Measurement & Analytics

On the Road to Net-Zero: Getting Started on your Carbon Management Journey

Businesses have a critical role to play in the worldwide fight against climate change. The global transport industry, for instance, accounts for 23% of total greenhouse gas emissions, with freight and logistics being the biggest contributors. If the world is to reach the Paris Climate Agreement target of limiting global temperature rises by 1.5°C above pre-industrialisation levels, businesses need to take accountability for their carbon footprints and start taking action now.

CO₂ emissions by sector. Source: IEA
Fixing the planet is good business

While it’s critical for the future of our planet that businesses take control of their emissions, sustainability initiatives can also have a positive impact on the business. Sustainable brands may enjoy enhanced consumer brand perception, and even more loyal customers. Companies with higher ESG scores attract better talent. Sustainable brands are more likely to gain access to investments, funds, tax credits and rebates. As the threat of climate change looms ever larger, the stakes are getting higher for businesses and consumers, and this is having an impact on the purchasing choices they make.

Businesses around the world are already making an impact

Between 2015 and 2020, companies with “science-based targets” cut their emissions by 25%, demonstrating that brands can make considerable impact by following clearly defined guidance and frameworks. For organisations looking to embark on a carbon reduction journey, guidance is available in the form of the Science Based Targets Initiative. SBTi equips businesses with best practices in line with reports from the IPCC (the UN body assessing the science related to climate change). These paths to reduce emissions allow businesses to work toward common global goals and ultimately lead the way to a low-carbon future for the planet.

How can businesses start to reduce their carbon footprint?

If companies are to successfully reduce their impact on global warming, there are three steps that should be followed:

  • Phase 1 - Measure the current carbon footprint of the business and wider supply chain

  • Phase 2 - Reduce the amount of carbon being emitted, for example by having a fleet operator switch to electric vehicles.

  • Phase 3 - Offset any unavoidable carbon emissions, for example by supporting engineered carbon removal initiatives, in which CO₂ is removed permanently from the atmosphere, e.g. by capturing it in specially treated concrete.

Getting started: how can businesses measure their carbon emissions

Before an organisation can get started with reduction and offsetting activities, they must first be able to paint a clear picture of their current carbon footprint. It’s important to understand that there are three different “scopes” of emissions, which we explore in more detail in our next blog.

These emission categories allow businesses to define focus areas where reduction initiatives can be successfully completed, and build strategies to approach each source of emission.

Continuing along the path to carbon reduction and offsetting

Carbon reduction can be achieved in many ways, spanning simple recycling initiatives and switching to clean energy, to overhauling suppliers for more sustainable alternatives.

Once — and only once — reduction measures have been decided, businesses should look into offsetting. Offsetting allows organisations to invest in environmental schemes with the goal of balancing an element of their emissions through external initiatives, normally managed and maintained by a third party. Offsetting is a successful means for businesses looking to address their residual emissions.

How technology is playing a key role in carbon footprint management

Technology helps to break down many of the barriers associated with getting started, and managing, the end-to-end carbon reduction process. It helps to bring together many of the disparate data sources available to a business and does much of the heavy lifting, making carbon initiatives more accessible, cost-effective, and agile.

Technology can also provide a holistic view of costs and opportunities across the entire business which enables better and faster decision-making. This ensures rapid time to value as well as an optimal user experience, so that companies can focus on what they do best: running their business as efficiently as possible, while reaping the rewards of successfully managing sustainability initiatives.

Next Blog: Carbon Measurement

In our next blog, we break down many of the complex themes surrounding carbon measurement, including Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions, approaches to carbon measurement, and why the software approach provides an edge over other methods.