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Passion for the planet

After ten years at Toshiba heading up the marketing function and championing its Carbon Zero scheme, sustainability trailblazer Jeremy Spencer, is looking ahead to a bright green future

After mulling the concept over for a couple of years, this summer Spencer took a leap of faith and set up his own carbon rebalancing company Gaia Together. The company’s mission is simple and straightforward: to work with businesses to develop innovative carbon management strategies that measure, mitigate and offset carbon footprints through a range of socio economic and carbon reduction projects that address all the key areas of carbon management.

“After a decade running Toshiba’s programme, and having seen first-hand the positive impact that a range of projects have had on real peoples’ lives, I’ll be honest, it really got under my skin. I’ve got a lot of experience and knowledge in this area, and I’m excited to work with many more organisations helping them to realise the benefits of running a business that has sustainability at its heart,” he said.

One of the biggest drivers for making his dream a reality was the massive (positive) impact on CO2 emissions as a result of the UK-wide lockdown earlier this year. Reports suggest that emissions are set to decrease by four per cent to seven per cent this year (source: The Great Disrupter, The Economist, September 17 2020).

Combat climate change
Under the Paris Agreement, countries worldwide pledged to combat climate change and to accelerate and intensify the actions and investments needed for a sustainable low carbon future. “It’s clear that if we are to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050, everyone has to step up and not undo the good that was done when the world temporarily shut down,” Spencer said.

“If there is one positive to come out of the pandemic, it has to be that sustainability has come much more to the fore. We all have a shared responsibility to look after our planet. What we’re doing is helping businesses to understand the impact of their operations and to take steps to mitigate where possible or offset the remainder.”

Spencer believes that tighter regulations will force businesses to do more to address their environmental impact. “The thresholds for mandatory reporting of impacts will come down and we will move from voluntary offsetting to compulsory action. It’s not just for big corporates, every business has a part of play. Not doing anything is simply not an option anymore.”

Measure, mitigate and offset
Gaia Together provides a full end to end environmental assessment to calculate a client’s carbon footprint. This includes energy and other resources associated with buildings, travel, procurement, manufacturing, through to emissions as a result of product deliveries and even daily use.

This assessment identifies the key sources of emissions and importantly potential areas where savings can be made to mitigate a company’s environmental impact. Audits comply with internationally recognised standards, including: PAS 2060:2010 Specification for the demonstration of carbon neutrality, PAS 2050:2011 Specification for the assessment of the life cycle greenhouse gas emissions of goods and services and Greenhouse Gas Protocol Product Life Cycle Accounting and Reporting Standard 2011.

Carbon emissions are then offset through a number of community-based projects that improve the quality of life for local people and help to protect the ecosystem services which they depend upon. Gaia Together manages the schemes and certifies that the organisation is carbon-neutral.

Safe Water
Safe Water

Examples include:
*Safe Water: Supports rural villages in developing nations with no access to clean water sources. Typically, unclean water carries a high number of diseases and must be boiled to make it safe, creating harmful emissions in the process.
*Solar: Supplying solar lamps to replace kerosene lights is a high impact initiative that supports education and learning – enabling children to study in the evenings safely.

Rhino Sanctuary
Rhino Sanctuary

*Mangrove: Fast growing and incomparably capable of storing large amounts of carbon, mangrove forests thrive in salty waters where the root systems form a barrier against soil erosion and provide a haven for wildlife and livelihood opportunities.
*Rhino Sanctuary: Gaia Together’s safe water project in Uganda has partnered with the Rhino Fund Uganda, located in the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary.