Achieving Carbon Neutrality at theprintspace

June 21, 2019

Vatnajökull glacier, Iceland

As of the 1st July 2019 theprintspace is a carbon neutral business. This means where we can we minimise our energy usage and use suppliers of renewable energy. Where unavoidable, we offset all of our carbon emissions by investing in renewable energy projects.

Through our reading and investigation on the subject it is clear we are in grave danger of triggering feedback loops in the near future, and therefore being unable to reverse global warming. For example in a peer reviewed paper submitted by 16 climate scientists to the PNAS journal, they state that ‘….even if the Paris Accord target of a 1.5 °C to 2.0 °C rise in temperature is met, we cannot exclude the risk that a cascade of feedbacks could push the Earth System irreversibly onto a “Hothouse Earth” pathway.’ 

So what are the implications of Hothouse Earth? The paper delves into the effects and states the following: ‘Hothouse Earth is likely to be uncontrollable and dangerous to many, particularly if we transition into it in only a century or two, and it poses severe risks for health, economies, political stability (especially for the most climate vulnerable), and ultimately, the habitability of the planet for humans.’

Some climate scientists now think the climate models are too conservative and these feedback loops could be triggered much faster than first thought. In any case, the evidence of warming is clearly beyond doubt, the last 5 years have been the hottest on record. Yet in the last 10 years as awareness has been growing, we have not made a dent on the rate of greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, carbon emissions are increasing. 

So the danger of not acting now is very serious. As climate is a complex adaptive system, it is hard-to-impossible to truly understand how and when tipping points will occur and what their effect will be. As complex adaptive systems exhibit a property known as ‘sensitive dependence on initial conditions’ (commonly referred to in the media as ‘the butterfly effect’) it is simply not possible to understand the magnitude or immediacy of the threat. We need to act with extreme urgency to avoid the distinct possibility that we will unleash the force of runaway global warming which we will be unable to control.

There is a sliver of good news. Not much, but enough to remain hopeful if we act collectively and decisively. The technology already exists to get to zero emissions and cost-wise, solar energy is now as cheap or cheaper than any fossil fuel (although admittedly the storage problem raises the cost, though that storage issue only kicks in when we are using solar for all our daytime/ summer energy usage and nuclear power could be useful help to bridge that gap to reduce the battery infrastructure costs When a company goes carbon neutral part of what it does is offset currently unavoidable CO2 emissions by investing in renewable energy projects, which is how we can help.

Solar One power plant, Nevada

“The climate crisis is real and immediate. Until companies start changing we don’t have a hope of achieving a sustainable society. At theprintspace it’s fair to say we have had a massive realisation that this problem is so urgent that it requires everyone to act immediately. As Greta Thunberg says, I don’t want your hope, I want you to panic.”Stuart Waplington, CEO

At theprintspace we have had our carbon emissions assessed by Carbon Footprint, an independent specialist company. You can read this here. This assessment included all the energy we use, including the energy used in the deliveries and the energy used for our staff to get to work. Over the past year we have also worked at ensuring the materials we use to produce and package orders are as plastic free as possible or recyclable/biodegradable. You can read more on this here.

As recommended by Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and WWF UK, we use the Gold Standard to offset our carbon emissions. These three organisations make clear that offsetting does not reduce overall emissions, so purchasing offsets should be used once all other options for reducing or avoiding emissions are explored. They also point out that governments and large corporations are manipulating the offset framework to argue legislation is not needed to curb their emissions. In other words, the purchasing of carbon offsets by certain organisations is being used to justify zero change to their polluting behaviour.

As a business, we believe this is simply not good enough and recognise that to solve this crisis the real change falls on our collective attitude. This is why we are following the guidance of Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and WWF UK by purchasing offsets through Gold Standard, as they ensure a transparent, internationally recognised benchmark for high quality carbon offset projects.

Gold Standard wind power project, Rajasthan

It is our policy to not use forestry-based carbon offsetting projects, instead we invest in renewable energy projects. This is in line with Greenpeace guidance. The project we have first invested in is a 22.5MW Wind Power project in Rajasthan, India. This wind power project has an important role in reducing CO2 emissions as well as its investment in the development and education of the local community. It currently generates 45 GWh of clean electricity annually – the equivalent of powering 10,500 households every year.

“We have chosen a wind power project in Rajasthan as the first project to give funds to. Investing in renewable energy projects in countries that might find it hard to afford to move to a carbon free economy is a focus of ours. After all, a carbon free economy needs to happen everywhere, so there has never been a better time to ditch the cult of individualism both at a national and a personal level.” Stuart Waplington, CEO

We understand carbon offsets are a first step, not a solution. The current cost for us is 0.25% of our annual revenue. The UN’s IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) thinks it will cost the planet 2.5% of global GDP to stay under the 1.5 degree warming level. So, we recognise that for theprintspace, our achieving carbon neutrality is just the first step and that much more needs to be done to reach that 2.5% marker.

It would be nice to think that governments might act on this but so far they have proved woefully unable to grasp the seriousness of the task. They talk about what is possible rather than what is absolutely necessary. When a brilliant 16 year old girl, Greta Thunberg, and many other children and young adults like her are ahead of our politicians we know we can no longer rely on the current generation of politicians to act responsibly and intelligently.

It’s clear we must bypass governments and that is where you, the consumer, and businesses like us need to pick up the slack. In the coming weeks we will be announcing some exciting ways in which you can get involved with us – stay tuned!

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