Zero first, then look at your Net

Get your business net zero strategy right by understanding the scope of your carbon foot print, then reducing it and offsetting what’s left.

The rate of businesses setting net-zero goals is multiplying rapidly. It wasn’t long ago you would struggle to find a business committed to measuring its carbon footprint, let alone getting to zero. And this can only be a good thing. As with all business claims and pronouncements, dig a little deeper and you will find everything from amazing efforts and progress, to empty claims and band wagon jumping.

First of all, what is it that is being reduced? The scope of carbon footprints is arguable for each business. With long and complex supply chains it is easy for some to wash their hands of emissions beyond the directly visible. Most business reporting is in large companies as regulation compels them to. This reveals that upstream emissions like those generated in the production and delivery of raw materials, and downstream emissions like the transportation and distribution of your goods and services, frequently combine to account for 75% plus of an organisation’s emissions. And these are often not in the net-zero commitments that are sprouting up.

Another common ploy of in the inauthentic is to declare they will achieve net-zero by 2050 or earlier, and worry about it later. Maybe technology will take care of it for them or they can increase emissions and match it with offsets. Hence the title of this blog. If the drivers for reducing emissions are customer, employee or investor pressure then this won’t cut the mustard. They will expect a range of short and long term reduction actions, with measurable targets to track progress.

It cannot do any harm to start offsetting early. The offsetting market is a bit like the wild west currently, so be careful to evaluate what you’re buying. Back to the subject though, the drive should be to offset what you cannot eliminate.

The business benefits of a ‘correct’ and rigorous approach? Bypassing the increasing regulation, and competitor pressure due to 25% making sustainability a priority in 2021 according to our research, doing it ‘right’ reduces brand and reputational risk. Trust is a difficult currency to acquire, and green washing with false claims and no genuine progress puts in jeopardy.


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