Climate Neutral Group’s formula for maximum impact

This interview is part of The Terrace’s ‘1.5-degree society campaign’. In this series we ask professionals: how is your organization contributing to the 1.5-degree society? And – most importantly – what can other organizations learn from your experiences? We hope to inform and inspire other businesses to do even more and accelerate their impact. 

When Climate Neutral Group (CNG) was founded in 2002, they were one of the first organizations to fully focus on climate neutrality. Their mission is to accelerate the transition to a ‘net-zero carbon’ economy. CNG offers its clients advice on how they can reduce their climate impact and at the same time strengthen their business strategies. We spoke to Arjen Struijk, director NL, on how to strive for maximum impact.

What does positive change mean to you and what is your biggest, most important motive for investing in a sustainable future?
Positive change for me is about balance. Balance in what we use and what we give. For example, the balance in our use of natural resources and the diversity in our organisations. I believe that balance comes from being in open contact with yourself, others and the environment you work in. It allows you to receive feedback and with the intention of balance you can realise positive change. At Climate Neutral Group, balance is about aiming for zero emissions. Or even less, to balance others’ emissions.

How do you stay focused on your sustainability targets when so many things are changing in society, among which Covid-19, which influences nearly every cornerstone of the world?
When Covid-19 initially hit, our team went into survival mode. We feared the world would stop thinking about climate change all together. That feeling lasted for two weeks. Then, slowly but surely, some of our existing clients picked up the phone again, saying they wanted to continue the work we started.”

This kept us going. And then new clients also started calling: companies like WeTransfer, Exact software, BloomOn and an Italian coffee brewer wanted help with their transition to net-zero emissions. Of course, we do see some of our clients being hit hard by the virus. Especially those in the travel industry. But for many companies, climate change is now a topic they want to address, more than even before. I really hope that other B Corp companies have the same experience and see that their stakeholders and particularly their customers continue to choose sustainable.

What do you see as the biggest sustainability challenge for CNG at the moment and in the future?
We need all organisations on board, to reduce their CO2-emissions. But for now, we are still mostly working with innovators and early adopters. This is our balancing act. We want momentum to continue with the innovators as they are a source of inspiration but should not become so advanced in our advice and Climate Neutral certification that we become irrelevant for the rest. To make a maximum impact, we need to grow as an organisation and also work with organisations who are not in the frontline (yet).

What message would you like to pass on to other companies that are striving to create sustainable and social impact?
Strive to maximise your impact at all times. Look further than the boundaries of your own business model and be fearless! The formula for maximum impact is: ‘difference made’ x ‘volume’. Be critical of the role you can play in this and where you need others to maximize positive change.

Curious about the other articles of our ‘1.5 degree society campaign’? Last time we spoke with Bibianne Roetert from Lipton on how they are closing the loop on plastic waste.