We’re Declaring a Climate Emergency

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Mightybytes has joined hundreds of other companies and thousands of jurisdictions around the world in declaring a climate emergency. We’re committing to net zero emissions as quickly as possible. You should join us. Seriously, you should.

NOTE: I originally wrote this post at the beginning of 2020, not knowing what challenges the year would bring. These types of bold commitments from businesses are needed now more than ever. We need to redesign how our systems work and change the economy so it is more inclusive, more equitable, more regenerative, and works for everyone. And we need to do this yesterday.

Does Your News Feed Look Like This?

Every day, my news feed is filled with more stories foretelling the pending global catastrophe: 

I recently read David Wallace-Wells The Uninhabitable Earth, which breaks down the key impacts of climate change, piece by piece. Humanity has never seen a crisis like this. No one will be spared. What’s worse, the threats of a changing climate will impact the world’s most vulnerable populations first. It can all feel very overwhelming.

Yet, I have hope. The tools and resources to end this crisis are at our disposal. We just need the collective will (and tenacity) to make systems-level change happen. An entire global community of businesses are already leading the way:

The Power of Community

The B Corp community works toward reduced inequality, lower levels of poverty, a healthier environment, stronger communities, and the creation of more high quality jobs with dignity and purpose.

— B Lab UK

The B Corp community does a lot to solve global social and environmental problems. In 2019 alone, the community has:

  • Offset 6.4 million tons of carbon
  • Diverted 108 thousand metric tons of waste
  • Performed 60,000 hours of volunteer service
  • Protected 8,800 hectares of land

In late 2019, over 500 Certified B Corps publicly committed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and reach net zero by the year 2030—twenty years ahead of targets set in the Paris Agreement. This commitment is part of the largest constituency of businesses leading on climate action in history. Mightybytes is a proud member of this business community and we are joining thousands of government jurisdictions and businesses declaring a climate emergency.


What’s Driving This Declaration?

I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is.

— Greta Thunberg

The business sector is the primary source of our planetary greenhouse gas emissions. We need to transition as quickly as possible to an economy that is powered by renewable energy. The situation is urgent and we must act now. All of us.

The answers to solving the climate crisis and planetary ecological breakdown exist. They require bold actions and long-term thinking. Business leaders must embrace new practices and different business models that offer proven solutions. Fueled by the situation’s urgency, we must commit to continuous improvement. Mightybytes has been undergoing this transformation for nearly a decade now. This declaration is just the latest step in our ongoing evolution.

Climate Strike protestors in Chicago
Chicagoans take to the streets during the September 2019 Climate Strike.

What if we Did Nothing?

There is no business to be done on a dead planet.

— David Bower

Organizations that don’t devise forward-thinking climate strategies will struggle to thrive, or even survive, in a future where the impacts of climate change occur everywhere, everyday. Without a firm plan and the resources to execute it in place, many companies will risk becoming obsolete, their supply chains depleted, their access to capital at risk, and their operations crippled.

These businesses will lose value over time and could potentially be taxed or in violation of the law if their business model is extractive and dependent on fossil fuels. Plus, rising temperatures, flooding, air pollution, and extreme weather events will increase the risk of disease, food shortages, displacement, and disruption to property, which impacts everyone.

An infographic showing how some organizations address the SDGs.
The U.N. Sustainable Development Goals provide a great problem-solving framework for organizations of any stripe.

Opportunities the Climate Crisis Presents

If we make the right choices over the next 2-3 years, we could unlock benefits worth $26 trillion from here to 2030, create 65 million new low-carbon jobs, and avoid over 700,000 premature deaths from air pollution.

— New Climate Economy

The transition to a regenerative and inclusive economy must come quickly. It will be disruptive to most businesses and nonprofits, especially if they are large, old, or heavily dependent on fossil fuels. Without a doubt, it will impact our political systems. Companies, and the people within them, need to start thinking differently about how to tackle the many problems we face in light of this crisis.

That in mind, the climate crisis will also provide untold opportunities for companies willing to think long-term, embrace new policies, and incorporate innovation practices into their (new or existing) business models. For example, according to the Business & Sustainable Development Commission, addressing the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) could open up $12 trillion in market opportunities. The methods by which organizations can address these goals, or others related to the climate crisis, are far-reaching and plentiful. 

At Mightybytes, we believe practices like systems thinking, design thinking, biomimicry, and embracing circular economy principles can help organizations more quickly adapt to this new paradigm and create future-forward products, services, programs, and practices. As a Certified B Corp, we’re probably biased, but companies that measure and improve upon their impact over time using tools like the B Impact Assessment (BIA) or the SDG Action Manager will be much better positioned for long-term success in the face of climate change.

2019 B Corp Champions Retreat
Every year, B Corps from around the world come together to share ideas and practices on how to use business for good.

Making Our Business an Instrument for Change

What you do to the land, you do to the people. What you do to the people, you do to the land.

— 2019 B Corp Champions Retreat mantra

While our climate emergency declaration is largely symbolic, the actions behind it are not. We’re using this declaration as a catalyst to create change within our own organization and with our stakeholders. In 2020, we’re re-certifying as a B Corp for the fifth time. This not only gives us an opportunity to increase our BIA score, but also to incorporate climate emergency principles into our reassessment process. 

That in mind, we have committed to a few key things as a company:

Net Zero

We will run a zero-emissions business that uses science-based targets to achieve our greenhouse gas emissions goals. Other businesses have set 2030 as their Net Zero deadline. As a small agency, we think we can achieve this target much faster. We will also explore what it takes to become a Zero Waste company.

A Climate Emergency Plan

As a Certified B Corp and Public Benefit Corporation, Mightybytes already includes environment, social, and governance (ESG) principles in our decision-making processes. This year, we’ll craft a climate emergency plan that outlines key goals in the following areas:

  • Legal and Governance: We will review our company policies, articles of incorporation, and other legally binding documents to identify places to improve practices.
  • Finance: We will audit our financial and capital management practices to see if there are additional opportunities to divest from fossil fuels and make more socially responsible decisions.
  • Operations & Human Resources: We will review travel, commuting, office habits, incentives, and research employee benefits to find more socially and environmentally responsible options.
  • Supply Chain: As a small agency, we don’t have much of a supply chain. We will undergo a thorough review of our vendors, suppliers, and processes to identify more responsible options.

Advocating for Change

Finally, we will utilize our core competencies in design, marketing, and technology to encourage our network to forge policies and strategic partnerships that align with climate emergency guidelines and use their purchasing power for good, including:

  • Sharing what we learn with other businesses so that they too can improve performance
  • Creating more environment, circular economy, and emissions-focused content on our blog, in our events and presentations, and through other company channels
  • Pressuring local and regional politicians to enact climate-friendly legislation, such as carbon pricing, legal carbon emissions targets, and renewable energy legislation
Human Centered Design exercise at Mightybytes
Human-Centered Design (HCD) exercises can be applied to everything from website projects to redesigning business models.

Let’s Transform the Economy

The single greatest impediment to meaningful climate action is the system failure that centers our economy on maximizing profits at the expense of people and the natural world. This leads to short-term decisions that externalize environmental and social costs, creating massive systemic risk and social unrest, and undermining healthy markets. Business leaders have a vital role to play in calling this system flaw into question at every opportunity, starting first with embedding broader stakeholder interests into their own corporate operating system.

— The Climate Emergency Playbook

Mightybytes has lived these values for most of our years in existence, but since joining the B Corp community in 2011, we have redesigned our business model and become passionate advocates for creating an economy that works for everyone. After nearly a decade of measuring our impact and aligning purpose with profit, we are ready to help other businesses do the same.

In November 2019, we released a report detailing what organizations are doing to advance the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). While 75% of our participants made climate action their top priority, it became clear to us while working on this report that not nearly enough businesses or nonprofits prioritize climate change nor do they really understand how to navigate the transition from existing practices to new business models and future-friendly, circular products, services, or programs. This year, we plan to help more clients do that. 

Are you struggling with what to do in the face of the pending climate crisis? It’s something we’ve given a lot of thought to, hence this emergency declaration. If you want to have a conversation, feel free to reach out via our contact form or download our SDG Report below to learn how others create change within their own organizations. If you want to read more about sustainability in terms of web design we’ve written about that before too. Thanks for reading!

Not sure where to start?

Check out our SDG Report to learn how others use the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals to create meaningful change in their organizations.

Download the Report
Tim Frick founded Mightybytes in 1998 to help mission-driven organizations solve problems, amplify their impact, and meet business and marketing goals. He is the author of four books, including Designing for Sustainability: A Guide to Building Greener Digital Products and Services from O'Reilly Media. Connect with Tim on LinkedIn.