Building Climate Resilience Through Communication with Footprint Level®
How do we build a climate resilient future amidst our ongoing climate catastrophe? We talk to Footprint Level® – the winner of Creative Business Cup Sweden 2021 – to see how their company contributes to the greater good of our climate, world, and us.
Behind Footprint Level® is a trio of co-founders: Mats Huss, Andrea Hägg, and Karl-Fredrik Johnfors. With diverse backgrounds and a wide array of experiences – Huss having over 20 years of experience within the field of design and product development, Hägg joining the team as an environmental scientist, and Johnfors coming from a background of visual communication – the three have joined forces for one common mission: contributing to a more sustainable future.
“The inspiration for Footprint Level actually stems from my brother, Erik, who is an expert on climate change, specializing in glaciology. A geographer and science journalist, Erik has made me more and more aware of the climate catastrophe we’re currently in. Our discussions really prompted me to want to do better,” Huss explains. “You know, my brother – much like his scientist friends, and people like Greta Thunberg – get really… angry that we, as humans, aren’t doing more to oppose what is going on around us. They’re so informed of the intricacies of climate dynamics – often very complex and complicated – that they simply can’t grasp why we aren’t doing more as a group. At Footprint Level®, we want to take this complicated science and make it easily digestible for others. We’re looking to close that knowledge gap.”
Footprint Level® is all about cracking the code of communication. Since its birth in 2017, the idea of Footprint Level® has been an ever-evolving journey.
“In my discussions with my brother, I realized that we aren’t doing better because the climate catastrophe isn’t communicated clearly enough to us. I mean, we hear about climate change all the time, but in order to really trigger behavioral change, it needs to be relevant. And that relevance might look different for everyone,” Huss explains. “It’s a little bit like comparing Apple and PC; they communicate completely differently and therefore have come to accumulate different target audiences,” he continues. “At Footprint, Level® we’ve put a lot of care into crafting a diverse team and keeping our communication adaptable and flexible. After all, our main goal is to make climate resilience easy to understand; and prompting that understanding will be different to different people,” Hägg fills in.
During the past two years, Mats Huss has held over 100 presentations for sustainability managers, marketing managers and CEOs in a variety of different fields of work, ranging from Max Burgers to Skånetrafiken. During this time, Footprint Level® started to concretize; in 2020 the company was registered and in February 2021 the brand officially launched.
“During one of my presentations, I was told that I had a window of time right now that I needed to make use of," Huss says.
"They told me: ‘This is perfect timing. If you’d presented this one year ago, it’d be too early; and one year from now – it’ll be too late."
Huss tells me that with Greta Thunberg and Fridays for Future becoming increasingly popularized, the climate movement was really gaining traction, and Hägg adds that sustainability is sort of a buzzword right now. “A lot of people use sustainability as a measure of growth," she says. Surely, a lot of that – unfortunately – is green-washing, and we want to make actual and lasting change. For us, it’s all about bridging the gap between the intricacies of science and the huge impact on the environment that stems from industry and commerce in a continuous and sustainable way,” she continues.
But climate indexing isn’t new and competition is fierce – something that Huss is actually quite happy about.
“We’re facing a big challenge that we need to tackle together. It makes me happy to know that so many of us are trying. But what makes us stand out from our competitors is that we’re not only digging deep into the science of climate change – we’re also experts on communication,” Huss says. “Knowledge, in and of itself, is limited in its potential if it’s not communicated clearly. That’s why we believe that we have the potential to make an even bigger impact through the work of communication, that in turn prompts behavioral change.” Footprint Level® uses the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol to calculate the carbon footprint of companies; and unlike others in their ecosystem, they present their climate index in relation to something else – the Paris Agreement. “Many carbon footprint companies calculate CO2 and present it as a purely numerical value, like ‘this company’s climate impact was X tonnes CO2.’ While that number might be correct, it’s abstract and intangible for many. The value that we present in our assessment directly correlates to the Paris Agreement. On a scale from 1-100, any company going through our GHG Protocol Assessment will see how close they are to reaching the 1.5°C goal,” Huss explains. “We’re interested in change over time, so we do at least two assessments for each company we work with. In this way, we can relate it to the tangibility of the Paris Agreement, that many people know of, understand, and want to work towards.”
With clients in Sweden and Thailand, Footprint Level® is open to service all sorts of businesses; sustainable or not.
“The idea of making big companies lower their climate impact is actually what really intrigued me about Footprint Level® at first,” Hägg explains. “As an environmental science student, I always wanted to do more – and not just on a personal level. Footprint Level® has the potential to really make a big impact on companies that currently have high climate impacts; and we welcome them as our clients, too, of course!" Hägg assures us.
"Companies with a high climate impact but also with high ambitions of becoming more sustainable are really important. If they can make a change, everyone can. It shows others that it’s never too late to turn around for the better.”
At the BRIGHT Conference at the end of June – held virtually in Copenhagen this year – Footprint Level® will be representing Sweden at the Global Finals of the Creative Business Cup, something which we are all so excited about.
"It feels like a great leap forward and we feel extremely honored to get to represent Sweden. Not only does it make us proud – it’s also given us the power to push our concept even further," Hägg explains, while Huss adds: “Yeah, I honestly can’t believe it. We’re so happy.” In an email, Karl-Fredrik also chips in. "I'm both honored and excited that Footprint Level managed to win the Creative Business Cup in Sweden in 2021. With so many fantastic opponents, it makes it even more remarkable and important. I am really looking forward to taking part in all the experienced advice and mentorship that we are going to get access to, it will be really interesting to see how we can grow further with that support. It will also be exciting to be standing on the international stage in the global final in Copenhagen and show ourselves to the rest of the world."
But the journey doesn’t stop there. With big ambitions, the ultimate goal is to see a significant change in the amount of CO2 emissions being released. “I really want big companies with big climate impacts to work with us. I feel like in that way, we can truly say that we’ve made a difference,” Hägg says. “Yeah, I agree. Wouldn’t it be so cool to have a certificate saying that we’ve actually contributed to facilitating behavior change around the world? That’s my wish.” Huss adds. ----------------------
We are very excited to see what the future holds for Footprint Level®. You can read more about Footprint Level's co-founders: Mats Huss, Andrea Hägg, and Karl-Fredrik Johnfors on their website. We wish them the best of luck in Copenhagen and are hopeful to see them take on the world!
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