Continuing Action

This section explains the main steps involved in setting up systems to manage your environmental impacts and some of the forms of recognition (standards, labels, reporting) available should your company wish to gain environmental credentials. Finally, initiatives such as corporate social responsibility, corporate governance and ethical investment are explained as these can overlap with environmental responsibility initiatives and they are being adopted by the screen production industry overseas and in New Zealand.

Environmental labels

Environmental labels or eco labelling is a voluntary method of environmental performance certification and labelling that is practised around the world. An eco label identifies overall environmental preference of a product or service within a specific criteria set by the organisation administering the label. In contrast to "green" symbols or claim statements developed by companies themselves as marketing tool an eco label is awarded by an impartial third-party after determining that the product meets the environmental criteria prescribed. . Eco labels can be anything from assuring that a product is organic, to assuring carbon neutrality.

Offsetting greenhouse gas emissions

There has been considerable publicity about productions and events that have gone carbon-neutral, in other words they have offset their greenhouse gas emissions. Joe Strummer made the first carbon-neutral records, the Rolling Stones made the first carbon-neutral tour, The Day After Tomorrow was the first carbon-neutral movie, and Shortland Street is the first carbon-neutral series. Offsetting carbon dioxide emissions is one of the criteria for the Environmental Media Association’s Green Seal Award. So why is offsetting important?

The scientific community has reached a strong consensus that the world is undoubtedly warming and that this is the cause of extreme weather events. This warming is largely the result of emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases from human activities including industrial processes, fossil fuel combustion, and changes in land use, such as deforestation.

To protect ourselves, our economy, and our land from the adverse effects of climate change, we must dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon offsetting is fast becoming a popular tool for organisations to address their greenhouse gas emission other known as their ‘carbon footprint’. Typically businesses measure their emissions, implement initiatives to reduce them at source, and offset the remainder through the purchase of carbon offsets (credits). Carbon offsets are generated from emissions reducing projects such as wind farms or other renewable energy projects, forestry projects and methane capture from landfills.

Carbon offsetting is a controversial subject in academic and political communities, and ultimately the media. Many are of the opinion the carbon offsetting is sidestepping the real need for emissions reduction. This is a fair criticism however, carbon offsetting generates valuable income for worthy emissions reduction projects that may otherwise remain unfunded and also places a financial penalty on companies for their greenhouse gas emissions. By reducing emissions organisations will reduce the number of credits they will be required to purchase.

It is important that organisations choose a reputable carbon offset provider, whose offsets are:
• ‘Real’ (have occurred)
• Additional (reduction would not have occurred without the project)
• Measurable
• Permanently retired
• Independently verified
• Not double counted

There is now a wide variety of providers who can assist organisations in measuring and managing greenhouse gas emissions as well as offsetting them. Look for providers who work to the Greenhouse Gas Protocol.
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