A-Z of Sustainability: A Software for Legal Carbon Compliance
There is a growing need to adopt a new set of Sustainable Development Goals that aim to “Transform the World”. Change comes with collective effort, mutual understanding and knowledge toward specific goals.
Despite the UN and other international organisations making crucial decisions, the result is far from expected. It made me wonder what it is that we are falling short on? Is it the lack of interest or lack of awareness?
That’s when I had a eureka moment, and it suddenly started to make all sense. Many people don’t know the complicated terms and references that are used when we talk about sustainability. The idea inspired me to create a new series called “The ABCs of Sustainability Development”. I hope that this series of blogs is well received and serves its purpose. This week I want to talk about ecological and social justice in business-to-business sustainability. The conversation about sustainability has been increasingly becoming part of the mainstream, leading to many changes in consumer attitudes and business practices, along with changes in mandated sustainability compliance practices. With the push for sustainable business practices coming even from the UN (which has outlined global partnership as the road to sustainable development in trade), let us take a closer look into what sustainability in business looks like and what purpose it serves.
With the effects of climate change being rampant across the world, and the causes having been scientifically identified through decades of research, the United Kingdom government has taken several steps in the direction of climate positivity. Our government has committed to achieving a net zero target by decarbonising all sectors of the UK economy by 2050. This is a significant goal, not in the least because carbon is inherent to all the products we consume, all the production that is undertaken in every industry. It is in the waste we produce, the water we discharge, all of which are parts of the environment that are protected by environmental legislation. So it becomes of utmost importance for firms and businesses to use the existing regulatory networks and frameworks so as to affect real change in climate positivity. Actions towards carbon management, carbon reduction, the achievement of net zero and ultimately climate positivity are all going to be founded in environmental legislation. It is through meeting the regulatory requirements of environmental legislation that applies to your specific industry that you can make a tangible contribution towards achieving our country’s larger goal of decarbonisation in a sustainable manner through holistic, and not superficial strategic changes in policy and operations.
At the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, commonly referred to as COP26, the United Kingdom has set up several legal operative frameworks, some mandatory and some voluntary. Schemes like Streamlined Energy Carbon Reporting and the UK Trading Emissions Scheme are mandatory to ensure that businesses are required to report their emission levels, maintain a degree of transparency and to also be able to cap emission levels for companies in specific industries. Meanwhile, there are also voluntary frameworks and accreditations that businesses can choose to seek out to achieve.
When legal compliance with these frameworks is enforced, it will ensure that environmental effects of business and production-related decisions get taken into consideration during the investment and strategising processes and help move the area to a sustainable industry.
How to combat climate change as a business leader?
An issue that arises in this context is the difficulty of being able to keep track of legal environmental obligations. As the operator or decision maker of the business, even if you were well-intentioned enough to want to fully follow the requirements of such frameworks in order to be environmentally sensitive, there is difficulty in accessing and managing information regarding compliance legislation. Logistically, the process of managing environmental legal regulations and requirements that you have to meet can be a very tedious task requiring a separate specialised consultancy team which would be difficult to maintain and train, and this is not a very feasible solution to address the tangled web of legislation for many companies.
To that end, the program called iCOR is attempting to streamline the accessibility of information regarding environmental legislation in the United Kingdom. The team behind iCOR includes Tamma Carel of Imvelo Ltd and Matt Shaw of Pixel House Media, who have significant experience in environmental legislation. Their goal with the program is to enable auditing and checklists to ensure that companies are following the legislative frameworks and requirements that apply to them.
The program iCOR will focus on developing the full solution to streamlining your business’ approach to environmental legislation by allowing your organisation to self-audit the company site premises and processes against environmental legislation, using an AI-driven, expert-backed, easy-to-understand questionnaire format. The questionnaire responses create bespoke outputs including the following:
- Legal register – a bespoke list of applicable legislation, highlighting an organisation’s positive performance and conformities first. Monthly reviews by an environmental professional will keep the solution up-to-date in line with legislation, regulation and governmental policy developments;
- Non-Conformity Tracker – highlighting where the company isn’t conforming with the law, prioritising where they need to make improvements and ultimately benefiting their organisational resilience, in line with the triple bottom line principles of sustainability for people, planet and profit;
- Action Planner – allowing a site manager to assign actions of improvement and remediation against areas of non-conformity. This encourages multi-disciplinary collaboration within an organisation to jointly solve their legal non-compliances holistically, efficiently and correctly;
- Timeline – a chronological collection of all actions, audits and other events performed on the platform, allowing for trend analysis and an overarching transparency in compliance status that is demonstrable to auditors.
The program allows for all the information being shown to the company dashboard to be specifically relevant and tailored to your own company and your specific needs. This tailoring of information would be done through an initial auditing process that would then lead to the creation of a database of regulatory requirements in a legal register and compliance statements. The audit would therefore completely customise the legal register, without having the additional workforce of a consultant expert team. It would provide you with a holistic overview of the full status of your conformity with regulations at a given moment. The team behind the software will also be regularly available to address specific problems and questions that companies can face in terms of operation and regulatory requirements, therefore providing a well-rounded and consistent solution to the problems of dealing with the nitty-gritty of environmental legislation.
Thus, iCOR will help to ensure that a company is meeting its environmental legislation requirements and therefore not breaking the law. The aim to create competence, awareness and improved communication within organisations, and establish confidence in their compliance status. This is specifically relevant now, in line with the UK Government’s commitment to net-zero, which will be achieved through the regulatory framework considering the whole environment.
How to use iCOR and why should I use it?
The program is expected to be launched soon and the team eventually hopes to expand past environmental safety regulations to also automate auditing of health and safety regulations and any other such regulatory procedures and information. It would offer a year-long subscription for £3,500 that offers, specifically, the audit function, the legal register, the monthly legal register updates, the non-conformity tracker as well as the action planners which provides a function for different managers in different fields whose work cuts across each other regarding maintenance of certain environmental regulations to be able to collaborate on the database and auditing processes.
iCOR is going to be best used by business owners, environmental managers, and people in such offices who are responsible for maintaining and ensuring that the company is in compliance with environmental regulations that apply to them, which, failure to understand or keep track of them, could result in legal prosecution against them and/or generate real environmental harm. Aligned with international frameworks for environmental management, iCOR is designed to provide organisations with confidence in their compliance status — ultimately serving to:
- Being able to demonstrate and evidence compliance against relevant environmental legislation
- Manage and mitigate against the risk of causing pollution or environmental harm
- Meeting the needs and expectations of stakeholders through robust governance and risk management
- Showing progress towards net-zero, sustainable development and triple-bottom-line sustainability for people, the planet and profit
- Increase education, engagement and collaboration amongst teams to improve environmental performance
It would therefore minimise risk for your company on financial, operative, investment and legal fronts. The usage of iCOR will streamline and automate your business’ internal compliance checks for requirements such as the ISO framework and will allow for long-term strategisation in the respect of environmental sustainability policies and practices. Ease of keeping up with environmental legislation coupled with access to resources to further improve and test out strategies in the respect of how environmentally sound they are will make iCOR an extremely useful tool to your business, particularly if you operate in production, livestock, marine industries and other such related fields which result in significant environmental harm and therefore are required to face a lot of environmental legislation.
It is through meeting the regulatory requirements of environmental legislation that applies to each industry sector that organisations can make a tangible contribution towards achieving our country’s larger goal of decarbonisation in a sustainable manner through holistic, and not superficial strategic changes in policy and operations. Beyond simply meeting the baseline legislative requirements, field trials of iCOR have established that its ease of operation and access to key information will encourage organisations to take further initiatives to improve their environmental policies, improving sustainable business performance towards a true net-zero outcome.