What is climate (change) education and how do companies benefit from it?

Corporate climate education

Klimabildung im Unternehmen
Glacier Teamfotos Wien Studio Matphoto34of118

Julia Widmann

Content Marketing Manager

The necessity to successfully implement climate protection measures in one's own company is constantly growing in view of the advancing climate crisis and regulatory requirements such as the EU taxonomy. This implementation of climate protection measures is supported by all levels in the company, both by the management and by the employees. In order to make this possible, however, knowledge is needed about why climate protection must be implemented in the company and how this implementation can take place. Climate education, or climate change education in the company, starts exactly at this point and enables companies to successfully set up and implement solution strategies for their own CO2 savings. But what exactly is climate education and how do companies benefit from it? That’s what we explain here.

What is climate (change) education?

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) attributes a key role to education in climate protection. Education is instrumental in both raising awareness of the magnitude of the climate crisis and integrating solution strategies.

Climate change education, as designated by the UNFCCC, is considered an important pillar of environmental education and goes hand in hand with education on sustainable development and eco-social competence. Laura Vinuela, environmental technician at the UNFCCC, describes formal education as a tool to create understanding of the climate crisis and to identify opportunities for more sustainable behaviour. This more sustainable behaviour includes changing consumption and production patterns, participating in policy-making and purposefully promoting low-emission, climate-resilient societies and sustainable development.

Why is climate education needed in the company?

Climate education is the foundation of any climate-active corporate transformation. Employee behaviour, technical equipment, climate awareness at management level, resource management, etc. - The savings potential of companies includes every decision made within the company, from the commute of employees to the choice of food in the canteen. Generating knowledge about emission sources and saving measures creates the possibility to identify and minimise emissions in one's own company.

Briefing: Scope 3 emissions

The most emission-intensive processes are found in the upstream and downstream value chain of companies. These are indirect emissions that nevertheless fall back on the company.

The GHG Protocol, the most widely used international calculation tool for greenhouse gas emissions, classifies these indirect emissions in category 3, which is why they are also called Scope 3 emissions. These include, for example:

  • Services
  • Waste disposal
  • Transport and delivery
  • Investments
  • Commuters

Scope 3 has the highest emission levels of most companies, but it is also the most difficult to measure. Therefore, climate education is needed to develop expertise in this area and to facilitate the process of saving in the company. And the areas of Scope 1 (emissions caused directly by the company) and Scope 2 emissions (emissions caused indirectly through electricity consumption, etc.) also have great savings potential.

Climate education as a foundation for savings measures

According to a study by Bitkom, companies can save around 20% of their CO2 emissions through digital technologies, for example. In order to successfully implement these savings measures in the company, it is first and foremost necessary that the entire workforce understands the necessity of such measures. This is where climate education comes in. It covers both the basics, which provide a general understanding of the climate crisis, tipping points, emissions in the company, the need for action, etc., as well as more in-depth knowledge and skills on climate protection in various departments and on concrete savings measures. The motto here is: "Every job is a climate job".

How do companies benefit from climate education?

Climate education not only benefits the environment, but also creates opportunities for companies, both financially, in competition and in terms of employee motivation.

Financial benefits of climate education for companies

Due to increasing national and international regulatory requirements, such as the EU taxonomy set by the European Commission, companies will be confronted even more strongly with their actions in terms of climate protection in the future, and will feel both financial and economic consequences if climate protection is not a pillar of the corporate philosophy. Implementing climate protection measures is an additional effort, but in the long run it avoids costs such as high CO2 taxes and allows companies to survive in the market.

If the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement are not achieved, it is not the regulations but the climate crisis itself that will demand immense financial losses from companies. A study by Deloitte and SORA shows that in Austria alone, the "worst case" scenario defined in the study, a global warming of 3 degrees, would result in the loss of "around 90 to 100 billion euros in economic output and a potential of 0.7 to 0.9 million jobs by 2070".

Furthermore, the reduction of Scope 3 emissions has the potential for energy efficiency and cost reduction in the value chain of companies.

Climate education and employee engagement

The working atmosphere can also benefit from climate protection. Studies show that 70% of employees attach great importance to sustainability in their own company and that this contributes to their well-being and motivation. Furthermore, through the direct training of employees, the climate-active change process in the company is supported by all levels and employees are offered transparency and participation in the process of transformation.

In summary, this means:

Implementing climate education in a company is an extra effort, but it benefits not only the environment, but also the company. In the long run, costs are avoided, companies remain in the market and the motivation of employees increases.

Every company will be affected by the climate crisis, whether by regulations or by the consequences of climate change. However, the consequences of the regulations are much milder than those of the climate crisis. Through climate education, companies create the foundation for successful business transformation, and can subsequently make the necessary contribution to meeting climate goals.

Glacier Climate Academy

Is there still a need for climate protection training in your company? Our Glacier Climate Academy offers climate education ranging from the basics to specialised sector-specific knowledge. Click here to go to the Academy.

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