In recent years, there has been a lot of discussion about net zero targets - what they are, how to achieve them and who should be involved. Net zero targets involve reducing GHG emissions to the point where the amount of global emissions released annually is equal to the amount of greenhouse gases that can be absorbed by trees, soils and other natural systems. Though there is still discussion as to who should be held accountable for creating and meeting these goals, it's obvious that we all have a role to play if we want to make substantial strides in the battle against global warming.
Net zero GHG emissions refer to the balance between the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere and the number of greenhouse gases removed from the atmosphere. To achieve net zero global GHG emissions, the amount of greenhouse gases released must be balanced by an equal amount of greenhouse gases removed. This can be done through a combination of reducing carbon dioxide and implementing measures to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, such as reforestation and carbon capture and storage.
Net zero emissions is a goal that many governments, organisations, and businesses are working towards in order to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change. By achieving net zero GHG emissions, it is hoped that the global temperature can be stabilised and the worst impacts of global warming can be avoided.
Net zero targets are goals that countries, organisations, or businesses set to achieve net zero GHG emissions. These targets can be set at various time horizons, such as 10, 20, or 50 years in the future. Some examples of net zero targets include:
Net zero targets are an important part of efforts to mitigate climate change, as they provide a clear goal to work towards and help to guide policy and action. However, achieving these targets will require significant effort and investments in low-carbon technologies and practices, as well as changes to individual and societal behaviour.
Net zero emissions targets offer a range of benefits, including:
There is ongoing debate surrounding the responsibility for setting and achieving net zero targets. While some argue that governments should assume this responsibility, others believe that businesses and individuals also have a role to play.
There are several advantages to involving businesses and individuals in the pursuit of net zero emissions targets. Businesses, for example, have the capacity to innovate and identify new ways to reduce their GHG emissions. They can also work together across sectors to share best practices and ideas. Individual citizens can also make a significant contribution through the reduction of their own carbon dioxide emissions and the advocacy for change.
Governments can facilitate cooperation between all sectors, but ultimately, the participation of all stakeholders will be necessary to make meaningful progress in limiting global warming.
In order to set realistic and effective net zero targets, it is important to consider the specific roles and responsibilities of each player in the ecosystem. This is because achieving these targets requires a comprehensive, cross-sectoral transformation, which may be difficult to achieve without coordination.
Achieving net zero emissions at the governmental and regional level can be a complex and challenging task. It requires a comprehensive, cross-sectoral transformation, which may be hindered by supply chain complexity. In addition, the implementation of a reduction action plan may necessitate changes to existing legislation, as well as the creation of new communication channels to facilitate coordination and cooperation in the measurement process. Overall, the successful pursuit of net zero emissions goals will require strong leadership, clear direction, and effective collaboration among various stakeholders.
It is important not to underestimate the potential of the public sector to accelerate decarbonisation efforts. As McKinsey reports, based on collected data on government spending from the G20 countries:
“Public-sector spending accounts for 47% of GDP in the European Union, 44% in the United States, 39% in Japan, and 18% in India. Reducing public-sector emissions could be a vital component of most national decarbonisation strategies. Public-sector entities could help to scale up solutions and to increase demand for low-carbon products and services by including their supply chains in decarbonisation efforts.”
Organisations in the public sector that have created a greenhouse gas inventory are better suited to take part in decision-making and formulating standards for other stakeholders. As such, the development of a reliable carbon accounting system is a crucial prerequisite for achieving net zero emissions at all levels of governance.
Climate Pledge Programs (UN Global Impact, UN Race to Zero Campaign, C40 Cities, The Climate Pledge, SME Exponential Race to Zero, etc.) can play an essential role in sharing best practices and stimulating investment in the development of low-carbon products and services. Net zero emissions targets can serve as a valuable resource for leaders as they develop carbon reduction plans that align with existing reporting requirements. In addition, these targets can provide guidance for the implementation of relevant policies. Furthermore, they serve as a central hub for the sharing of knowledge and the pooling of collective efforts, facilitating the exchange of experiences and best practices among stakeholders.
With the collaboration of public institutions, businesses, and individuals as well as NGOs, we can create climate pledge programs that provide concrete goals to accomplish our environmental objectives.
The growing trend of individuals and communities setting net zero targets reflects an increased awareness and desire to take responsibility for their actions and mitigate the impacts of climate change. This trend is likely driven by the increasing accessibility of information about environmental issues and the direct impacts of climate change on individuals and communities. The influence and potential for individuals to effect positive change should not be underestimated.
According to a study by Nielsen, 66% of global consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable goods, and 56% said they would switch to a brand that is associated with a good cause.
The younger generations are leading the charge on this trend due to their heightened sense of social responsibility and commitment to environmental causes. In fact, 91% of millennials say they would switch brands to one that is associated with a good cause.
Net zero targets are being achieved in many inspiring ways. For instance, individuals and communities have set the bar high by leading the way with examples such as:
- The city of Berkeley in the US, which has committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2045
- The UK village of Tyndallton, which has set a target of net zero emissions by 2030
- The Canadian town of Hudson, which has set a target of net zero emissions by 2050
Evidently, net zero targets can vary from towns to cities and even individual households. This demonstrates the potential for attaining this goal on a large or small scale.
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Businesses are key actors in the transition to a net zero emissions economy, given their significant contribution to global emissions and their ability to effect change through both policy advocacy and operational improvements.
Here are some ways that businesses can support the transition to a net zero economy:
Leading businesses are already taking action on climate change, and there is a growing number of companies setting science-based targets for emissions reduction.
As of December 2021, the Science Based Targets Network (SBTN) has approved the science-based targets of over 1,600 companies. The SBTN is a collaboration between the UN Global Compact, the World Resources Institute (WRI), the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), and CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project), and it works with companies to set and implement science-based targets for reducing their carbon dioxide emissions.
In addition to the companies that have set science-based targets through the SBTN, there may be other companies that have set their own science-based targets or that are working towards science-based targets initiative settings in some other way.
Businesses need help to set and achieve their net zero targets, and carbon management platforms like Net0 can play a significant role in this process.
Setting net zero targets, committing to achieving them by implementing sustainable strategies, tracking the progress and reporting on carbon reduction can be a complex and time-consuming process. However, by using automated tools such as Net0, businesses can make this process simpler and more efficient.
Net0 provides a cloud-based platform that businesses can use to track and manage their emissions. The platform includes a wide range of features, with the following being particularly useful for setting and achieving climate goals:
Suppliers have a vital role to play in the setting of net zero targets and the transition to a net zero economy. In particular, they can help businesses to understand their emissions footprint and set ambitious yet achievable reduction targets.
Here are four ways in which suppliers can support businesses in their transition towards net zero emissions:
There are many companies that have started working with their suppliers to achieve net zero targets:
According to the CDP, Scope 3 emissions, on average, account for approximately 80% of a company's total carbon footprint. As such, it is essential for companies to collect data from their suppliers and business partners to accurately set targets for reducing their carbon emissions. However, some executives may view the process of collecting and analysing Scope 3 data as a significant obstacle to implementing carbon accounting. The use of AI-powered data analysis can greatly facilitate this process.
“AI’s unique capacity to gather, complete, and interpret large, complex data sets [that] can help stakeholders take a more informed and data-driven approach to combat carbon emissions and addressing climate risks.” - Hamid Maher, managing director and partner at BCG and BCG GAMMA, and a co-author of the AI For The Planet Report.
Business leaders charged with taking action on AI and the environment realise that Artificial Intelligence will be critical in overcoming our climatic difficulties.
“A research carried out by the Drax Group [...] revealed that 85% of the key decision-makers in the manufacturing sector consider data analysis a top priority within the plan for reaching net zero, but fewer than half (42%) cited a lack of data analysis knowledge within the business as a barrier to implementing the needed change.” - EPTDA (Leading Executive Association For Power Transmission Motion Control)
EPTDA, the leading European network of 230 vendors and suppliers across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, strongly encourages executives to rapidly embrace automation for a smoother transition.
The network highlights the importance of using artificial intelligence-powered data measurement and analytics in the supply chain, specifically:
Net0’s software addresses the need for speed, transparency, and collaboration in data collection by providing a platform that is easy to use, quick to implement, and that offers real-time visibility into progress for all players in the supply chain.
Net0’s vendor outreach programme allows businesses to effectively communicate with vendors, collect data in a structured and efficient way and invite suppliers directly to the platform to collaborate when it comes to creating effective strategies.
Net0's platform enables reporting entities to onboard thousands of vendors throughout their supply chain. In this way, companies can outsource parts of the carbon accounting process. Instead of one person being responsible for all management, it makes the data collection a collaborative process. However, the software can be utilised either way to suit your preferences.
What is more, Net0 sends automated reminders to vendors so the reporting company can obtain accurate scope 3 data for an activity-based carbon accounting methodology at a granular level. Real-time access to GHG inventories and reports enables the company to provide full transparency and track its progress easily.
Net0 helps large businesses and governments become carbon neutral by providing an easy-to-use, fully automated solution. Net0’s comprehensive software enables emissions measurement and reduction planning, one-click carbon offsets fore residual emissions, stakeholder reporting and regulatory compliance.
If you are interested in exploring automation for your climate management efforts and reducing emissions, we invite you to schedule a demo of Net0's software. Our platform is user-friendly and allows for the efficient collection of data from suppliers. It provides real-time transparency into progress across the supply chain and is designed for easy implementation.
Climate change mitigation efforts require the participation of governments, businesses, suppliers, and consumers. Governments must establish frameworks for businesses to operate within, set emissions reduction targets, and implement policies that encourage sustainable business practices. Businesses must evaluate their carbon footprint and implement strategies to cut carbon emissions. Suppliers must provide products and services that contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, while consumers must be conscious of the environmental impact of their purchasing decisions. By collaborating, we can create a more sustainable future.
Please don't hesitate to contact us to learn more about how we can assist you in meeting your carbon reduction objectives.