The story behind the new Climate Action Toolbox

By Phil Jones

The new Climate Action Toolbox is the result of a collaboration led by the Sustainable Business Network that started midway through last year. Phil Jones, who heads the team, recalls how the project started and sets a big goal for the next year.

Addressing the climate change challenge has been a part of what SBN has done for many years. Until recently, our approach was to incorporate climate action within our various work streams but, as the number of organisations contacting us for advice on what they could/should be doing increased, we recognised the need to do more in this space.

The question was, where should we focus our efforts? While there is a decent amount of climate change resources for business, a lot of it is better suited to larger organisations. Meanwhile, smaller businesses continue to face a range of barriers to their involvement (cost, time, knowledge gaps to name a few). Given that 90% of our network is made up of non-corporates we determined that this was where we could add the best value back to our network, as well as to Aotearoa overall.

After consulting with more than 40 small to medium-sized business owner-managers, and sustainable business experts, we published our background report Climate Action 20/25: Accelerating Climate Action by New Zealand SMEs in May 2020. The report looked at the challenges and opportunities for smaller businesses and outlined the Climate Action 20/25 programme.

After identifying what was needed, we were delighted to secure funding with six organisations that shared our vision – EECA, Waka Kotahi (NZ Transport Agency), NZ Trade & Enterprise, BNZ, Meridian Energy, and the business.govt.nz unit at Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. Business.govt.nz provided the award-winning platform for hosting the online tool. DNA then signed up to be our design partner.

As a group we believe climate action needs to be integrated into the way we do business in Aotearoa. Therefore it was decided that it was key for the toolbox to be free, open to all, and focused on making it easy for a large number of diverse organisations to start taking immediate climate action.

Most other carbon tools are designed to measure emissions and usually provide ways to offset them. Measuring is a valuable step, but it isn’t attractive for many businesses. The toolbox includes information and links about measuring your carbon footprint, but our focus was on providing ways to help businesses reduce emissions.

The toolbox includes more than 40 actions for reducing emissions over five key areas – transporting people, transporting goods, office operations, site operations and equipment, and the design and making of products. For every action we researched and wrote a step-by-step guide and, where useful, linked to more details. We also talked to Kiwi businesses already taking climate action so we could share their stories to inspire others. Future updates of the toolbox will provide more sector-specific information and actions.

More than 900 users checked out the new Climate Action Toolbox on the day it was launched last week. It starts with a simple assessment to identify the key areas for carbon reductions. Our goal is to have at least 10,000 organisations complete the assessment in the first year. You can help by sharing the toolbox with everyone in your own network. And, if you work for a larger business, we encourage you to share it with the many smaller businesses that are your customers and suppliers.

To learn more about using the toolbox to help your business reduce emissions, view the recording of our free webinar. We’ll also be running a series of online workshops, called CO2 Labs, to show you how to get the very best out of the toolbox. Keep an eye out for details about them coming soon.