By: Rob Hoehn
In 2020, for the first time ever, solar and wind made up the majority of the world’s new power generation. In 2021, the US alone committed to protect 30% of terrestrial and marine ecosystems by 2030. And as of Earth Day this year, more than 30% of the Fortune 500 have made commitments to a carbon-free future.
This kind of change is inspiring, but is also going to require a ton of new ideas and energy so that we can adapt for the regenerative economy and achieve a sustainable future. At IdeaScale, we’ve launched the climate innovation pledge with a goal of getting to a million climate innovation ideas by 2025 in partnership with organizations that are trying to accommodate these enormous sea changes. But what are the biggest areas that organizations need to focus on?
Finding a Path to Carbon Neutrality
Carbon neutrality is only a first step, but it’s an important one for businesses that want to become more sustainable. Working on carbon neutrality will help you better understand your business, its environmental costs and where you can most make a difference. For example, at IdeaScale, when we became carbon neutral, we realized that one of our biggest carbon costs was where we hosted our servers – so we made sure that we were on the most environmentally-friendly servers. This was a choice that impacted our product, our partnerships, and helped us to find new business opportunities. Start by better understanding your business and going neutral.
Understanding Upstream and Downstream Impacts and Taking Action
When someone buys a bottle of soda – there were chemicals sourced to make that plastic, and an end-point for that plastic that dirties our oceans. Organizations need to understand the end-of-life management for everything that they consume and produce. Extending a company’s visibility beyond their particular role in the business world is exciting (it makes us think about new adjacent opportunities), but it also means that we need to do a lot more research and understanding to find out the impact we’re having. When it comes to the GHG Protocol standards, they often refer to these impacts as Scope 1 (direct emissions), Scope 2 (indirect emissions), and Scope 3 (upstream and downstream indirect emissions). Now that you’ve calculated your carbon footprint and understand the three scopes, you can start finding ways to reduce emissions at each level – not just your direct emissions.
Find Out Which Partnerships will Best Serve You in the New Economy
With new challenges comes a whole new series of innovations, businesses, and solutions. Doing research to find out if there’s a new start-up that you can work with or a new line of research that you can invest in will help you meet some of your most pressing sustainability challenges, but also might inspire new adjacent business opportunities. After all, there is a great deal of research that shows that organizations that invest in sustainability will also accelerate their innovation capabilities.
Finding a Path to Carbon Negative
Carbon neutrality means that many businesses are still producing carbon and other pollutants that will stay in our world far past the end of our lifetimes. The most advanced organizations are moving beyond finding balance with their pollution to building a business that cleans up more than it pollutes. Microsoft is one of the larger companies to pledge to go carbon negative, but it is emblematic of a new way of thinking about business that thinks about profits and revenues, as a matter of course, but also about the impacts of their business on the planet and the community. To find more ways to replenish our world rather than simply consume, we’re going to need tons of new ideas that reshape our thinking.
Right now, IdeaScale has just over 12,000 ideas that will help the organizations of today transition into the regenerative future. We need to get to a million. Sign our climate innovation pledge and help us get there.
About the Author
Rob Hoehn is the co-founder and CEO of IdeaScale: the largest open innovation software platform in the world. Hoehn launched crowdsourcing software as part of the open government initiative and IdeaScale’s robust portfolio now includes many other industry notables, such as EA Sports, NBC, NASA, Xerox and many others. Prior to IdeaScale, Hoehn was Vice President of Client Services at Survey Analytics.