Carbon neutrality refers to balancing greenhouse gas emissions and removal. It involves reducing emissions and removing CO2 to achieve this.
Imagine you're enjoying a latte in a coffee shop on a beautiful day. As you take a sip, you notice that the cup is made of compostable materials. You smile because you know the coffee shop cares about you and the planet.
However, there's a flip side. What about the business you run? Are you doing enough to reduce your effect on the environment?
As more people become aware of how severe the climate crisis is, businesses are being asked to do something about it. One of the most important ways to do this is to get to net zero. But first, you need to understand what “net zero” is and how your business can get to that point.
In this article, you’ll learn about achieving net zero from the point of view of an organization. Whether you're a business owner or a concerned employee, you'll learn why it's important, and how to get there.
So, grab a cup of coffee (in a compostable cup, of course), and let's get started.
As you enhance your efforts toward building a sustainable world, you must understand what net zero is. Here are a few things to note.
People often use the terms "net zero" and "carbon neutral" as if they mean the same thing, but they mean two different things. The term "net zero" means that there are no carbon emissions in a particular place.
Carbon neutrality, on the other hand, means that any carbon emissions are canceled out by the same amount of carbon being taken out of the air or stored. This means that even though there may still be some emissions, the overall balance is 0.
To get to net zero, you need to know the different kinds of emissions that make up your organization's carbon footprint. Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions are the three main types.
Once you know your organization's Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions, you can find ways to cut them and reach net zero.
Offsets are used to get companies to carbon neutrality. An offset is a project or action that reduces or eliminates greenhouse gas emissions from the air. For example, planting trees or putting money into renewable energy are examples of offsets. By buying offsets, organizations can make up for the emissions they make.
But it's important to remember that offsets should be used along with other ways to cut down on emissions, and they should only be used as a last resort when all other options have been researched and evaluated. Also, the quality of offsets can vary greatly. Therefore, it's essential to research and ensure the offsets you buy are high-quality and trustworthy.
As an organization, it’s understandable that all your efforts have some direct benefit. While efforts to reduce your carbon footprint may seem like a cost, they're an investment. Here's how it can benefit your organization.
Customers, investors, and workers want firms to address climate change. Having a net zero goal and working to reduce your emissions over time can help your company satisfy these expectations and show its environmental commitment.
Businesses face several hazards from climate change, from extreme weather to shifting legislation and customer preferences. As you work to reach your net zero goal and become carbon neutral along the way your risks will reduce while resilience improves.
Efforts to reduce emissions boost innovation, making your organization more competitive. By investing in renewable energy or electrifying your fleet, you may cut expenses and lead your industry.
Lastly, getting the world and companies to net zero is essential to addressing the climate crisis. Reduce your organization's carbon footprint to help limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and mitigate climate change.
Net Zero is morally right and great for business. You can satisfy stakeholder expectations, decrease risk and resilience, boost innovation and competitiveness, and help solve the climate issue by adopting climate action.
As you can imagine, achieving net zero emissions requires setting goals. It gives your organization a target and aligns your emissions reduction efforts with global climate goals. We'll discuss creating a net zero aim, making it aspirational and feasible, and communicating it to stakeholders in the next section.
First, it gives your company a goal. Prioritizing and measuring emissions reduction efforts might be challenging without a target. Targets may help your company concentrate and work toward a single objective.
Second, defining a target aligns your emissions reduction efforts with global climate goals. The Paris Agreement requires all sectors to reach net zero emissions by 2050 to reduce global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Your company may join this worldwide initiative and show its climate change commitment by establishing a net zero aim.
Lastly, a net zero goal can encourage internal and external stakeholders. For example, your organization's leadership and dedication to sustainability may attract and keep consumers, investors, and workers that share these values by expressing a clear and ambitious aim.
There are two key targets you can set with regard to your emissions goals. These are absolute and intensity-based net zero objectives.
Absolute goals measure an organization's total emissions independent of operations or output. Even if the organization expands or changes, the goal stays the same. An organization may aim to cut emissions by 50% by 2030, regardless of its growth.
Intensity-based objectives aim to adjust to the organization's activities or output. Therefore, an organization may aim to lower its emissions intensity by 50% by 2030, or emissions per unit of production.
Absolute and intensity-based objectives have pros and cons. Absolute targets, which require the business to eliminate a defined level of emissions, are simpler and clearer. However, as the company grows or evolves, it may take a lot of work to achieve.
In contrast, intensity-based objectives can adjust to changes in the organization's operations or output. However, these may be harder to express and require more data and computations to track development.
When selecting your aim, examine which type would be most relevant and feasible for your firm and effectively convey it to stakeholders.
As you set a net zero goal, ensure it's ambitious but achievable. Establishing unrealistic goals may demotivate and make stakeholder buy-in difficult.
Now that you have your targets, create a net zero plan for your company. Such a program will help your company make decisions and allocate resources to minimize greenhouse gas emissions and meet its objective.
To ensure everyone is aligned and dedicated to action, top leadership and front-line personnel must interact and collaborate.
Creating a net zero strategy requires reviewing your organization's carbon profile, finding emissions reduction possibilities, defining objectives and targets, and making an execution plan. Here’s how to go about it:
Identifying your organization's emissions sources—direct emissions from owned or controlled sources (Scope 1), indirect emissions from purchased energy, heat, or steam (Scope 2), and emissions from value chain activities (Scope 3) —is the first stage in building a carbon neutrality plan.
To begin with, you’ll need a greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory. This is a complete list of your organization's GHG emissions. The GHG inventory will help you assess your emissions and find opportunities for reduction.
All relevant emissions sources should be considered in a GHG inventory, including those with low absolute emissions. For example, some firms' emissions come from employee commutes, business travel, purchased products and services, and garbage disposal.
After identifying your organization's emissions sources, prioritize them by importance and emissions reduction potential. This will guarantee that your carbon neutrality efforts are ambitious and feasible by focusing on emissions reduction efforts where they can have the most significant impact.
The Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventories and the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Standard are free tools that may assist organizations in undertaking their own GHG inventories.
After identifying your organization's emissions sources, prioritize emissions reduction initiatives to reach net zero. This entails assessing each emissions source's potential, practicality, and cost-effectiveness.
This technique can assist firms in identifying "low-hanging fruit" emissions reduction solutions and those that may require more effort or innovation.
Prioritizing emissions reduction potential requires considering technical and non-technical hurdles. Renewable energy solutions may be theoretically possible but demand large upfront expenditures. Low-cost behavioral change strategies to minimize employee commute emissions may involve considerable company culture and employee behavior changes.
Prioritizing emissions reduction opportunities should involve employees, consumers, suppliers, and investors. This may guarantee that your carbon neutrality approach is aspirational and feasible and that everyone is on board and committed to action.
Overall, prioritizing emissions reduction possibilities allows you to target your net zero plan and maximize impact.
After prioritizing emissions reduction options, define milestones and objectives to measure progress toward carbon neutrality. Milestones and objectives promote accountability, openness, and organization-wide action.
Milestones help measure long-term success. For example, if your organization's net zero by 2050, you may establish interim goals of 50% emissions reduction by 2030 and 75% by 2040. In addition, your organization's structure and goals might determine emissions source, business unit, or geographic region milestones.
Goals are quantifiable targets that assist you in reaching carbon neutrality. Ensure you use the latest knowledge and best practices to inform ambitious but feasible targets.
As mentioned, targets are either absolute or intensity-based. Absolute aims include lowering emissions by 50% below a baseline year. Organizations that know their emissions baseline and believe they can reduce emissions employ absolute objectives.
Emissions per revenue or output are intensity-based objectives. It’s ideal for organizations with complicated emissions profiles or rapid expansion.
Setting milestones and objectives is crucial, but so is monitoring and reporting progress. This can assist in identifying areas that require more effort and illustrate the organization's commitment and progress toward carbon neutrality.
Reducing company emissions is part of a net zero approach. This might involve investing in renewable energy, improving energy efficiency, switching to low-emissions transportation, and working with suppliers and customers to minimize emissions across the value chain.
Engage stakeholders across the company and define roles and responsibilities to achieve carbon neutrality. Note that implementation and progress tracking may need a cross-functional team or task force.
Monitoring your net zero objectives requires measuring emissions and reporting progress. This can assist in identifying areas that require more effort and illustrate the organization's commitment and progress toward carbon neutrality.
Establish a thorough monitoring and reporting system that gathers emissions data from across the enterprise to measure progress. This may require designing systems to measure energy usage and emissions from buildings, transportation, and industrial operations and engaging suppliers and customers to gather emissions data along the value chain.
Monitoring milestones and objectives are as crucial as measuring emissions. This may entail tracking emissions reduction activities, business units, or geographic region objectives.
Moreover, you must regularly engage stakeholders to convey progress and maintain momentum. This may comprise frequent progress updates, workshops, and events with workers and stakeholders, including sharing success stories and best practices.
Lastly, as noted, offsets can help reach net zero. Nevertheless, they should only be employed when all other carbon reduction efforts have been exhausted.
Setting a target, completing a carbon footprint assessment, adopting emissions reduction strategies, monitoring and reporting progress, and investing in offsets when needed can help your company reach its goal.
As with most areas of business, technology is a great enabler for carbon reduction efforts. Modern technologies can minimize emissions in energy, transportation, and building operations. Some of the technologies you should explore include:
Organizations can benefit from these technology investments in the following ways:
While technologies that help you reduce carbon emissions are beneficial, you have to determine the ideal ones to help you reach your goals.
Veritas is renowned for its technology products, solutions and services. However, we’re about much more than business. Among our top priorities are sustainability and environmental protection while offering creative solutions to businesses of all sizes. Veritas aims to reduce absolute scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions 25% by FY2025 from a FY2019 base year. Veritas commits to reducing absolute scope 3 GHG emissions from business travel 19% by FY2025 from a FY2019 base year. The company also commits to reducing scope 3 GHG emissions from use of sold products 17% per appliance sold by FY2025 from a FY2019 base year, and commits that 50% of its suppliers by spend, covering purchased goods and services and capital goods, will have science-based targets by FY2025.
Veritas' strategy covers its entire value chain to reach its interim Science Based Targets.
In addition, Veritas’ products and software offer data deduplication and archiving solutions that can support customers reduce their environmental impact and improve their data storage and management.
Today, corporations must confront climate change.
Fortunately, investing in environmental sustainability comes with benefits for your organization. For example, it may improve your reputation, help you attract and keep consumers, and save money by embracing renewable energy sources, energy-efficient technology, and sustainable procurement methods.
As Veritas continues to address its impact on the environment and climate change, we’ll pursue setting our own net zero goal with a detailed plan. We are investing in promoting a sustainable future through our operations and products.
Carbon neutrality refers to balancing greenhouse gas emissions and removal. It involves reducing emissions and removing CO2 to achieve this.
Operations and supply chains have a big environmental impact. As a result, businesses may minimize their carbon footprint and help fight climate change by pursuing net zero. The efforts to enhance sustainability will boost your company's image and draw eco-conscious clients.
Establishing a carbon neutral goal includes assessing a business's greenhouse gas emissions and a plan to reduce or offset them. The objective should be ambitious but feasible and in line with the Paris Agreement and current science.
Carbon neutral technologies include wind and solar electricity, energy-efficient buildings and appliances, electric cars, and carbon capture and storage. These technologies minimize greenhouse gas emissions and promote sustainability.
Net zero technology may enhance your energy efficiency, carbon footprint, reputation, and customer loyalty, as well as long-term cost savings. Sustainability also helps firms prepare for environmental restrictions and customer preferences changes.