A Glimpse at Climate Neutral

A Glimpse at Climate Neutral

My name is: Austin Whitman.

I’m known for being: Since 2019, I have been the CEO of Climate Neutral, a 501(c)(3) non-profit aiming to accelerate the decarbonization of global emissions through an achievable carbon neutrality certification framework. Climate Neutral is a simple, transparent and credible way for consumers and brands to take climate action. The Climate Neutral Certified label signifies that brands have taken action to measure, offset and reduce their carbon footprint to net-zero emissions.

You can find it at: Climate Neutral was co-founded in 2019 with two goals: (1) engage consumers more effectively in the fight for a lower carbon future through a certified consumer-facing label (2) make carbon-neutrality more accessible to all businesses.

To view the full list of certified brands, you can visit: climateneutral.org/certified-brands. As consumers, keep an eye out for the Climate Neutral Certified label at the point of purchase to support carbon-neutral brands.

What first inspired me to create this was: The important decision to make Climate Neutral a non-profit was rooted in the belief that an independent consumer standard can generate more trust among both consumers and brands. 

First, we wanted to develop a certification framework that felt achievable for all businesses centered around carbon measurement, verifiable offsets and reduction strategies. Every company contributes to climate change, but every company can do something about it. Most companies are surprised when we’re able to break down this complex challenge into a series of manageable steps. 

Next, we wanted to engage consumers in the process because we recognized a noticeable absence around climate-focused consumer movements. We were inspired by other consumer labels that drive positive social change such as USDA Organic. Our Climate Neutral Certified label is an exciting, approachable and positive message brands can use to drive positive climate action.

How it works is:

Our primary target market is with US-based consumers and brands. The majority of US consumers are worried about climate change, but there has been little done to effectively mobilize this consumer base. Through the Climate Neutral Certified label, we hope to engage consumers at the point of purchase, so they can choose to support brands that have achieved zero net carbon emissions.

To achieve certification, brands must measure their carbon footprint, offset the footprint through verified offsets and create future reduction action plans to continue reducing their carbon footprints to net-zero carbon emissions. This can mean certifying a standalone company (e.g. Prima), or a company that lives within a family of companies (e.g. Charlie Banana, a brand within P&G).

So far, we’ve certified 145 brands across 10 industries we’ve identified as: Design + Home, Everyday Essentials, Fashion + Apparel, Food + Beverage, Gear + Lifestyle, Health + Beauty, Media + Photography, Professional Services, Software + Tech, Travel + Transportation.

What makes it special is: 

Few customers realize what the carbon footprint of their beauty products involve—from resourcing, manufacturing, marketing and final sales cycles of the products. Even your daily face cream or mascara has contributed to the 150-year rise in global greenhouse gas emissions.

We hope to give consumers a voice in demanding a new standard for beauty brands to go carbon-neutral. Our certification process is achievable for all brands. You can imagine the impacts on our climate future if each brand takes the steps to offset their carbon footprint. It could be huge. For now, consumers can choose to support brands that have already achieved Climate Neutral certification, like Nécessarie

One thing you can’t miss is:

Our first certification year was a huge success. Now that we’ve proven the concept, we aim to scale. We’ll only make a big difference on climate change when we’ve established that our label is the trusted consumer standard across consumer brands. This year, we are aiming for 250 certified brands. Next year, we’ll aim for 750. We’ll get there faster if more consumers tell brands that this needs to be the new normal.

You can help by:

Visit climateneutral.org/certified-brands and start supporting brands that have achieved the Climate Neutral Certified label. Another great way to get involved is to reach out to companies you’re currently supporting and use your voice to demand they go Climate Neutral. Consumer demand is the backbone of the label.

This is incredibly important for us all, especially in the world right now, because: There is more CO2 collected in the atmosphere now than ever before, with recent estimates showing a record high of 55.5 billion tCO2e in 2018. In order to avoid continuing on this path and facing the tragic impacts of climate change, like more frequent and intense incidents of extreme weather, we need to reduce global greenhouse gases way below current levels, starting immediately.

Political, economic and social systems are not responding quickly enough. We need to work together to achieve a lower-carbon future, and it’s our hope that, through Climate Neutral, we can engage both consumers and brands in the fight against climate change.

Image Via Benjamin

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