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In 2019, Cliniko generated about 482.4 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. 482.4 tonnes. To give that number a bit of perspective, this is equivalent to about the weight of:
- three Boeing 787-800 Dreamliners (161 tonnes per plane).
- 7,781 average weighted people (62 kg per person).
- 264 Tesla Model 3s (1831 kg per Model 3).
Last year, we decided that we could do a little bit more to leave the world better than we’ve found it, and we started the journey of becoming a carbon neutral company. We knew that our footprint would be a fair size, as we are a remote working company, and have annual meet-ups in which we fly people from all over the globe out to Australia (and other destinations). Once we started the process to figure out how much we actually emitted, we quickly realised that we may need to get a bit of external help in ensuring that we were calculating things correctly!
We did quite a bit of research to find a company that would not only help us determine the size of our footprint, but would also help us find ways to reduce our emissions and assist us in contributing to projects that would help offset the emissions that we create. There are heaps of them out there, but ultimately we chose Carbon Neutral Australia. They were one of the very few that understood the challenges we faced with being a fully remote company, and that was important to us.
Thorough, methodical, and informative
We decided that as a fully remote company that we would not only offset the emissions directly created from Cliniko, but we would also offset each team member’s usage while working. This was a bit more complicated as we have 42 employees located all across the globe. It gets even more complicated when you consider that different states or provinces have different ways of generating electricity. Carbon Neutral was extremely helpful with this, as they did the research to find out how each region generates power. Surprisingly, many people on the team have the majority of their power coming from coal or gas; around 50% of the team had more than half their power coming from carbon emitting sources.
We collected usage data on everyone’s computers, monitors, lights, air conditioning, heating, and work-related vehicle travel. Some of the team work in natural light, others work at night with their lights on. Carbon Neutral went a bit further, and even captured the type of equipment each team member uses; types of light bulbs, air conditioning, heater options, and more. Each person works a bit differently, and we wanted to ensure that we captured the most accurate emission profile!
Some surprises along the way
As a team, we like to meet up at least once a year in person. While this is really an incredible experience, it does require a majority of the team to travel quite long distances to get to Australia; we’ve once had someone travel over 30 hours for a 2 week meet-up, that’s how incredible it is! There is obviously one major downside to all that travel; the amount of fuel burned.
Air travel is one of the world's largest contributors to our global carbon emissions. To give you an example, of just how much fuel this is, here is a bit of math:
The Boeing Dreamliner 787-800 is one of the most fuel efficient long haul planes in the world. While it is efficient, it still burns around 2.77 litres of fuel per 100 km flown, per seat. For example, I travel from Toronto to Melbourne, which is about 16,265 km. This means for me to fly one-way to Melbourne, I would use 450 litres of fuel. 450 litres of fuel. It adds up pretty quick.
As a team, we flew over 489 714 km. Using the same math as above, and assuming everyone flew on the Dreamliner, that is about 13,565 litres of fuel. That’s a lot of fuel, and shockingly, that was not Cliniko’s biggest emissions culprit. The majority of our emissions come from something that isn’t really something that we can directly control; database and web hosting. That comes in a whopping 65.3% of our total emissions for 2019. Thankfully, Amazon has pledged that they will become net-zero by the year 2040. This will not only dramatically reduce our emissions, it will also dramatically reduce the emissions the world creates, seeing as over 30% of global data and web hosting is managed by Amazon.
What can we do?
It’s impossible to simply stop emitting as there are some things that are beyond our control; however, it’s not impossible to make our footprint as small as possible (or even make it non-existent). Planting trees, protecting forests, going vegan, and investing in renewable energy are just some of the more popular ways that one can reduce their footprint, although there are many other projects that can help.
Carbon capture is a relatively new technology that basically sucks carbon emissions out of the air, and locks it away in materials like concrete, or stores it in old containers that were used to store gas or oil. Investing in technologies that help underdeveloped regions reduce their emissions, like improved cooking stoves in Rwanda, is another great initiative. There are many projects that can help directly and indirectly offset your emissions, and many of them also help communities who really need it.
For us, we decided that for our 2019 emissions, we would invest in a project that protects the Amazon rainforest from deforestation. The Municipality of Lábrea, in Brazil, has the highest rates of deforestation. This project will not only protect the Amazon Biome, it will contribute to reducing carbon emissions by 4,267,919 tonnes of carbon emissions per year. To give that perspective, that’s like removing 928,187 fossil fuel powered passenger vehicles from the road annually!
Cliniko is committed to being carbon neutral. We will continue to evaluate our emissions annually, search for ways to reduce our footprint, offset the emissions we have created, and encourage others to do the same. We have always believed that we should leave the world a better place than we found it, and I think this is an important step in achieving that goal.
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Our video wunderkind, and Cliniko support team member, Rachel, headed off to Nepal in October 2018 to see firsthand the impact that Cliniko subscription donations are making to HIV/AIDS affected, and homeless children.