MEMBER PROFILE: Chris Wilson, co-founder Pangolin Associates
Updated: Jul 7, 2021
Chris Wilson co-founded Pangolin Associates in 2010 to provide the education and tools businesses need to operate and prosper in our carbon restrained economy. In his current role as Director Sustainability Advisory Services, he constructs and maintains frameworks and systems that deliver environmental outcomes and efficiency gains.
Chris is certified as a Lead Auditor – Environmental Management Systems through Exemplar Global, a full member of the Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand, a Registered Greenhouse and Energy Auditor (Category 1) under section 75A of the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act 2007, a registered consultant for Climate Active Certification and a member of the general committee for the Australian Institute of Environmental Accounting.
We spoke to Chris about his career in environmental management and sustainability, his use of LCA and the role he would like ALCAS to play in the environmental management community.
How (and why) did you first become involved in environmental management and sustainability?
I studied the history and philosophy of science as an undergraduate in the early 1990's and became interested in both the ethical and sustainable aspects of scientific knowledge and how different interpretations of the world affect human interactions with natural systems. After working in a variety of roles and living overseas for a while, I returned to study and enrolled in the Masters of Environmental Management course at UNSW as I was looking for practical applications of the theoretical concepts I had previously learnt about. One of the electives was on managing greenhouse gas emissions and I also became a certified auditor of environmental management systems. I've been focussed on GHG and energy accounting and auditing ever since.
You are a co-founder of Pangolin Associates. What gap did you see that prompted you to establish Pangolin?
When we started (in mid 2010) there was a lot of uncertainty around the potential impacts of a national emissions trading scheme (via the proposed CPRS) with many organisations wanting to look at the carbon intensity of their value chains. We were already well versed in modelling GHG emissions from a bottom-up approach through our work with the recently introduced NGER scheme and also with a top-down analysis via environmentally extended input-output tables. Through this type of hybrid approach we were able to offer a cost-effective means to determining carbon risk exposure.
Your current role is Director of Sustainability Advisory Services. Tell us about the advisory services Pangolin provides.
We advise clients on all aspects of the carbon economy, from measuring their impacts to strategic reduction plans in line with climate science and sourcing credible offsets for GHG emissions which can't be abated. We have worked with about half of the 200 organisations that have a certification under the Australian Government's Climate Active carbon neutral program in either a consulting or audit capacity and actively manage over a third. Our energy management solutions include certified measurement and verification as well as all levels of audit. We also assist with and review submissions required for mandatory GHG and energy reporting under NGERS, ERF and the Safeguard Mechanism. Estimating the embodied carbon of built environment projects is increasing becoming part of our core services as well.
What role does LCA play in your day-to-day work?
We always try to be as thorough as possible with all of our assessments and take into account all GHG emissions that would not have occurred if the organisation did not exist. In this sense we are undertaking an analysis of all carbon impacts through the life cycle of their operations. Product and service providers also make a large component of our client base so this requires a more in depth investigation upstream and downstream.
Pangolin have recently become corporate sponsors of ALCAS. As sponsors, what role would you like to see ALCAS play in the LCA and environmental management community?
The LCA community in Australia could certainly do with more exposure and engagement from non-practitioners and it would be great if ALCAS could be a part of facilitating this. Education in the public and private spheres around the processes and benefits of life cycle thinking is key to building and maintaining sustainable systems that harmonise the industrial and natural worlds so outreach programs from the society in clear, easy to comprehend language would be very beneficial.