Next month sees the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (also referred to as COP 21) take place in Paris, and this takes on greater importance according to Vicky Murray from Neal’s Yard Remedies, as it could be the last chance to reach a global agreement on carbon targets to limit climate change to manageable levels.
Speaking exclusively with CosmeticsDesign-Europe.com, the Head of Sustainability at the natural health and beauty company, who was the first UK high-street retailer to be certified as ‘Carbon Neutral’ by the CarbonNeutral Company back in 2008, says that it is even more important to do everything to reduce carbon impact.
“It’s not just about the health of our planet, but also about our health and, ultimately, our survival too,” she says. “Reducing greenhouse gas emissions on a global scale is urgent! The importance of a stable climate cannot be underestimated – it is everything to businesses like ours!”
Vicky tells us that for businesses that rely on availability of quality natural ingredients, such as herbs and other plants, grown out in the fields by farmers all over the world, this topic is of great importance as without those ingredients and the farmers who grow them, companies have no products!
“As a result of climate change we’re already seeing increases in the number and severity of droughts, floods, unseasonal weather and pests that directly impact cost, availability and quality of natural ingredients,” she continues.
“And warnings from climate scientists about future impacts are increasingly dire. [Neal’s Yard] is busy planning projects and meeting with our suppliers to help adaptation to climate change. It is fundamental to the future success of our business.”
There is also growing evidence and discussion about the impact of climate change on health.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) “climate change affects the social and environmental determinants of health – clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food and secure shelter.”
“Between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and heat stress” and is estimated to have direct health costs of between US$ 2-4 billion/year by 2030.
Vicky says that all eyes will be on Paris in December for the United Nations Conference on Climate Change as it is being seen as “the last chance saloon to reach a global agreement on carbon targets to limit climate change to manageable levels.”
To do this she says that companies need to set a clear strategy in place, which Neal’s Yards has done by setting up a carbon management hierarchy in place to ensure that it is reducing emissions and doing so in the most efficient way: 1. Avoid, 2. Reduce, 3. Replace, 4. Offset.
“Offsetting has had a bad reputation in the past, but that is no longer deserved. Using a carbon management hierarchy means you are offsetting within a framework of improving efficiency and reducing carbon use as much as possible, so that offsetting becomes the last step, not the first,” says Vicky.
“All companies can go carbon neutral or at least start to work out how they can do it. We hope our story on going carbon neutral helps to inspire others in the health and beauty sector to do the same.”