#SustainablePublicAffairs goes carbon neutral

To misquote JFK: Ask not what your planet can do for you - ask what you can do for your planet. An interview with Kai Landwehr from myclimate.

Our vision at #SustainablePublicAffairs is to become the most sustainable public affairs agency in the world. That does not only mean our climate-positive impact lobbying that we do on behalf of our sustainable frontrunning clients: it also applies to our own operations.

That is why we are happy to announce that #SustainablePublicAffairs has become the first CO2-neutral public affairs firm in Brussels. Thanks to our new cooperation with myclimate, you can rest assured that your purchase of PA services is carbon neutral.

We talked to the very cool Head of Marketing at myclimate, a company that has focused on offsetting emissions since 2002. Kai Landwehr told us about his own journey towards the environmental industry, carbon offsetting and the biggest challenges in this exciting field.

Kai went to work for myclimate back in January 2013. After stints of working for the sportswear company Nike and other organisations, he thought it was time for a change.

Making the move from Nike looked like a big risk at the time, he says. After all, he was going from one of the largest brands in the world to – what was then – a very small NGO focused on sustainability. “But it was one of the better decisions I took in my life”, Kai says with a smile.

Back then, he simply asked himself: “Does what I’m doing make sense – selling sports shoes? If I stop doing this, will everyone have to go bare-foot – am I making an impact?”

History of myclimate

The organisation he joined, myclimate, is one of the forerunners (and frontrunners) of carbon offsetting. It was founded as a start-up by a couple of students from ETH in Zurich, Switzerland, where the company is still headquartered to this day.

The idea came to the founders while they were on a university trip in Costa Rica in the early 2000s. They had gone there to think about how to save the planet, yet they realised they had just taken a 12-hour, fuel-hungry flight to the other side of the world.

This immediately sparked an idea: what if we can somehow make up for these emissions. Since then, the company has been hell-bent on reducing global CO2 and helping to safeguard the environment.

Moving beyond voluntary carbon offsetting, myclimate has now expanded into offering solutions for reducing carbon footprints and digital tools to make ever-more accurate CO2 calculations. In addition, they are now aiming to educate the public on emissions and what we can all do to reduce them.

The supply chain effect

With myclimate’s online CO2 calculator, #SustainablePublicAffairs has now become the first carbon-neutral PA firm by offsetting the emissions from our operations, events and meetings we arrange. It also supports our aim of ensuring that our clients’ entire value chain is sustainable - even including their service providers, like us! “It’s the ecosystem, stupid”, to misquote Bill Clinton’s campaign strategist James Carville.

We ask Kai about whether companies are becoming more aware of this factor and the UN’s 12th Sustainable Development Goal on ‘Sustainable Procurement’.

“Two or three years ago, companies started to question supply chains and suppliers, but it took time for companies to dive deeper into the question of emissions. When this happened, they realised that there are impacts beyond their control, via suppliers and so on”, Kai says.

He adds that this is clearly a big issue and holds huge potential for decarbonisation efforts: “Imagine if the textiles industry did this”, he remarks, commenting on the massive opportunity for reducing industrial emissions.

Challenges ahead

Kai thinks we are facing three key problems: timing (too late), emissions (too many), funding (not enough).

But the good news, Kai says, is that companies can fill all these gaps. “This is not only what the economy needs, but it’s also what society needs above all”. “Now it’s on us to deliver”, he argues with conviction.

If we manage to achieve this, Kai is convinced that we will solve the challenge of our century. So, the question we should all be asking here in the Brussels bubble: what’s stopping us?

From now on, #SustainablePublicAffairs = carbon neutral public affairs!

Inspired and want to do the same thing? Get in touch and we will gladly share our experiences with you (for example: the best way of calculating the amount of coffees you drink: in our business, way too many!)