Climate sceptics at your Christmas dinner? Here is what you should answer



“So you work at Tapio right, the company that sells trees? Climate transition is too expensive. Belgium does not even pollute 1% of global emissions. Why should we do something at all?”. Here is a first taste of the misconceptions we regularly deal with as Tapio collaborators. 

As 2022 slowly comes to an end, we have decided to share with you the top 6 (for a change from the top 5) most recurrent misconceptions about Tapio, climate change, and sustainable development, and how to respond to them. The objective is twofold: first, to remind you of what Tapio does and does not do. Secondly, to make sure you don’t run out of arguments with the climate sceptics in the family and to still enjoy your Christmas dinner.


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Tapio, is that the company that sells trees?


No, we do not sell trees. If you’re looking for your Christmas tree at the last minute, you’ve come to the wrong place. Or maybe the person you are talking to is implying that we favour tree-saving offset projects over a concrete reduction strategy. Well, as you may already know, Tapio’s objective is the exact opposite. We strive to encourage companies and organisations to implement a consistent carbon reduction strategy and to support them along their journey towards a low-carbon future. How? Through our Carbon Strategy platform. Based on an exhaustive analysis of tens of thousands of data points, our platform combines our clients’ highest emission sources with low-carbon solutions according to their needs and sector. By initiating change on their levels and among their stakeholders, our clients contribute to shaping a low-carbon ecosystem.




The principle of your company is to combine climate expertise with technology, the biggest emitter of CO2, to accelerate the transition. That sounds counter-intuitive, isn’t it? 


This remark sounds legitimate when you know the quantity of GHG emissions released into the atmosphere. But as any other company, climate tech scale-ups emit in the course of their services and we are no exception. In this matter, we invite you to read our carbon report here. Beyond that, a large part of the GHG emissions associated with digital technology come rather from the massive storage of dirty data, i.e. unused files, images and videos on servers and computers. For us, it is therefore essential to raise awareness among companies and individuals of “good practices” related to the use of digital technology. This is an ambition shared by the  signatories of the ISIT Digital Responsibility Charter, which we are also part of. Eventually, the ‘small’ amount of emissions produced by climate-tech companies like Tapio is necessary to be able to help companies to face the climate transition, make them initiate change on their levels and to effectively support climate action. You can read more about the role of climate-tech in our white paper




Are you contributing to inaction by proposing offset projects? Isn’t that a bit like greenwashing?


A climate-tech scale-up promoting greenwashing? What a perfect example of cognitive dissonance. Just like the first question at the beginning, the person you are speaking to probably refers to the (sad but true) reality where some organisations allow companies to have a clear conscience by allowing them to finance an offset project. And that without encouraging them to drastically reduce their emissions within their value chain. The tricky shortcut “offset project” as an incentive for greenwashing, and thus for inaction, continues to make the rounds. However, the one does not necessarily imply the other and this is not at all in line with our policy. 

At Tapio, our clients must first commit to reducing their emissions within their value chain. Only the emissions that cannot be reduced are then offset by carbon projects that allow them to reduce emissions outside their value chain. And only in that order. To put it another way, carbon offset projects are only considered as a last resort and should be best seen as a complement to the efforts already made by the company to reduce the emissions within its value chain. Therefore, simply financing an offset project does not absolve the company from the obligation to reduce its emissions within its value chain. Eventually, we encourage companies to become actors of change, not to comply by doing nothing. 




Climate transition is too expensive. And if it is not mandatory, why should we spend money on it? 


The latest IPCC report is crystal clear: doing nothing is much more expensive than the costs linked to the ecological transition. Large companies and SMEs often associate the transition with exorbitant additional costs. As climate change becomes an urgency, companies and organisations have the choice: either adapting or disappearing. According to the findings of CDP’s 2019 Global Climate Change analysis, the potential value of sustainable business opportunities is almost seven times the cost of realising them (US$311bn  in costs, US$2.1 trillion  in opportunities). Besides, the implementation of consistent climate actions is likely to generate a positive impact for businesses. As mentioned in a previous article, taking ambitious climate action will increase their financial value and fulfil their environmental responsibilities to their stakeholders, which in return is likely to attract more potential investors. 




Belgium does not even pollute 1% of global emissions compared to China, Russia, or the United States…


Size does not matter. At least, not in the way you think. Yes, for some Belgium is difficult to pinpoint on the world map. However, no matter if it’s Russia or Luxembourg, the size of a country does not exempt it from acting against global warming. According to an article from Bon Pote tackling the French case, although France accounts for less than 1% of global emissions, it is not the only country in this situation: there are more than 200 of them! For the authors, if we add up the emissions of the countries that emit less than 1% of the world’s emissions, they represent the 2nd most important source of emissions, behind China. And if we add up the countries that account for between 1 and 2% of emissions, they represent the world’s largest source of emissions. 




We are not going to stop living anyway


The last one will be inevitable. The idea is not to deprive ourselves of daily pleasures, but to pay attention to our impact and adapt our lifestyle accordingly. Being aware of our carbon footprint is already a first step in the right direction. At the level of companies and organisations, this means visualising their main sources of GHG emissions. But visualising is not enough. As reflected in our pillars “Understand“, “Act” and “Engage“, the process of understanding must be followed by consistent actions and by engaging with their stakeholders. Climate urgency should rather be seen as an opportunity to act. 

If these answers are not enough to save your evening, you still have the AI as your trump card. BonPote has created a short interactive guide with the most common misconceptions about global warming and how to respond to them. Let’s hope that this small contribution will enable you to defuse any potential conflict and prevent your dining room from turning into a battlefield.