The Meaning Behind Carbon Neutrality and Business Transformation
Date: January 5th 2021
Author: Alenka Lena Klopčič
What is ‘carbon neutrality’ and what do we talk about when we talk about this concept? What do we mean when we say ‘business transformation’ and why pursue it at all? These were just some of the questions discussed by carbon neutrality expert and founder and director of the Slovenian energy management company Next Move Energy, Nina Bračko Colja, and the founder and director of the innovative Slovenian consulting firm Transformation Lighthouse, Urška Jež, in Energetika.NET’s first video debate of 2021. The two experts agreed that both the path to carbon neutrality and the business transformation path are chosen by companies with forward-thinking leaders. They both see the future set out by the EU, as Jež put it, “in an absolutely positive light”.When it comes to carbon neutrality, we must first ask ourselves what it actually means, so that there is no misuse of the term, said carbon neutrality expert and founder and director of Next Move Energy, Nina Bračko Colja, who sees carbon neutrality as an actual result of concrete measures.
Asked about the concrete measures that a company can take to achieve carbon neutrality, Bračko Colja explained that this relates to the calculation of the carbon footprint, in which we look at the emissions produced directly by using energy products, as well as the emissions created indirectly through business processes and the operation of the company and its employees. Carbon neutrality can be achieved quite swiftly by calculating the consumption of all the energy products and the related emissions and then offsetting the carbon footprint in different ways, explained Bračko Colja, adding that two further steps are the internal monitoring of emissions and constantly considering environmental investment.
As she noted, companies are now being forced, or at least encouraged, to pursue carbon neutrality due to current carbon prices, as well as by their business partners and the buyers of specific companies that focus on reducing their carbon footprint, thereby boosting their reputation in the market.
From (real) carbon neutrality to a (comprehensive) business transformation
So what do we mean when we say ‘business transformation’? As noted by Jež, the term refers to the comprehensive transformation of a company’s business culture with the aim of understanding and addressing future challenges. She added that if a company decides to digitalise, this does not automatically mean that it has undergone a full transformation, as a transformation is based on a change in culture as a whole, including the people. Even the issue of innovation should not be addressed independently, she added, as people need to work towards a unified and common company goal.
According to the expert, a business transformation is a necessary precondition if these companies are to survive in the market, adding that we should all be more aware of the need to change our operations and businesses, and even our way of living. It seems that if environmental issues do not affect us directly, we do not address them (actively enough), said Jež. She agreed with Bračko Colja that – similarly as in the case of carbon neutrality – companies will be forced into sustainable operations and the resulting transformation by external pressure, starting with buyers.
We only start making changes once the threat is at our door, but unfortunately, this realisation always comes too late, added Jež. Additionally, the two experts agreed that both the path to carbon neutrality and the business transformation path are chosen by companies with forward-thinking leaders. Both experts therefore see the future – and the EU’s plan to reach carbon neutrality by mid-century – in a positive light.
Action will also be demanded by the young, noted Jež. Bračko Colja agreed, adding that it is not enough to think about self-contained solutions, such as the intention to meet all our energy needs using nothing but renewable energy sources – as even this creates certain materials that need to be disposed of. Even biomass, for example, is not a fully carbon-free source. Instead, we should consider the widest possible effects and implications (including environmental) of all the solutions. A holistic approach is also the only suitable one when talking about a business transformation, concluded Jež.
Click the link below to watch the entire video debate in which Nina Bračko Colja and Urška Jež further discuss the (energy) business of the future.
The video debate is available HERE (in Slovenian only).
This article is available also in Slovene.
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