Golden Rule #5: Go beyond remediation

Key Takeaways

1. Remediation is the "act of correcting an error or stopping something bad from happening".

2. In your analysis, a company's remediation measures can only be addressed once the broader issue and overall impact have been assessed.

3. Compare the impact data against the industry average or benchmarked against the company’s main competitors.

The fifth golden rule is to look beyond remediation and contextualize the company’s actions and impact with the broader issue.

What's the problem?

  • Remediation is the “act of correcting an error or stopping something bad from happening"1
    • When a company that polluted rivers through their water discharge takes steps to clean up the water supply, this is an example of remediation.

  • Addressing remediation without putting it in context within the broader issue at hand can hamper the reader’s ability to evaluate the scale or the company’s current impact from a bird’s eye view.

What you must do

You should always describe and quantify the broader impact first, and then eventually talk about the remediation initiatives.

To write on remediation, you should therefore follow this approach:

  • Step 1: Evaluate the company's recent outcome and impact based on the Logic Model and the IMP framework

  • Step 2: Assess it based on the company's overall performance.
    • This includes their overall results regarding the production/consumption/emissions and needs to be compared with the industry average.
    • If the industry data is unavailable, benchmark the results against its main competitor(s) similar in size and activities. Once this comparison has been made, the reader can assess whether the impact is significant or a drop in the ocean.

By doing this, you will see that some companies have negative impacts, even if they have reduced their production/consumption/emissions in the short-term.

Always keep in mind that this matters more than the targets the company has set itself, whether they exceeded them or fell short.


Mentioning how much carbon dioxide emissions a company has reduced (remediation) is positive, but the reader will not know how positive (or potentially still negative) if the writer does not evaluate:

a) how significant of an impact the carbon dioxide emitted has on the environment.

b) comparing it to the industry average, or to its main competitors.

"In 2019, CN’s non-renewable energy consumption represented 21,714,241 MWh (megawatt-hours) which is a 15% increase from 2016. The company’s renewable energy sources have increased only slightly: 404,102 MWh in 2016 to 464,390 MWh in 20195;p5 making CN’s renewable energy consumption 2% of its total consumption. This is only 1% higher than its competitor, Canadian Pacific Railway which reported its energy consumption at 11,384,000 MWh in 20186;p118. Of that, only 157,000 MWh was represented by renewable fuels7;p118."

Taken from:

Recommended Articles