Can Individual Action Impact Climate Change?

Addressing an environmental and societal issue as massive as climate change can be overwhelming. It often seems that trying to reverse the current warming trend is an impossible task, or that it’s solely the responsibility of governments and large enterprises, with individuals left powerless to make a difference. However,  governments and businesses are all made up of individuals, and each person who commits to taking small steps toward sustainability can help make big collective changes.

Taking action on climate change—both individually and collectively—was the topic of a recent discussion hosted by Iesha Berry, VP, Chief Diversity and Engagement Officer at DocuSign. The session featured expert advice from Patrick Flynn, SVP Sustainability at Salesforce, and Shay Eliaz, Principal with Monitor Deloitte.

Why is climate action necessary? 

The discussion began with the notion that we’re at an environmental tipping point. If we’re going to make positive, sustainable changes, we need immediate action. We are currently consuming the planet’s resources faster than they can regenerate, and this overconsumption is made worse by our many activities that pollute the environment.

Put simply: There’s only one Earth, and we have a moral imperative to care for it, leaving it in a better place than we found it for future generations.

In the UK Climate Change Committee's (CCC) joint recommendations to parliament (2021) it states the need to introduce appropriate regulatory arrangements, rules and guidance for the use of carbon offsetting by UK corporates within their Net Zero strategies.

With sustainability now a priority, businesses need to fundamentally transform how they operate to compete in the marketplace, deliver value to their stakeholders and attract and retain the best talent. The time is right for organisations to make meaningful change and each of us can help.

What individual actions can we take?

Our current climate emergency means immediate action is required to make positive environmental changes. We can all continue to make impactful choices for our planet every day. Doing something is always better than doing nothing. Taking any kind of action can help reset the idea that individuals are too insignificant to make an impact.

Many actions like reducing travel, using cleaner forms of transportation, recycling and going digital may seem small, but they all add up. Even communicating with others about the steps you’re taking can help motivate them. Talk with friends and family. Reach out to the sustainability lead in your organisation. You have the power to make an impact and help spread the word that those around you can make a difference too.

What kinds of green changes can organisations make? 

Thankfully, things are looking up. For too long, businesses have deprioritised, or at least been apprehensive about, committing to the types of fundamental changes needed to make a difference. But now, taking climate action is not only a moral imperative, it’s also a huge business opportunity. 

Organisations can—and should—do more to help the environment by using their greater resources and influence. For example, Salesforce is helping sequester 100 gigatons of carbon by conserving, planting and restoring 1 trillion trees. And they’re now requiring their suppliers to set science-based carbon emission targets, establish a plan for reducing emissions, and deliver their services on a carbon-neutral basis, all while submitting to reporting requirements.

Similarly, Deloitte is committed to using its global reach and influence to help clients transform their operations while addressing its own direct and indirect emissions. One way they are doing this is by cutting employee travel in half while making the company’s global real estate footprint more renewable and sustainable.

DocuSign pioneered e-signature technology and is now helping customers fully digitise their end-to-end contract and agreement processes, reducing waste and wasteful actions. DocuSign reached carbon neutrality and 100 percent renewable energy use across operations in 2022.

All three organisations are deeply committed to digital transformation, a key driver of sustainable business operations.

What role does digital transformation play? 

The technologies needed to take bold climate action already exist. Organisations are starting to use renewable energy sources to power their buildings and data centres and implement digital communication tools to enable remote and hybrid workforces.

The way businesses and customers come together in agreement is another area ripe for transformation. Contracts undergird and formalise how business gets done. Digitising and automating these processes is essential for individuals and organisations looking to make a positive climate impact.

As we come together to confront this challenge, digital transformation serves as a foundational action for reducing emissions by replacing inefficient processes like paper-based agreements and in-person interactions.

Agreements define relationships between individuals, organisations, suppliers, customers, partners and governments. All of us—individuals and institutions alike—must work in agreement to tackle the task of repairing our relationship with our planet.

Act now

To learn more about this critically important topic, and how can actively implement more sustainable practices into your organisation  download this eBook - Building Sustainability into the Modern Landscape

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