What is Net Zero and How Do We Get There?

What is Net Zero and How Do We Get There?
Liam Berry

Liam Berry

Senior Writer

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It is now a fact that the world must reduce its emissions. In order to prevent the consequences of climate change, a Net Zero emissions structure has to become the centrefold of business operations. Many companies are now incorporating Net Zero goals into their mission statements. But what is Net Zero, and how do we get there?

Where to start your net zero journey

What does Net Zero mean?

Net Zero is a term both wide and specific, but ultimately it refers to a person, organisation or society reaching a state at which they’re putting in as much carbon as they’re taking out of the atmosphere. 

Carbon, in the form of carbon dioxide, is the primary greenhouse gas fuelling planetary heating and climate change. Therefore, by figuring out how to take out as much as we put in, our society can help to reduce the rate and impact of climate change on our world.

our world in data carbon emissions by sector
photo credit: ourworldindata.org

By now we have acknowledged that our society cannot function on zero emissions alone without severely hampering our safety, comfort and advancement. However, by finding or formulating a valid carbon scheme, companies can achieve Net Zero through the purchase of carbon credits in combination with the reduction of emissions.

In this article, we’ll explore how companies can achieve Net Zero, how to securely purchase carbon credits and the other important ways in which companies reduce carbon emissions on the road to carbon neutrality.

Carbon Offsetting:
How to Purchase Carbon Credits and Do It Reliably

Carbon offsetting is the process of reducing your company’s total emissions by contributing financially — or directly engaging in — efforts to remove carbon from the atmosphere and/or preventing it from getting there in the first place. For example, companies who partner with One Tribe can donate a small portion of each transaction to projects that protect and restore the world’s rainforests. Rainforests are some of the largest carbon capture mechanisms in the world thanks to their ability to store and process carbon.

Another example of how carbon offsetting might work is by providing communities engaging in high-carbon release activities with the technology to reduce those emissions. For example, by providing more energy efficient technology or building materials.

What’s equally important to the financial or direct contribution to carbon reduction or capture efforts is finding a reliable partner or methodology. For most businesses, the most cost-effective and useful way is using a partner organisation. Finding a trustworthy organisation will take some research, but a solid method is using trustworthy organisations like Charity Watch (if they’re a charitable organisation) or Investopedia’s guide to carbon offsetters.

How to Start Your Business on the Path to Net Zero

one tribe climate action stats

1) Evaluate your carbon output honestly and effectively

Whether done internally or through a partner organisation like Normative, calculating your carbon emissions effectively is the only way to ensure that your carbon offsetting and reduction efforts are sufficient to achieve Net Zero. Your first step for calculating your scope one (directly generated) and scope two (indirectly generated via power production) carbon emissions is to gather your energy consumption records via your company’s utility bills. Then you’ll need to convert your consumption into a useful measurement — the United Kingdom’s DEFRA has assembled a guide for conversion. Once you have that measurement, you can begin planning your path to Net Zero.

2) Design a plan to reduce unnecessary emissions and purchase credits for the remainder

The truth is that there is no more effective method of decarbonizing the atmosphere than preventing it from occurring in the first place. So, consider these methods for reducing your carbon footprint, like investing in more energy efficient vehicles and automating technology. Once you’ve determined which emissions are strictly necessary for your success, you can find a suitable partner to purchase carbon credits from, or engage directly in carbon offsetting practices to account for the remainder.

One Tribe can, of course, support businesses on their journey to Net Zero by decarbonising products and logistics through contributions to tree protection and conservation projects worldwide.

3) Create a lasting and sustainable Net Zero approach for your business

Being an eco-functional business means constantly reassessing with both your bottom line and your carbon impact in mind. Is one method of carbon reduction too expensive for your business? Find another one or look for other areas to reduce emissions. This will be a part of your quarterly, yearly and long-term business planning efforts. Just like your products, services and operations, pivoting is part of being a healthy business.

UK Net Zero Emission Targets for 2050

The UK government has set a goal of reaching Net Zero by 2050. It recognises the role SME’s have in contributing to emission reductions and  businesses are encouraged to review their carbon expenditure and reduction efforts. Starting your Net Zero journey now will not only meet future government regulation but will have a measurable contribution to achieving these Net Zero goals. 

In 2021, GOV UK released their Net Zero Strategy: Build Back Greener strategy. The supporting document sets out policies and proposals for decarbonising all sectors of the UK economy to meet net zero target by 2050. These assessments use different assumptions regarding the extent to which countries will meet their NDCs and the actions that will be taken by countries to reduce their emissions after 2030. 

It’s clear that it’s in your business’s best interest to begin these efforts immediately, not only to limit the environmental impact but it makes sense from a commercial perspective as well. According to Deloitte, UK consumers prefer climate-friendly companies, so swift action will also help establish a positive reputation for your brand. 

Why Certification is Important for Net Zero Businesses

To minimise the effects of climate change, businesses need to significantly reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and their total greenhouse gas emissions. Certification guarantees that businesses can reliably advocate the positive impact they are having on the planet.

PAS 2060

PAS 2060 is the only recognised international standard for carbon neutrality. It is a specification detailing how to demonstrate carbon neutrality produced and published by the British Standards Institution. Regardless of the industry, companies can use the PAS 2060 standard to strengthen customer relationships and to accurately promote sustainability. It is the only current certification that can specifically support Net Zero businesses. Therefore it is an important certification for businesses to look into when starting their Net Zero journey. 

For more on how to build carbon offsetting into your business model, check out how we work.

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