitious targets, and sharing progress towards emissions reduction goals, companies can demonstrate leadership in addressing climate change and inspire others to join the journey towards a more sustainable future.

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