How to decarbonise your business

With the advent of the Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow in November 2021, the term “net zero by 2050” is getting lots of media coverage. But how relevant and important is this ambition and what’s the best way for a business to achieve it? The answer is that its very important and relevant for every business because the No. 1 cause of climate change is the combustion of fossil fuels which exist right throughout every company’s supply chain.

The science is clear. Without dramatic reductions in the use of fossil fuels, we will see untold destruction to our environment and continuing damage to people’s health and livelihoods. And the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement will fall quickly out of reach.” 

Kristalina Georgieva, MD of the IMF, Sept 2021 [2].

The term “decarbonisation” means the conversion of a business and society that sustainably reduces and compensates the emissions of carbon dioxide CO₂. The 3 interrelated and reinforcing elements of our decarbonisation strategy do this is the most cost effective way. They provide a credible and comparable approach to progress towards “net zero”, regardless of the business size, industry or geographic location. The strategy works equally well for micro businesses, SMEs and large corporations. The elements are derived from the Future-Fit Business Benchmark [6] which offers companies an open-source, holistic approach to sustainable business with twenty three break-even goals and positive pursuits. Your business can decarbonise by focusing on just three of these goals related to energy, greenhouse gases (GHG)s and products as follows:

  1. Deriving 100% of the company’s energy from renewable sources [7]
  2. Calculating and offsetting direct and energy indirect GHG emissions (Scope 1 and 2) with an optional extension into other indirect (Scope 3) emissions [9]
  3. Phasing out any products and services that force customers to emit GHGs [10]

While these steps might seem overwhelming at first, the beautiful simplicity of this strategy is that once started, the elements work together to become mutually reinforcing. Element 1 helps progress towards 2 and depending on your company’s activities, you might even fulfil element 3 straight away.  The steps in this strategy can be tackled simultaneously, in any order and at your own pace. Its entirely up to you and the owners and decision-makers of your business. Importantly, unlike other standards and certifications, there’s no obligation to report publicly unless you choose to do so.  Just embed this strategy into the business as the best road to decarbonisation over the coming years. Later on you may wish to report on your progress towards these goals via your website, sustainability report or the Future-Fit Pioneer Program [6] just as we have.

“Net zero by 2050”means that by the year 2050 the amount of greenhouse gases (GHGs) being released into the atmosphere by human activity is to be matched by an equivalent amount of CO2 being taken out. Through purchasing and investment in Cleantech [12] businesses can drive a much faster transition to a climate-safe world. But most businesses, despite their best efforts, will not have completely eliminated their GHGs due to technological and financial constraints. So as a short-term action there is an option to purchase the number of offsets equivalent to the total tonnes CO2 emitted. This will result in “net zero emissions” [13].

Further down the track

The full carbon footprint of your company includes other indirect emissions apart from those covered in Scope 1 and 2. These are classified as “Scope 3” [14]. If you want to claim that your company is “carbon neutral” you’ll need to offset the significant Scope 3 emissions as well as 1 and 2. The extra work involved depends on the type, size and complexity of the business, industry and supply chain. [14] [15].

Assess and control the risk that energy and GHGS pose to your industry and business by adopting the decarbonisation strategy above!

As a Certified Professional of the Future-Fit Business Benchmark and trainer of ISO14064 Greenhouse gases[18], Suzanne Orme is qualified to work alongside you to carry out these extra steps, drawing on the technical knowledge from a wide range of experts.

Any questions ?

Please direct any comments, suggestions or feedback to suzanne@enviroease.com.au

References

  1. IPCC 6th Assessment Report. Available from https://www.ipcc.ch/assessment-report/ar6/
  2. Georgieva, Kristalina, MD of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) except from speech at the High-Level Dialogue on Energy Under the auspices of the United Nations General Assembly, September 24, 2021 Available from https://www.imf.org/en/News/Articles/2021/09/24/unga-high-level-dialogue-on-energy
  3. O’Malley, Nick Oct 6 2021 Sydney Morning Herald, Pacific nations refuse to be canaries in the climate coal mine Available from
    https://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/pacific-nations-refuse-to-be-the-canary-in-the-climate-coal-mine-20211006-p58xrn.html?btis
  4. Morton, Adam, 24 Sept 2021 in The Guardian, Sun cable’s huge solar project in northern territory a step closer after support form Indonesia https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/sep/24/sun-cables-huge-solar-project-in-northern-territory-a-step-closer-after-support-from-indonesia
  5. Dennien, Matt, Oct 10 2021 Sydney Morning Herald, Fortescue unveils plan for world-leading green hydrogen hub in Qld. Available from https://www.smh.com.au/national/queensland/fortescue-unveils-plan-for-world-leading-green-hydrogen-hub-in-qld-20211010-p58yqb.html?btis

  6. Future-Fit Business website https://futurefitbusiness.org/

  7. Future-Fit Business, Action Guide BE01 Available from https://futurefitbusiness.org/goals/be01/

  8. Greenfleet website https://www.greenfleet.com.au/
  9. Future-Fit Business Action Guide BE06 Available from https://futurefitbusiness.org/goals/be06/

  10. Future-Fit Business Action Guide BE18 Available from https://futurefitbusiness.org/goals/be18/

  11. UN framework Convention on Climate Change, Race to Zero Available from https://racetozero.unfccc.int/
  12. National Cleantech Conference, Brisbane Feb 2022 website https://nctce.com.au/

  13. GHG Management Institute and Stockholm Environment Institute, Carbon Offset Guide
    https://www.offsetguide.org/high-quality-offsets/

  14. World Business Council for Sustainable Development and World Resources Institute, GHG Protocol Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard Available from https://ghgprotocol.org/corporate-standard
  15. World Business Council for Sustainable Development and World Resources Institute, GHG Protocol Scope 3 Accounting and Reporting Standard Available from https://ghgprotocol.org/standards/scope-3-standard
  16. Carbon active certification website
    https://www.climateactive.org.au/be-climate-active/certification

  17. National Greenhouse Accounts Factors, available from https://www.industry.gov.au/data-and-publications/national-greenhouse-accounts-factors-2021
  18. International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO), ISO14064-1:2018 Greenhouse gases – part 1: Specification with guidance at the organization level for quantification and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions and removals. Available for purchase at https://www.iso.org/standard/66453.html
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