Media Perspective: Why measuring our carbon footprint is financially relevant

It's easy to see anxieties about the credit crunch and climate change as being in opposition. How can we be wasting money on worrying about emissions when the global economy is in intensive care?

It wouldn't be like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic, it'd be like ordering them some new fabric coverings. But that, of course, is stupid. They are inter-related problems with co-dependent solutions, so what we should be doing is looking for opportunities to tackle both issues at once. And one way of doing that is by paying closer attention to measurement: making sure we have a good understanding of how we're actually using our resources.

The best example I've seen of this recently is a project that Guardian News & Media is doing with a company called Noughtilus. They call the project eco:metrics and it's a way of assessing the CO2 impact of your media schedule. You enter the type of activity you're considering and it'll give you a CO2 measure for each individual component.

Obviously, it's only approximate, but I bet it's better than what you're doing at the moment. This seems important to me, not because everyone's going to change their media schedules overnight, but because it starts to create a currency for conversation, and people will start to develop rules of thumb, knowing that activity A generally delivers the same impacts as activity B but with a larger carbon footprint.

This is worthwhile in itself as an aspect of environmental reporting and action, but it's also valuable because we need to get into the habit of paying attention to, and properly considering, all the ramifications of our marketing activity. It's also significant because once one aspect of an activity is measured, there's a tendency to investigate the others, and so attention and understanding move up and down the supply chain.

At one end of the process, the owners of factories are starting to really understand all the environmental and societal costs of what they make, and how they get it to market. At the other end, it's now getting easier to measure some of the costs of communicating about that product. And it's just human and corporate nature that soon we'll want to know all the costs in between.

How much energy does it take to have an idea or a status meeting? To ship three people and some polyboard to the other side of town? We're going to be asked to report on this stuff. And, hopefully, the economic impact will be just like in the world of manufacturing: when companies try to be greener, they tend to make themselves more efficient at the same time.

So that's worth thinking about, isn't it? Look up Noughtilus or ask The Guardian about eco:metrics.