Celebrating Earth Day with plans for a greener future
2020 was an extraordinary year. As the enormity of the pandemic became clear, we saw mass restriction of movement to minimize the spread of Covid-19, teams of scientists work at unprecedented speeds to create vaccines and people pull together to navigate the crisis; in an incredible demonstration of what we as humans can achieve. However, as the world slowly starts turning again, this year’s Earth Day is a vital reminder that as we leave the Covid crisis behind, there is still a pressing issue that needs to be addressed with a similar urgency – the environment and the climate emergency.
Virtually every country in the world is already feeling the impact of global warming, caused in large part by greenhouse gas emissions. From fires across Australia, to rising sea levels and increasing hurricanes, we’re already feeling the effects and without action the problem will only get worse.
The next 10 years
In 2018, the UN published a report warning that unless carbon emissions fall by 45% by 2030, the most severe effects of climate change are yet to come. The report stated that the years between now and 2030 would be essential in tackling and protecting the world from climate change and that every country, business, and individual has a role to play. Without this effort, we can expect increased risk of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.
This led to the Paris Agreement and as part of this, a UN initiative calling for businesses to pledge an ambition to make tangible changes to their carbon footprint that would limit global temperature rises to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and at RFS we are proud to be fully committed to this initiative.
The manufacturing problem
It is especially important for us at RFS to ensure that we are working to minimize our carbon footprint, in particular at our manufacturing facilities around the world. Manufacturing accounts for about a third (29.7%) of global greenhouse gas emissions. Although it is the manufacture of construction materials like steel and cement that are the biggest contributors, all those in the manufacturing industry need to reflect on the way they work and how this must change to protect the planet.
What is RFS doing?
The RFS factories have had ISO14001 Environmental certification for some time. We have policies and procedures in place to ensure that we comply with relevant environmental legislation and take steps to reduce our impact on the environment. But this isn’t enough. At RFS we’re also continually monitoring the areas where change can have a real impact on our carbon footprint without impacting the quality of service we are delivering to our customers. These initiatives range from installing solar panelling on facilities in Australia, to changing equipment to minimize wastage. In addition, changes such as moving to energy efficient alternatives to traditional factory lighting are part of a concerted effort to minimize our environmental impact.
The bigger benefits
By midway through 2021, we will have conducted an in-depth audit of our carbon footprint; from the emissions due to employee commuting, to a better understanding of our suppliers’ environmental impact. This big picture will then help us identify the quick wins and the longer-term opportunities that will make us a 1.5ºC compliant business. This brings with it two big benefits for RFS and its customers. Firstly, a greener operating model that contributes to a future that isn’t impacted by the consequences of further global warming. Not only this, but there is evidence that companies that succeed in achieving 1.5ºC will be best-placed to succeed as net-zero carbon emission organizations become the norm by 2050.
We have spent the past year wishing for a return to normality, but this particular day in the calendar seems a good opportunity to reflect that a return to pre-pandemic life is not good enough. The response to the pandemic shows what can be achieved with unified, global commitment and points to what needs to be done to limit the impact of the world’s next great crisis – climate change. Like many of our customers and partners we’re working to ensure RFS is part of positive change and that we attack the issue of climate change with the commitment and conviction that our world needs.
If you’re interested to hear more about what RFS is doing to reduce carbon emissions, get in touch with Neil Gibson, 1.5°C Climate Ambition Project Manager at RFS.