The average global temperature has risen by more than 1°C since the 1850s, with the hottest years being recorded in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. For the UK, all of the ten warmest years on record have occurred since 2002. A key finding from the most recent 6th Assessment Report suggest that we are set to pass 1.5C warming by 2040.
The 1.5°C is the target limit set out in the Paris Agreement in 2015. This agreement aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by limiting global temperature rise in the 21st century to 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to curb it further to an increase of 1.5°C. Unfortunately, if we don’t act now on achieving net zero by 2050, it looks as though this target is not achievable.
So what is Net Zero?
Net Zero refers to a state in which the greenhouse gases going into the atmosphere are balanced by removal out of the atmosphere. The ‘net’ in net zero is important because it will be very difficult for a single company or country to reduce all emissions to zero on the timescale needed. However, for this to be effective, it must be permanent change where greenhouse gas emissions cannot later be leaked into the atmosphere such as through deforestation.
This differs from Carbon Neutral which means a company’s net contribution to Co2 emissions is zero. This is achieved by offsetting Co2 emissions. Rather than acting to reduce emissions, a company will continue to emit the same level of CO2 emissions but will offset in order to be carbon neutral. Whilst any offsetting is better than not doing anything, its not a valid end state target.
Who is this meant for?
Any company can work towards a goal of net zero. Several industries have their own initiatives to lead their peers towards the same end goal. For environmental companies such as Landmark, we can sign up to “Pledge to Net Zero” initiative which is designed for environmental companies. For law firms, the Law Society has their own guidance on how it wants law firms to work towards net zero. Its important for any industry/business to look into how this can be achieved so we can collectively achieve this target.
Where do I start?
There are lots of guidance out there- the main guidance to follow is the greenhouse gas protocol which provides guidance on what data is required to understand your carbon emissions. If you have an environmental management policy already, you may have started to collect data.
What should I be recording?
The GHG protocol has defined three scopes of emissions.
Scope 1- are emissions from owned or controlled sources such as from space heating, building refrigerants, company vehicles owned or leased.
Scope 2- are indirect emissions from the generation of purchased electricity, steam, heating, and cooling.
Scope 3- are all indirect emissions that occur in a company such as business travel, employee commuting, waste, purchased goods and services, capital goods, leased assets and investments.
Scope 1 and 2 are a mandatory part of reporting, with scope 3 being more voluntary however if it contributes to 40% of your overall emissions you will be expected to reduce this.
Issues around collecting data
Scope of reporting: When starting to collect data, you need to consider what is considered to be the Company. This is important if you are within or are an umbrella company or a division within a company.
Leased property: Also consider what is owned and what is leased and therefore not in your control. Its quite difficult to collect energy consumption data when you lease a property, as you tend to only get the service charge and not accurate data on energy used.
Baseline year: Consider the baseline year you want to start from. This can be difficult since COVID-19 affected many parts of usual business operations and therefore might not be a true reflection of your company’s carbon footprint. 2019 for instance might be a better baseline.
If you would like advice on net zero and the best ways to implement one, Landmark Information Group can help. Email email@example.com