Who would have thought that a major company – let alone a trucking company – could cut its emissions intensity by almost 30 per cent in less than three years?

Yet on Sunday logistics company Linfox announced a 28 per cent reduction in its carbon emissions per km on 2007 levels. And despite substantially increasing total kilometres driven in the period, the company’s total carbon emissions have decreased.

Linfox Group Manager Environment and Climate Change David McInnes  yesterday said that whilst electricity usage increased slightly, emissions from fuels (80 per cnet of their emissions) decreased substantially. The decrease was due to a range of initiatives, including routing changes, some changes to the Linfox fleet (eg B doubles substituting semi trailers) and its “eco driver” training program that has led to more economical driving.

Not only has this an outstanding environmental achievement, it has also contributed to the bottom line for the company through massive fuel savings.

Linfox is one of the major Australian corporations who will be directly subject to the Emissions Trading Scheme once made law. Yet unlike many other organisations instead of protesting and seeking exemptions it has quietly gone about reducing its emissions. Its internal 2010 target was a 15 per cent reduction per km on 2007 levels, and it has gone well beyond this.

Corporations have a choice about what they do in response to the ETS and climate change. They can argue for special exemptions, protest that they are already operating as efficiently as possible, and try to minimise any regulatory obligation to reduce emissions. Or they can, as Linfox has done, accept the need to reduce emissions and get on with it.

I remember reading The Living Company, a book by Arie de Geus, which identified the reasons why some companies last for centuries whilst the average lifespan of a company was only 12.5 years and that of a multinational 40 years. The reason boiled down to the long lived companies treating ” their enterprises as living work communities rather than pure economic machines.”

Those companies resisting the ETS and the environmental imperative to cut carbon emissions are, I believe, putting the longevity of their companies at risk with their myopic focus on short term economic benefit. Resisting the urgent need to cut carbon emissions today means, from a business perspective:

  • Risking a community and public backlash. The majority of Australians want action to reduce our emissions.
  • Likely long term losses and bankruptcy. Want your business and industry to survive in a carbon constrained world? Reduce the amount of carbon you are producing.
  • Missed opportunity here and now. Acting to reduce carbon emissions can be great for business, as Linfox has demonstrated.

So when Terry McCrann thunders from the pages of the Herald Sun, as he did this week, that “Reducing our emissions by “just” 5 per cent will do a lot for the economy – all of it bad to disastrous” bear in mind that Peter and Lindsay Fox may disagree. Cutting their emission by 28 per cent has been great for Linfox.

Its my personal experience as a commercial energy auditor that many organisations can easily cut their energy use and carbon emissions by 15 per cent or more and get a great return on investment. Linfox is a great example of what can be done when a business takes energy efficiency and climate change seriously. Its a win for the environment. Its a econonic win for the business. And its also a PR coup for the company.

Bruce Rowse is managing director of CarbonetiX