As climate concerns are being raised in the business community, through various brilliant campaigns such as B Corps’ Climate Collective Campaign, our role to help businesses understand what Net Zero means and how to get there, is becoming a crucial part of our business impact model and is intrinsic to creating positive climate action.
Our approach to tackling anthropogenic (human caused) climate change is part of a holistic strategy incorporating the Sustainable Development Goals. This also highlights the need for businesses, policy makers, NGOs and governments to take a fair and proportional share of the responsibility in reducing carbon, without placing that burden unfairly on the Global South; reflecting the necessity for climate action that also creates climate justice.
Definitions of the most commonly-used climate goals, adopted by Green Element and based on IPCC definitions, are as follows:
Carbon neutrality and net-zero carbon – Net zero carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are achieved when anthropogenic CO2 emissions are matched globally by anthropogenic CO2 removals over a specified period. Net zero CO2 emissions are also referred to as carbon neutrality; In this definition, only carbon dioxide emissions are considered.
Net-zero emissions – Net zero emissions are achieved when anthropogenic emissions of all 7 Kyoto greenhouse gases into the atmosphere are matched by anthropogenic removals of the same amount over a specified period.
Climate neutrality – Concept of a state in which human activities result in no net effect on the climate system. Achieving such a state would require matching residual emissions with emissions removal as well as accounting for regional or local bio-geophysical effects of human activities that affect local climates.
What is real net-zero?
Real net-zero emissions is where the world needs to get to around the middle of this century. It means greenhouse gas emissions through humankind’s activities will equal zero. The ‘net’ part here means that additional removals can be taken into account when calculating the total anthropogenic emissions. These carbon removals must:
- Take place by the reference time period
- Be in addition to any pre-existing removals systems, be they natural or anthropogenic
- Implement climate justice; be auditable and verified by climate scientists.
In September 2019, the ‘Business Ambition for 1.5°C’ campaign was launched: a joint effort of the Science Based Target initiative (SBTi), the We Mean Business Coalition and UN Global Compact to help companies map their routes to net-zero:
“The next decade is critical. By taking this pledge you are formalising your increased ambition and signalling your commitment to a zero emissions future to your peers, investors, policy makers, customers, suppliers, civil society organisations, and other stakeholders.” Business Ambition for 1.5°C, SBTi, United Nations Global Compact and We Mean Business Coalition.
Summary of How Businesses can take positive climate action
- Sign up to the Business Ambition for 1.5°C
- Set science-based targets
- Halve their Scopes 1 and 2 gross greenhouse gas emissions every 10 years.
- Create industry-wide and cross-sector climate cooperatives working together towards a shared goal: to rapidly accelerate decarbonisation.
Positive impact in 2020
The definitions of what is meant by these terms can vary hugely and at Green Element, we help companies navigate and understand these ambiguities by providing free access to resources, blogs and guides on these topics and we also support companies to develop their own business roadmap to achieve ‘real’ Net Zero.
In 2020, Green Element has helped 26 companies validate its SBT and is working with 5 others.
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