Climate science has called us out to take action and to transform our production patterns - to reduce our heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) and operate within the planetary boundaries. Global authorities responded. Following the Paris Agreement (2015), a legally binding climate change treaty adopted by 196 Parties at COP 21, a collective goal has been set. We need to reach net zero emissions by 2050 to limit global warming to 2, preferably 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.
In this article, we will:
Carbon is indeed a crucial metric to tackle climate change.
Carbon dioxide has been identified as the primary driver of climate change by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). CO2 remains longer in the atmosphere than the other major greenhouse gasses, which means what we release today sets the climate for our children and grandchildren. We need to reduce all GHGs, but for the reasons mentioned above, global efforts focus on reaching carbon neutrality first.
Carbon accounting is, therefore, key to taking the first step towards climate responsibility. As the measurement considers a company's entire supply chain (Scope 1,2,3), it creates the required climate awareness to implement an effective reduction plan.
Investor interests and demands are changing accordingly. As David Pitt-Watson, Leader of the Climate Accounting Project and a Fellow at Cambridge University’s Judge Business School, emphasises:
“Institutional investors have been clear that they want the companies they own to commit to a business model which is compatible with climate sustainability.”
If your company is still not convinced that climate action is needed, WMO’s Report State of the Global Climate 2021 provides a summary on the state of the climate indicators, including:
In the following, we will outline three facts that might make you finally act - and kick off your journey towards net zero emissions with Net0 emissions management software.
Earth Overshoot Day is hosted and calculated by the Global Footprint Network. This international research organisation provides decision-makers with a set of tools to help the human economy operate within Earth’s ecological limits. This year’s Earth Overshoot Day fell on July 28 and is calculated as follows:
(Earth’s Biocapacity / Humanity’s Ecological Footprint) x 365 = Earth Overshoot Day
On a city, state or national level, it is ‘easy’ to make up for resources that we cannot provide locally. We import - and thereby put more pressure on the ecosystems of other regions and countries. In fact, that is the only way to sustain the lifestyles of our ‘more developed countries’, whereby lifestyles also refer to our styles of doing business. In historical geography, the term spatial fix has been coined to describe how the (over)accumulation of capital in certain regions can only be maintained by spreading out over space (Harvey, 2001).
To give a practical example: Portugal consumes twice as much fish and seafood as the EU on average. In 2017, that was 56.8 kg per capita (The EU Fish Market Report 2019). Spain comes right after the Portuguese in their fish consumption. To supply the nation’s high demand, the coastlines of Mauritania and Senegal are conquered by massive vessels, through joint ventures with local fishermen or illegally.
Outsourcing certain business activities have always been attractive for profitability reasons (lower labour costs, fewer regulations, richer ecosystems, etc.). But now, with an increase in environmental regulations, outsourcing for the sake of reducing domestic emissions gained popularity as well. Well, international trade will always continue, but how can we ensure that we put more value out there than we destroy?
Because at a global level, we cannot import and ‘spatially fix’ the problem. We only have one planet.
2021 was one of the seven warmest years on record, according to six leading international datasets consolidated by the World Meteorological Organisation.
According to all datasets compiled by WMO, “the average global temperature in 2021 was about 1.11 °C (± 0.13) above the pre-industrial (1850-1900) levels. 2021 is the 7th consecutive year (2015-2021), with global temperature over 1°C above pre-industrial levels.”
WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas sums up what that exactly meant on a geographical level:
“The year 2021 will be remembered for a record-shattering temperature of nearly 50°C in Canada, comparable to the values reported in the hot Saharan Desert of Algeria, exceptional rainfall, and deadly flooding in Asia and Europe as well as drought in parts of Africa and South America. Climate change impacts and weather-related hazards had life-changing and devastating impacts on communities on every single continent.”
Trends expected to continue due to record levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
According to an earth.org study in 2019, oceans absorbed 90% of the heat gained by the planet between 1971 and 2010.
The world’s ocean covers around 70 per cent of the Earth’s surface. Thus, changes in water temperatures and currents considerably influence the weather locally to globally. Even though Interactions between the oceans and atmosphere are moving more slowly, and noticeable changes only occur after many months to years, the trends can persist for decades and centuries.
The ocean indeed plays a major role in storing carbon. It is the world’s largest carbon sink. Ocean Reviews, an NGO founded to raise public awareness of marine science and protection, explains:
“With around 38,000 gigatons (Gt) of carbon (1 gigaton = 1 billion tons), the ocean contains 16 times as much carbon as the terrestrial biosphere, that is all plant and the underlying soils on our planet.”
But for the reason mentioned earlier, we cannot ignore the effect of the large amounts of carbon dioxide our economy releases into the atmosphere. In 2019, that amount was 410.5±0.2 ppm (36.7 giga tons), which is 148% higher than in 1750. Methane is now at around 260% higher levels than that reference year, as the WMO reports.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) explains in their EPA Report 2022: Climate Change Indicators: Ocean:
“Warmer waters may promote the development of stronger storms in the tropics, which can cause property damage and loss of life. The impacts associated with sea level rise and stronger storm surges are especially relevant to coastal communities.”
Apart from that, dissolved carbon makes the ocean more acidic. Increased ocean acidity has a tremendous effect on the biodiversity and productivity of ocean ecosystems, disrupting entire food chains (UNEP Report 2019).
Net0 is an all-in-one AI-powered carbon accounting software helping large companies worldwide become net zero by providing an easy-to-use, fully automated solution.
The platform automates all key steps of carbon management by enabling:
Let us introduce Net0's measurement & reduction features.
By automating and simplifying the data collection process of carbon emissions across the entire supply chain, Net0’s carbon management platform gives instant insight into reduction possibilities.
A complete net zero strategy includes:
The software considers the guidelines from the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) to ensure that your carbon reduction plan aligns with climate science. Science-based targets are essential for data accuracy and a trustable carbon neutrality status.
Net0’s software enables teams to evaluate carbon reduction initiatives through a clear data representation and AI-powered scenario planning. The software helps to discover the most effective science-based reduction strategies for the short- and long-term, and to conduct cost-benefit analyses before committing.
Find more information here about reduction strategies:
• 13 Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
• Carbon Emissions and Mitigation Strategies
• Carbon Emissions in the Atmosphere and the Methods of Abating Emissions
• How to Reduce Upstream Emissions With the Gold Standard Framework for Supplier Engagement
Start today. Book a free demo with us. We are eager to show you how to simplify your net zero journey and automate the process of making a real difference. Net’s software has been designed to simplify your company’s net zero journey to the highest degree possible.
Stay tuned & climate-smart with Net0.
Other articles related to corporate climate action & accounting:
• What is Carbon Accounting?
• Are Net Zero Business Models The Future of Responsible Leadership?
• What Is Sustainable Business & What Are Their Practices?
• What is Blue Carbon?
This article is authored by Julia Ruff - Founder & Lead Trainer of JR | Regenerative Leadership, a consultancy agency & knowledge hub for Conscious Business & Leadership Development.
Cover photo: Pixabay