Greenhouse gases (GHGs) are gases that cause the planet to warm up by trapping heat in the earth’s atmosphere. They include carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide.
Today, conversations about greenhouse gas emissions are more frequent and highly emotive. And it's understandable as it revolves around the earth's sustainability and the existence of humanity. However, what's often lacking and a great contributor to inaction is context.
To give you some perspective, since the Industrial Revolution, greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere have increased by nearly 40%. As their concentration increases, they bring about global warming, climate change, and other environmental and societal issues have resulted.
With companies playing a key contributing role to the emissions problem, you have a responsibility to help address it. But contrary to what you may think, reducing greenhouse gas emissions may improve your company's finances and the environment.
Such initiatives have become a strategic objective due to the emergence of sustainable business practices and the demand for low-carbon products and services.
In this article, you’ll learn about GHG emissions, their effects, and how your company can minimize them. It’ll cover everything from understanding GHG emissions and their sources to building a GHG reduction strategy and executing steps that work for your firm.
Greenhouse gases (GHGs) are gases that cause the planet to warm up by trapping heat in the earth’s atmosphere. Along with carbon dioxide (CO2), the most common GHGs include methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O).
Natural processes like volcanic eruptions, wildfires, and human activities like burning fossil fuels and deforestation emit these gases into the atmosphere.
The largest contributor to GHG emissions is the use of fossil fuels such as oil, coal, and natural gas, accounting for 75%. Other notable contributors include land use changes like forest degradation, deforestation, and agriculture.
Accounting for 80% of all GHG emissions, CO2 is by far the most common. It's released into the atmosphere by industrial processes and the burning of fossil fuels.
At a distant second, methane accounts for roughly 16% of greenhouse gas emissions. CH4 reaches the atmosphere through fossil fuel production, agriculture, and wetland and rice paddy cultivation. In third, nitrous oxide contributes 6% of GHGs and is released to the atmosphere through livestock management and fertilizer use.
A person, organization, event, or product's carbon footprint is its overall greenhouse gas emissions. It comprises emissions from various sources, including transportation, energy, and manufacturing.
Reducing GHG emissions starts with understanding your organization's carbon footprint. The more insight you have about your company's emission sources and environmental effects will help you lessen the impact.
GHG emission reductions are advantageous for the environment and your organization's finances and bottom line. Here are some of the main reasons your organization should give priority to reducing greenhouse gas emissions:
To lower greenhouse gas emissions, several nations have established laws and programs. For instance, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) controls GHG emissions from significant industrial sources. In addition, companies must buy permits for their emissions under the Emissions Trading System (ETS) in the European Union.
You may ensure compliance with these laws and avert any fines and penalties by lowering your organization's GHG emissions.
Among the highest costs you incur is energy. As you work towards reducing emissions, your company's resource and energy consumption will decrease significantly. This comes through enhancing energy efficiency and waste reduction, thus lowering utility expenditures and operating expenses.
Furthermore, many clients and investors are seeking businesses that show a dedication to sustainability and environmental care. Therefore, your company may boost its reputation and get the support of these stakeholders by lowering its GHG emissions, which might ultimately result in more sales and expansion prospects.
In a highly competitive business landscape, any advantage you get over rivals is welcome. And this is what reducing GHG emissions brings. Companies that emphasize reducing GHG emissions will be better positioned to satisfy this demand as consumers and investors demand sustainable goods and services.
Companies that cut their greenhouse gas emissions are also more likely to be regarded as industry leaders and draw top people who are enthusiastic about environmental problems.
As a business, you face numerous risks, including supply chain disruptions and extreme weather, which are intertwined with climate change. By working towards becoming more sustainable, you’ll also build resilience against such occurrences.
Furthermore, if all organizations embrace such efforts, the risk of such events occurring in the future will reduce.
If your organization has yet to take proactive steps to address greenhouse gas emissions, starting may seem challenging. However, the path toward net zero can be straightforward with the right strategy. Some of the steps you should follow in your path to reduce emissions include:
Doing a GHG inventory is the first step in creating a strategy to reduce GHG emissions. A GHG inventory will help you find out where and how much greenhouse gas emissions are coming from your company's activities, including direct emissions from things like burning fossil fuels and indirect emissions from things like buying energy.
Once you have a thorough picture of your organization's greenhouse gas emissions, you can set reduction objectives and order emission-reducing initiatives.
A key stage in creating a GHG reduction plan is setting reduction objectives. Reduction goals should be comprehensive, quantifiable, and attainable. More importantly, they should be consistent with your company's broader sustainability objectives.
Consider both short-term and long-term objectives while establishing reduction targets. Long-term goals may guarantee that your company is on track to fulfill its overall sustainability objectives. In contrast, short-term goals can assist your organization in gaining momentum and showing progress.
Once you’ve set your goals, prioritize the measures that will enable you to achieve them. Otherwise, you’ll gradually move off track. Consider the following actions to avoid this:
The individual conditions and emissions sources of your firm will determine the initiatives you should prioritize. To find out which activities will have the most significant impact on lowering emissions while also being cost-effective, think about performing a cost-benefit analysis.
To meet your reduction goals, you must put your GHG reduction strategy into practice. Give responsibilities for carrying out particular actions, and create a mechanism for keeping track of advancement.
Track and report on your progress toward your reduction target regularly. Also, don't be afraid to alter your plan to make sure you are on pace to reach your objectives when necessary.
Building support and momentum for your sustainability goals is critical for their success. However, your efforts will not gain momentum unless you have sufficient buy-in from shareholders, management, and employees.
You can garner support by including workers and stakeholders in your organization's GHG reduction initiatives. Consider creating a task force or committee on sustainability with participation from staff members at all organizational levels.
Furthermore, consistently share your GHG reduction objectives and achievements with clients, investors, and other stakeholders. This might serve as evidence of your company's dedication to environmental stewardship and sustainability.
Consider these methods as a key part of creating a thorough GHG reduction strategy that will assist you in achieving your sustainability goals.
Implementing your GHG reduction strategy is crucial to meeting your goals. You can reduce your organization's GHG emissions with these steps:
Enhancing energy efficiency is one of the best strategies to minimize GHG emissions. Begin by performing energy audits to uncover ways to save energy in lighting, HVAC, and equipment. Easy options include installing LED lighting, energy-efficient appliances, and weatherproofing.
Renewable energy sources like solar, wind and geothermal energy can minimize your company's fossil fuel use and GHG emissions. Consider installing solar panels or wind turbines on-site or buying renewable energy credits or contracts from renewable energy providers.
Beyond being a notable contributor to GHG emissions, the idea of waste in a corporation is never welcome. However, as you put in place measures to use resources more efficiently, you'll be surprised by the amount of waste.
Reducing garbage and enhancing recycling and composting reduces GHG emissions. You can achieve this by reducing paper use and recycling. In addition, avoid landfilling outdated equipment by donating or recycling it.
Reducing corporate travel and boosting sustainable mobility can cut GHG emissions significantly. And as a bonus, it’ll also reduce your expenditure, and it's not difficult to achieve.
Some steps to achieve this include promoting public transit, carpooling, and biking to work. You can also encourage sustainable transportation through transit subsidies or bike parking.
As mentioned, part of your carbon footprint comes from vendors and suppliers. Therefore, in your efforts to go green, you must encourage the same from other businesses you deal with.
As such, you should choose low-carbon items to promote sustainable buying. Consider buying recycled items or eco-friendly packaging. Choose green suppliers.
It's not enough to have the best GHG reduction strategies to achieve your objectives. As such, you must measure your efforts to have meaningful results. One way to accomplish this is to employ a tracking system to measure and report your reduction objectives. Doing so also lets you know how to alter your plan to accomplish your goals.
Efforts aimed at getting to net zero require collaborative efforts from all stakeholders. As such, it’s crucial to maintain buy-in by sharing victories with staff, customers, and shareholders.
Showing appreciation will drive staff to keep working toward your sustainability targets, and publicizing accomplishments can boost your organization's GHG reduction efforts.
As you can imagine, you’ll encounter several challenges as you aim to reduce greenhouse emissions. Understanding these challenges and how you can overcome them as you begin will save you a lot of time and resources.
Such challenges include:
Prioritizing and implementing GHG reduction initiatives requires leadership support. Engage leadership in talks regarding GHG reduction's cost savings, reputation improvements, and business cases to remove this obstacle.
Organizations with limited resources may struggle to reduce GHG emissions. Yet, shutting off lights and equipment when not in use and adopting behavioral change initiatives to promote sustainability are generally low-cost or free.
Many organizations lack the skills and resources to create and implement GHG reduction programs. To overcome this hurdle, try teaming with consultants or sustainability professionals to design a customized GHG reduction strategy or engage in staff training to develop in-house knowledge.
Organizations may hesitate to adopt long-term GHG reduction measures due to regulatory uncertainty. Yet, reducing GHG emissions today might help your company comply with future rules.
Without data and monitoring tools, GHG reduction objectives can be hard to follow and improve. You can overcome this by adopting effective data tracking and reporting tools. The insight you’ll get will help you recognize and overcome hurdles before they become an issue.
On your path to reducing GHG emissions, technology is your greatest ally. Some of the technologies you should consider include:
Energy-efficient devices reduce energy use and GHG emissions. Upgrades to energy-efficient lighting and HVAC systems, energy management systems, smart controls, and sensors can minimize energy usage and emissions.
Renewable energy sources, including solar, wind, and hydropower, cut GHG emissions. To minimize power consumption emissions, organizations can build renewable energy systems or buy renewable energy off-site.
Transportation emits lots of GHGs. You can minimize transportation emissions by adopting fuel-efficient cars, installing telematics systems to optimize routes and fuel use, and supporting public transit, carpooling, and cycling.
Data analytics and machine learning may help firms find and optimize GHG reduction solutions. By examining energy and resource consumption, emissions, and other data, you can boost your reduction plans.
Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) devices absorb and store industrial carbon dioxide emissions, lowering GHG emissions. Some of the sectors that use CCS devices include power generation, cement, and steel production using CCS.
To maximize impact, technology should be utilized in combination with behavioral change initiatives and supply chain participation.
Supplier networks can emit GHGs for companies. So, enterprises must include suppliers in GHG reduction. Supply chain participation reduces GHGs for these reasons:
Scope 3 emissions include GHG emissions from acquired goods and services, transportation, and product disposal. These emissions can make up a large portion of an organization's emissions. However, organizations may cut scope 3 emissions and meet objectives by involving suppliers in GHG reduction.
Extreme weather, water shortages, and other climate-related consequences can disrupt supply chains, raise prices, and restrict availability. Institutions may protect their supply chains by helping suppliers cut emissions and adapt to climate change.
Supplier involvement in GHG reduction may boost collaboration and innovation. Organizations and suppliers can collaborate to decrease supply chain emissions. Suppliers may have innovative technology or techniques that cut manufacturing emissions, thus aiding your efforts.
Lastly, engaging suppliers in GHG reduction can provide firms with a competitive edge. GHG reduction leaders can attract environmentally aware customers and investment.
In conclusion, organizations that aim to reduce GHGs and minimize climate risks must include suppliers. Organizations and suppliers may decrease emissions, collaborate, and innovate by working together.
Despite the challenges, several organizations have effectively reduced greenhouse gas emissions. They serve as great inspiration for other companies and include:
Ikea aims to cut more GHG emissions than they produce by 2030. They have reduced GHGs through energy efficiency, renewable energy, and sustainable mobility. They also engage in furniture rental and recycling initiatives. Since 2016, Ikea has cut GHG emissions by 43%.
Along with being the biggest search engine, Google wants 100% renewable energy by 2030. They have reached this objective for their data centers, offices, and manufacturing facilities and are working toward it for their supply chain.
The company also promotes sustainable mobility, energy efficiency, and carbon offsets. As a result, Google has been carbon neutral since 2007 and has cut its carbon footprint by 40% since 2017.
P&G wants net-zero emissions by 2040. P&G uses renewable energy, reduces manufacturing energy and water usage, and designs sustainable products to meet this aim. They are also working with suppliers to cut GHG emissions by 50% by 2030. During 2010, P&G cut GHG emissions by 16%.
Another company leading the charge to reduce GHG emissions is tech giant Apple. It aims to be carbon neutral by 2030. To achieve this, they reduced GHGs by switching to 100% renewable energy for operations and suppliers, enhancing product energy efficiency, and investing in carbon removal programs.
They are also working with suppliers to cut GHG emissions by 75% by 2030. Since 2015, Apple has cut its GHG emissions by 35%.
Veritas Technologies is dedicated to lowering its GHG emissions and has put a variety of measures in place to do so. The company’s GHG reduction goals were submitted and approved by the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi). The targets covering GHG emissions from Veritas operations (Scopes 1 and 2) are consistent with reductions required to keep warming to 1.5°C, which is what the latest climate science has indicated is needed to prevent the most damaging effects of climate change. The Veritas target for the emissions from its value chain (Scope 3) meet the SBTi’s criteria for ambitious value chain goals, meaning they are in line with the current best practice. The company has reduced office space and implemented energy efficiency measures in offices and used virtualization technologies to cut down on the number of physical servers required.
Additional sustainability efforts include developing environmentally friendly product design. As a result, Veritas Technologies is reducing its environmental impact, adding value for its stakeholders, and fostering a more sustainable future by incorporating sustainability into its business operations.
Greenhouse gases (GHGs) are gases that cause the planet to warm up by trapping heat in the earth’s atmosphere. They include carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide.
Reducing GHG helps mitigate the threats of rising sea levels, harsh weather, and biodiversity loss. Moreover, energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy demand can boost the economy.
GHG reduction options include energy efficiency improvements, renewable energy purchases, sustainable mobility, and carbon offset programs. They can establish aggressive GHG reduction objectives and include suppliers and customers.
Organizations may struggle with finance, stakeholder engagement, and regulations. In addition, measuring and reporting GHG emissions and reductions is challenging.
Carbon pricing and renewable energy standards can encourage firms to cut GHG emissions and level the playing field. In addition, policies can boost low-carbon technology innovation and investment.