Becoming Carbon Literate: A Climate Education

By Faith Taylor, Global Sustainability Officer, Kyndryl

The world is reaching an inflection point when it comes to climate investing. Motivated by a variety of factors, including clients, shareholders, employees, and investors, organisations are making changes. For example, over 130 countries have signed up for Net Zero targets and almost 4000 companies are using the science based targets initiatives to meet their net zero goals. Not only this but a recent report found that more than 90% of S&P 500 companies now publish ESG reports in some form. However, despite the efforts that have been made, we still have a very long way to go. For example, only around a third of UK businesses had an environmental sustainability policy in place at the end of last year.

As a leader of sustainability at Kyndryl, I’ve devoted my career to educating big businesses on the importance of embracing and committing to corporate responsibility. For over 15 years now, I’ve committed to building a programme from the ground up. However, it’s not just down to business leaders – everyone needs to play their part in driving this change and reducing carbon usage.

We all have a part to play

Unfortunately, there are hurdles to jump at every turn. One such barrier is the myth and deeply damaging narrative that as individuals, our actions won’t make a difference and that there’s nothing we can do to help. This simply isn’t true, and we all hold more power than most people realise. At Kyndryl, we have a history of implementing energy efficiency programmes across 260 data centres in 54 countries. The final goal is to improve sustainability and profitability.

Purpose over profits

The good news is that shifting consumer priorities are helping to build sustainable products and services. In fact, it seems that both employees and consumers are starting to care about the environment in an actionable manner.

With regards to employees, the last two years have dramatically shaken up the labour market, with a record number of job vacancies helping to fuel The Great Resignation. With the workforce firmly sat in the driving seat, employees are increasingly able to demand change within their organisations. For example, a study from earlier this year found that 77% of respondents wanted more transparency from their employer on environmental impact.

Organisations must practice what they preach

In the deeply connected, digital world we live in, it’s no surprise that news travels at lightning speed via social media and other online platforms. In light of this, transparently and authentically sharing a company's progress is vitally important as it has a great impact on a company’s reputation. At Kyndryl, we believe it’s important to publicise our commitment to Net Zero and our alignment with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Becoming ‘carbon literate’

Despite the guidance available, for organisations just starting their sustainability journey, it can be difficult to know where to begin. It can be particularly tricky for small businesses that may not have the financial or operational resources to hire a dedicated sustainability person or appoint an employee who is solely focused on developing projects and making the company more sustainable.

At Kyndryl, we think it’s important to promote sustainable thinking across all sides of the business. Therefore, as part of our ESG strategy and journey to Net Zero, we’re working closely with The Carbon Literacy Trust to facilitate the learning of our employees and help them (and the wider organisation) to demonstrate their commitment to the environment and society. Our goal is that by undertaking our Carbon Literacy training, employees will feel empowered to contribute, both personally and professionally.

The importance of organisations implementing these kinds of programmes cannot be understated. After all, education is the first step on the road to sustainability.

Climate change is undoubtedly one of the biggest single agenda items on the world stage. Therefore, the response must not be delayed, and it is up to everyone to play their part on a global platform together.

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