4 ways to reduce your environmental footprint whilst working from home - COVID-19 blog | Deloitte Australia has been saved
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Every cloud has a silver lining, or in the case of the COVID-19 pandemic, a green one. From satellite images of vanishing pollution in China, to unprecedented sightings of the Himalayas, to dolphins in the Venice canals, the positive environmental impact of the coronavirus crisis has not gone unnoticed. In fact, the scientific community is anticipating the largest ever annual fall in CO2 emissions in 2020, more than during any previous economic crisis or period of war.
As we stay at home to help flatten the curve, our own travel-related carbon footprint has plummeted.
Let’s look at some examples. A colleague who used to drive 25 kilometres to the Perth office has been working from home this past month. In doing so, they have reduced their carbon footprint by 155kg CO2e — the equivalent to charging 20,000 smartphones!
Reduced public transport has also made a huge impact. For example, everyone who isn’t hopping on the tram for a daily 5 kilometre commute into and back from the Melbourne CBD office reduced their carbon footprint by up to 13kg CO2e in four weeks.
As for business air travel, back-of-envelope calculations based on the firm’s historical travel data suggests that we’ve saved 8,000 flights and 10 million kilometres of air travel—or over 1,000 metric tons of CO2e—this past month alone.
These are rather exhilarating and eye opening stats.
Now, as you’d expect, there is significant debate about the extent to which this reduction in carbon emissions will be sustained after COVID-19. Regardless of what the future holds, we have the opportunity to build on this momentum to introduce more sustainable practices inside our homes. This is all the more important as the sanitary imperatives of COVID-19 have driven regression in other sustainability areas, such as single-use plastics and packaging.
We asked our Deloitte Climate Action Champions Network to share their tips and recommendations for reducing our environmental footprint from home:
1. At your desk
Fact: The energy consumption of digital technologies accounts for c.4% of worldwide carbon emission and is expected to double by 2025 to reach 8%. The use of digital technology accounts for 55% of its energy consumption, compared to 45% for the production of equipment.
2. In the kitchen
Fact: Livestock provides just 18% of calories but takes up 83% of farmland and produces 60% of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions.
3. In the garden/on the balcony
Fact: If food waste were a country, it would be the third biggest global greenhouse gas emitter after China and the United States.
4. At the source
Fact: At 0.82kgCo2e/kwh, Australia’s grid has one of the highest emissions intensity in the world due to the number of coal-fired generators. For comparison, the UK’s emission intensity is 0.22kgCo2e/kWh.
Why not use the spare time at home to make household and administrative changes that will have an enduring impact on your carbon footprin
Want to find out more
1. Calculate your ecological footprint to understand how many planets we would need if everybody lives like you (and what you might want to do about it…)
2. Consult this recent study to target changes in your household consumption with the highest potential for climate change mitigation of household consumption options. Top 10 are all transport, electricity and diet related.
The firm’s Climate Action Program is working across the firm’s footprint, voice, and market offerings to reduce the firm and our clients’ carbon footprint for a more sustainable future.
 Assumptions used: 50km daily car journey, 5 days a week, 154g CO2 passenger km (source https://chartingtransport.com/category/greenhouse-gas-emissions/)
 Based on FY19 Deloitte Australia Operational Sustainability Data
Elodie is a senior consultant in the Monitor Deloitte strategy practice. Elodie’s experience to date involves working across the private, public and not-for-profit sectors in the UK and Australian markets, helping organisations to refresh their strategy, realise new growth opportunities and deliver strategic transformations. Elodie specialises in helping businesses tie business performance with societal outcomes by embedding sustainability at the core of their business strategy and core operations, pursuing new models of “profit with purpose”. Passionate about climate change and sustainability, Elodie is part of Deloitte’s Climate Action Advisory Council and actively involved in the firm’s Bushfire and Climate Action Programs.