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How to handle climate overwhelm

The challenges of carbon management are many and varied. Screeds of data, more acronyms than you could ever hope to remember, standards and policies that seem to change constantly. How is one expected to stay on top of everything you need to know relating to climate obligations, emissions measurement and decarbonisation planning?


The 2022 Insights on Sustainability Professionals Report completed by AUT, Sustainable Business Network and Oxygen Consulting, highlighted 'Risk of burnout' as one of their top 5 challenges that may impact our ability to effectively address sustainability in future. The report also highlights that overall worker wellbeing in the sustainability sector has declined in the past year.


Figure 1: Worker wellbeing survey results, 2022 Insights on Sustainability Professionals Report
Figure 1: Worker wellbeing survey results, 2022 Insights on Sustainability Professionals Report

So firstly, we need to acknowledge that the climate crisis, and particularly the role of measuring and reducing emissions in an organisational sense, is overwhelming.


Communication is part of the solution


Once we acknowledge the reality of the situation, it's important to communicate these frustrations with others.


Find a team member or colleague that can meet with you for a daily or weekly coffee to talk through what's on your plate. Even if you need to look outside your immediate team, there is likely to be someone in your organisation who cares deeply about the climate crisis and is ready to lend an ear and empathise with your situation.


Verbalising the challenges you are facing can help reduce the stress or anxiety those concerns create and help provide clarity on logical next steps.


Seek out education opportunities


Commit to regular education. In a constantly changing world of standards, expectations and regulations, knowledge can build confidence. Due to the complexity of climate change, it's impossible to learn everything you need to know in one course, so find training options you can chip away at regularly to build your knowledge base and grow it further in future.


Here are some great sources of climate-related education:

It may help to know that most sustainability professionals (according the Insights Report) develop their capability while on the job and through networking and online courses. It's totally normal to learn as you go.

Figure 2: Capability sources, 2022 Insights on Sustainability Professionals Report

Break it down


Next up, we need to break the larger problem down into smaller steps. Keep in mind, you probably won't know what all the steps are just yet, but in the words of Princess Anna in Frozen 2, we just need to focus on doing the 'next right thing'.


Don't try and jump to the end of the book. You don't need to have your head around the entire process, you just need to have an idea of what the next logical step entails.


Not sure where to start? Check out our Carbon Journey diagram and dive into the earliest step you have not yet undertaken...


The Carbon Journey by CarbonEES
Figure 3: The Carbon Journey

Evaluate capability


Looking through the Carbon Journey (Figure 1), what are you able to do in-house? What will you need eternal help with? Be realistic, sometimes asking for the help is the quickest way to secure meaningful progress.


Get quotes


Are you wondering what that external help will cost? Or what exactly is involved in each of the steps in the Carbon Journey? A company like CarbonEES can provide a scope of work and pricing proposal for each individual part of the process, so you can evaluate what best practice looks like and which areas to outsource.


To start the process of securing a no-obligation proposal, get in touch with our team today. We can chat about your organisation and provide a quote that is customised to your situation.


Secure budget


Once you know what you need to outsource, and what it's likely going to cost, it's time to secure a budget to get the work started.


At this point, a detailed scope of work from your potential supplier will help. Decision makers in your organisation may not be aware of how much work goes into completing a greenhouse gas inventory, or creating an emissions reduction plan, for example. Understanding the parameters of the work involved and clearly communicating those expectations is critical if you want to provide adequate evidence for funding approvals.


Take action and reduce climate overwhelm


Congratulations! You've made it through the hardest part. By this stage you should have a clear path forward and potentially an external partner to support you through your carbon journey.


The antidote to overwhelm is narrowed focus and progressive action.


Taking a step in the right direction, no matter how small, is a move towards progress.


If you have any questions, or are not sure where to start, reach out to our team. We would love to help.


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