Carbon neutrality: a new norm for business resilience?

Each and every human activity generates carbon emissions. Of course, to reduce our individual carbon footprint, we can avoid taking the car when we can ride a bike, have more efficient windows to consume less energy for heating, eat local food and recycle etc. But in the end, we will have a low carbon footprint but not a neutral one. The same applies for companies, on a much bigger scale. So, is carbon neutrality nothing but a construct of the mind or can it become a new norm for business resilience?

More and more companies are proclaiming ambitious plans to reach a low carbon economy, namely by setting science-based targets. They are striving to reduce their carbon emissions by optimizing their production process, designing recyclable products from recycled material, working on energy efficiency, reducing business flights and so on. But still, they will not be carbon neutral.

This is when companies can look at carbon offsets. The good news, indeed, is that ecosystems, like mangrove forests, can store huge amounts of CO2. Moreover, these ecosystems generate direct benefits like increased fish stocks and protection of coastal villages for the most vulnerable communities. Compensation can therefore enable companies go that extra mile towards a carbon neutral footprint while having a social impact.

Voyageurs du Monde, SAP and Danone are in a carbon neutrality journey and have reinvested in the Livelihoods Carbon Fund #2 to meet their carbon offset needs. Through this fund, the companies do not buy carbon credits, but they bear the investment risk together to develop projects they choose and monitor closely. Their return on investment is in the form of certified carbon credits that they receive only if the projects are delivering expected social, economic and environmental impact.

Why have these companies set such a drastic carbon neutrality objective? Is the gain worth the investment? And what is their vision when it comes to offsetting and its purpose?

Eric Soubeiran, Global Nature & Climate Director at Danone, Marcus Wagner, Global Environmental Director at SAP and Lionel Habasque, CEO of Voyageurs du Monde, share insights on the motivations behind their companies’ carbon neutrality commitment

“We invest 7% of our net income in our carbon neutrality each year”,

Lionel Habasque
CEO of Voyageurs du Monde

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“Our ‘Avoid-Reduce-Compensate’ approach is fully embedded in our business strategy”,

Marcus Wagner,
Global Environmental Director at SAP

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“Our projects go beyond carbon offsets”,

Eric Soubeiran,
Global Nature & Climate Director at Danone

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Photo: Hellio-Vaningen.