Part 2 of our Net Zero Carbon building block webinar series was held this month and the focus was on the need to reduce emissions. Whilst sourcing renewable energy, and offsetting residual emissions through appropriate carbon removals projects are important, these do not replace the need for significant reductions in emissions. Emerging standards and guidance are starting to put figures around the scale of reductions businesses need to be achieving. Importantly, reductions must incorporate an element of scope 3 emissions also.
2050 may be the ultimate target date for Net Zero Carbon but science has shown that we must achieve deep reduction in carbon emissions at scale over the next decade if we are to avoid exceeding the carbon budget and prevent the most catastrophic impacts of warming. The carbon budget is the total cumulative emissions that can be reached over a period of time if we are to keep within a certain threshold of temperature warming.
Scientists have made it clear that warming must be limited to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. As carbon emissions stay in the atmosphere, what we do in the near-term matters. We must take action now and cannot afford to push all efforts much closer to the 2050 deadline.
I am asked time and time again by clients, if I have a green contract, surely I already have zero emissions? There are several problems with this viewpoint:
- Not all green contracts are equal – some suppliers offer very high-quality green contracts and can also demonstrate additionality (i.e., investment in additional renewable capacity). But this is not the case for all green contracts and the term ‘greenwashing’ has been used to reference those less credible offerings.
- There is not sufficient renewable capacity to meet demand – the option does not exist for all electricity usage to be supplied by renewable sources today. It is therefore incumbent on us all to reduce our emissions at the same time as the government invests in building additional renewable capacity, so that eventually supply and demand will meet.
- Electricity is not the only consideration – other sources of carbon emissions also need to be phased out such as those associated with use of gas, transport, refrigerants etc.
For these reasons, the need to embark on initiatives and projects which tangibly reduce our energy and carbon emissions remain the number one priority.
Here are some useful pointers for thinking about when looking at how to reduce your carbon emissions:
- Set a credible reduction target. There is now much guidance available from industry bodies about the scale of reduction needed. For commercial offices, both UK GBC and LETI have published intensity targets (kwh/m2) and other bodies for specific sectors are publishing similar guidance.
- For scope 1 and 2 emissions make sure that you are auditing to understand technological, procedural, and behavioral opportunities for reductions. Technology enables optimisation and efficiency of plant and equipment to be maximised, whilst procedural factors facilitate opportunity for change within an organisation. Behavioural factors help to develop motivation and capability within a company and ensure this gets embedded throughout, with everyone playing their part.
- When looking at technology do not forget about the importance of design and long-term planning. Too often we see like-for-like replacements which result in incremental efficiency improvements due to advancements in product efficiency, but often opportunity for even greater reduction is missed as design changes are not fully explored.
- Think about the phase-out of fossil fuels. There is not a ‘one size fits all’ solution – undertake a site-specific feasibility study to ensure the optimal solution is selected for the property.
- Ensure reduction projects also include scope 3 (indirect value chain) emissions. Scope 3 reduction initiatives can be far-ranging and require collaboration but are an essential part of the momentum required for us to achieve Net-Zero Carbon.
Finally, it is important to ensure your organisation has a roadmap, pulling all the opportunities identified from these measures into a robust plan and pathway. It is essential that the roadmap includes both near and long-term targets and measures, and that progress is regularly reviewed and reported.
Due to popular demand and high levels of interest, we are considering running this webinar again in 2022. For those who would like some valuable information ahead of then, that were unable to attend the webinars, please contact us for the webinar slide deck.
If you need more information or would like the support of our team of experts please get in touch.
Call: 01252 560 379