Around the world, many governments at all levels, corporations, property owners and investors have committed – and in some cases published plans – to achieve Net Zero carbon emissions over the coming decades, with some organisations pushing beyond Net Zero goals in the near future. Net Zero emissions was the target agreed upon at the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, to limit the rise in the planet’s temperature to less than 2o above pre-industrial levels.
Action needed now
The world currently generates 40 gigatonnes of carbon emissions annually. At that rate, we have eight years before temperatures potentially rise in excess of 1.5o and 26 years before rising more than 2o.
Against a backdrop of devastating bush fires across southern Australia, research presented by the ABC in February this year found that 84% of Australians believe climate change is real and requires action. Our own client satisfaction survey in March found that 80% of respondents agree that action on climate change is imperative, yet just 24% have begun their Net Zero journey.
We view Net Zero as an industry response to the market’s institutionalised failure to correctly price the impact of carbon into production around the world.
How to develop credible and achievable Net Zero plans
To help you move your business towards Net Zero, we have defined a straightforward approach, which is:
- Measure your carbon impact. We have many services to measure your energy usage, carbon intensity and footprint. This includes understanding your supply chain.
- Reduce emissions. We can provide advice on how to reduce your energy usage through energy efficiency.
- Promoting on-site renewable energy and electric vehicles. We have a suite of behind-the-meter solutions for renewable options.
- Procurement of offsite renewable energy.An area in the direct control of procurement teams is the adoption of renewable energy and carbon reduction goals and the implementation of energy contract purchasing methods that will deliver a tangible emission reduction.
- Offset through the surrender of carbon certificates. As a last step, offsets, Ensure the program you invest in is well governed and that your commitment fits with an externally verified emission reduction measure.
Making the business case
When putting forward your case for your Net Zero plans, you will need to guide decision-makers through considerable uncertainty to make an effective decision. Clearly articulating the following will assist:
- Define the current situation
- Explain why it is a matter of urgency to make a decision now;
- Describe the project, including its benefits and broader business outcomes;
- Provide the set of tools required to justify your recommendation; and.
- Make a clear recommendation.
A client survey we conducted in March 2020 found the most common motivators used in business cases comprise of:
- Government grants/funding,
- Reducing payback periods,
- Lowering upfront costs,
- Meeting stakeholder demands.
Direction from global head office and having industry leadership status were also cited as motivators.
We believe that businesses that don’t act now risk being left behind and damaging their reputation. To attract global capital, and to compete for increasingly well informed and motivated consumers, businesses need to consider some form of Net Zero commitment.
Our Net Zero journey
We have been on our own journey. We started by defining the scope of our emissions, identifying the areas where we could claim responsibility and take action. Next, we prepared a Sustainability Policy, which includes a commitment to reducing waste generated in our business to zero, and we educated all stakeholders in the business about what we were doing, why and how before we had this endorsed by our Board. Finally, we drafted our Net Zero Plan, which we submitted, together with the Sustainability Policy, to the leadership team, CEO and Board for endorsement.
Our plan includes National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) audits of all our tenancies, capturing data on our energy use, paper waste and business travel, as well as purchasing offsets where required. We have reduced emissions but not eliminated them as we have yet to review team members working from home and offsite. However, we expect to obtain Net Zero certification through the government’s Climate Action Plan before the end of 2020.
Here to help you
Our Sustainability Policy contains a commitment to assist our clients to manage their climate change risk through energy efficiency and renewable advice, and to manage their energy usage towards a low carbon economy. For example, we have prepared a free Net Zero planning template to help your business develop its own Net Zero plan.
It is important to be transparent to stakeholders about your Net Zero commitments, publish annual progress reports and either participate in a globally recognised program such as the Science Based Target Initiative or seek third-party certification. And remember to work with your advisors: no one can get there alone.