Net Zero: The Basics
There is a growing need to adopt a new set of Sustainable Development Goals that aim to “Transform the World”. Change comes with collective effort, mutual understanding and knowledge toward specific goals.
Despite the UN and other international organisations making crucial decisions, the result is far from expected. It made me wonder what it is that we are falling short on? Is it the lack of interest or lack of awareness?
That’s when I had a eureka moment, and it suddenly started to make all sense. Many people don’t know the complicated terms and references that are used when we talk about sustainability. The idea inspired me to create a new series called “The ABCs of Sustainability Development”. I hope that this series of blogs is well received and serves its purpose.
We are all aware of the increasing climate crisis, but how many corporations and businesses are taking collective efforts to tackle the challenge? The proposed target of ‘Net Zero by 2050’ has become a global proposal for many companies and nations across the world. It aims to create an urgency toward climate ambition.
So what does Net Zero means? On a global level, Net Zero means a state of the environment where all the GHG emissions that are emitted due to human activities are absorbed by the nature. One of the ways to reach this target is to cut down the current emissions. This is relevant for the present as we don’t have technologies that absorb the current amount of global emissions. Therefore, the initial step toward the Net Zero target is to cut down the emissions from different sectors of society as much as possible.
It will be extremely challenging to eliminate all pollutants within the required timeframe, hence the “net” in net zero is crucial. We’ll probably have to ramp up reductions in addition to making significant and broad reductions in emissions. Net zero must be permanent to be successful, which means that any greenhouse gas reductions must not gradually seep into the environment due to things like the logging of forests or faulty carbon dioxide retention.
For the companies, it would mean assessing different stages of their operations and eliminating the sources of emissions. This is possible only when a company can eliminate emissions or use carbon removal technologies to neutralize the carbon emissions.
Standards for Net Zero
Net Zero can be defined differently, based on the sector and organization. Even though they all work towards a common goal, they differ slightly from each other.
In the long run, the organizations need to be in alignment with the Net Zero initiatives and goals of the business. Specific standards are developed that help sector secure relevant, action-based, and scientific ambitions of Net Zero. It is backed by strategies that help to navigate different international goals with Net Zero as well.
What are the basic requirements for a company to achieve Net Zero emissions?
- The companies need to align their immediate decarbonization efforts that contribute to the 1.5 C limit target,
- To incorporate emission reduction strategies at every point of the value-addition chain,
- Attempt to neutralize the residual emissions that cannot be eliminated at the operational level.
This would require the company to start setting strategies that align with 1.5-degree targets for the whole operation and supply chain. The companies need to start their short-term strategies that aim to be in line with 1.5-degree ambition.
Essential things that you need to know about Net Zero’s target
- It will be extremely challenging to eliminate all pollutants within the required timeframe, hence the “net” in net zero is crucial. We’ll probably have to ramp up reductions in addition to making significant and broad reductions in greenhouse gases. Net zero must be everlasting for it to be successful, which means that any GHG emission reductions must not gradually seep into the environment due to things like the logging of forests or faulty carbon dioxide retention.
- According to the Paris Agreement, with the UK committing to net zero, many companies are following the progress and setting goals that aim to decarbonize. By setting such objectives, the companies show their dedication to ensuring that they are firmly committed to meeting the standards. This will help them to reap the benefits of becoming a net zero company in the future as well.
- Setting up the goal of net zero is an essential step for any organization. Before the strategies are disclosed to the public, the businesses need to test out the details and see if they work before starting.
What is the UK government doing to meet the net zero?
In the UK, the Prime Minister has set the goal of progressing towards net-zero that any other major economy, by setting new ambitions in 2020 to reduce emissions by at least 68% by the end of the decade – considering the level of emissions in 1990.
To achieve this target, it is essential to create a behaviour shift in industries, businesses, and individuals. This would also require the government to create policies and incentives for society.
Another crucial aspect to achieving net-zero is the government policies, including the grants and taxes that reward green initiatives and alternatives.
How to achieve a net-zero target?
The answer to achieving reducing emissions started from assessing the areas of emissions, the quantity and kind of emissions produced in the total supply chain.
Your journey to decarbonization will be aided by adherence to PAS 2060, which encourages you to assess your environmental impact by classifying pollutants into scopes 1, 2, and 3. You must quantify, cut, and neutralize all scope 3 pollutants, which are typically hard to monitor, for your business to be carbon-free.
Even though it isn’t yet feasible to remove emissions, residual emissions can be offset, getting you closer to becoming carbon neutral and assisting you in your efforts to save the environment.