Gaia blog

Handprint Matters

22.05.2020

An “old” Chinese saying says: One who thinks a single person can’t change the world has never eaten a poorly cooked bat in Wuhan. Here’s why we must care about our handprint.

Finland accounts for a small fraction of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. It would be easy to think of us and our carbon footprint as an insignificant mosquito in the global climate change combat arena. However, nothing could be further from the truth, if we take a different perspective.

Carbon handprint reflects the reduction of emissions resulting from a product or service. For example, a company providing virtual meeting solutions enables another company to reduce its flying and thereby its carbon footprint.

Linking carbon handprint with economic success

In 1995, the economist Michael Porter presented his hypothesis: “strict environmental regulations can induce efficiency and encourage innovations that help improve commercial competitiveness”. In other words, GHG reducing solutions are needed everywhere in the world and countries that set up the right momentum for developing such are the clear winners. For example, China now dominates the global solar PV market, whereas Denmark is the cradle of modern wind energy. The carbon handprint of companies such as Trina Solar and Vestas is enormous thanks to induced innovations in the right fields.

This is just the start. Climate change mitigation and adaptation present colossal business potential for the decades to come. New solutions are needed in every industry starting from metals and food to aviation and clothing. Resource efficiency, hydrogen economy, process electrification, nanomaterials, power-to-X, energy storage, biofuels, CCU, digitalization, afforestation and shared economy are just some of the merely untapped fountains of hope for reducing emissions.

How do you measure a carbon handprint and apply it for business?

We at Gaia have had the pleasure of working together with some of the leading Finnish and international companies seeking to measure and enforce their carbon handprint. If done in the right way, carbon handprint provides a meaningful message both internally and externally, which ties into the underlying purpose of the company. More importantly, it feeds directly into the company’s strategy and creates new and better business.

Measuring a carbon handprint needn’t be academic research, but if done transparently and following a defined process it provides a clear and validated result:

  • Firstly, the target and the scope of the study are carefully defined by answering a set of questions to ensure business relevance.
  • Secondly, a credible emission baseline and methodology is set. The methodology also considers rebound-effects, abatement factors and attribution of the effect throughout the supply-chain.
  • Primary and secondary data is then collected based on the scope and methodological choices as well as the desired accuracy level.
  • Lastly, transparent documentation and validation of the calculation process is needed as the backbone of any final numbers presented.

Finland to the rescue

The final and most important step of the process is to drive business growth and new opportunities. As we know, cleaner business is better business. Not just in Finland, but everywhere in the world. So if our climate policy is ambitious enough, Finnish solutions might just save the rest of the planet as well.

Markus Klimscheffskij

Senior Consultant

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