Achieving net-zero carbon emissions
Often regarded as the most feasible way to tackle climate change, the path for reaching net-zero carbon emissions was laid down by the United Nations Paris Agreement in 2015. Since then, 191 countries have signed the Agreement, which aims to reduce global warming to 1.5° Celsius, and pledged to reduce their carbon footprint by 2050.
Now that these governments have created the space for the private sector to hit this goal, companies who want to get ahead of the curve need a roadmap for getting there. We will provide that in this guide.
Definition: What is net-zero?
Carbon neutrality occurs when the removal of greenhouse gases balances out the production of greenhouse gases. This ensures that greenhouse gas levels remain the same and the global temperature does not rise beyond 1.5° Celsius. This does not mean eliminating the production of greenhouse gas. Instead, it's about ensuring a net-zero increase of carbon dioxide emissions to the environment.
Virtually every individual, organization, event, service, etc., has a carbon footprint, including your organization. As a company, you can either stop the activities that create greenhouse gases or invest in activities that reduce or eliminate the gases you have produced.
What are the most effective steps companies can take to reach net-zero carbon goals?
As a net-zero company, you can implement energy efficiency practices to neutralize the number of carbon emissions produced by your organization. The type of policies adopted by each company will differ based on the industry, geographical location, number of employees, services, and more.
Companies can take many steps to contribute towards a net-zero goal and emissions reduction. These steps can range from changing internal processes such as manufacturing and transportation to supporting the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) by installing EV charging stations. Here we list some of the practical actions that you can take to reach a net-zero carbon goal:
Rethink the entire value chain
In this day and age, supply chains are global. While companies might not produce greenhouse gases in their primary offices, the same cannot be said about the entire supply chain. Many companies outsource their production to factories in developing countries.
Based on the data provided by the UN in the Paris Agreement, China and India play a considerable role in contributing to global carbon emissions. To truly reach a net-zero goal, some companies may need to rethink some elements of their value chain. This includes factoring in the greenhouse emissions of global vendors.
This will first require greater transparency and understanding of the energy consumption in different locations. A possible solution for companies is to relocate to countries with higher reliance on renewable energy.
Tracking emissions is also key to understanding the root cause behind the problem. Due to the complexity of business models today, it can be tricky to predict which sources need to be improved to reduce CO2 emissions.
For example, a parcel delivery company found that one of the root causes of emissions is the independent delivery attempts made by delivery agents. They reduced their emissions by optimizing the route for delivery and using electric vehicles for the process.
The root cause will be different for each company, and tracking it down is the first step towards developing an effective strategy.
Installing EV charging stations
Setting up workplace EV charging stations will play a vital role in a company's dedication towards a net-zero goal. As per current estimates, over 125 million people will be driving electric vehicles by 2030.
Commercial charging stations can significantly promote this change by providing a convenient and affordable solution to employees while supporting net-zero goals. Smart charging can help optimize the cost and utilization of energy by creating a collaborative connection between the vehicle, the utility company, and the charging operator.
Through essential features such as dynamic power-sharing and power-boosting, energy efficiency is enhanced while minimizing an EV charging station's impact on the local power grid.
This also communicates the company's dedication to reducing global carbon emissions. Lack of workplace charging stations might result in employees' unwillingness to transition towards electric vehicles.
Plan for the future
According to studies, adopting science-based targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions has significant benefits for businesses. The most commonly reported benefits are increased brand reputation, investor confidence, savings, and innovation. Further, there is enough evidence of the favorable investment return on EV charging stations.
This will only increase demand for renewable energy as more countries pledge net-zero goals. The value of greenhouse gas-generating investments is going to reduce over time. Therefore, continuing to invest in such assets while ignoring sustainability will unduly harm your business in the long run. Implementing a net-zero target is in your best interest.
Align with an initiative
While becoming a net-zero company can be challenging, it is essential to remember that it is doable and has already been implemented by many companies. Joining an initiative can be an excellent first step if you are starting.
Net-zero initiatives bring together companies with a shared goal of reducing their carbon footprint. Initiatives help increase access to knowledge, promote innovation, and benefit your business.
A couple of examples include the RE100, a global initiative of the world's leading businesses that pledged to use 100% renewable electricity. Another example is the EP100 group of energy-smart companies committed to using energy strategy to reduce greenhouse gas production and decrease energy-related costs for companies.
Set up climate competent boards
Achieving the ambitious net-zero emissions by 2050 will require sound policy measures. Your company needs to have experienced members making internal policies and monitoring their impacts.
When companies take the net-zero pledge or "good pledge," they start thinking about effective corporate governance measures. An important step is to set up a competent climate board tasked with preparing a strategy for achieving net-zero company goals to increase the growth of the business.
Create awareness about net zero
Net-zero emissions can only work if all stakeholders act together. When collaborating with other like-minded organizations, companies can significantly shape the opinion of the regulators, policymakers, and the public at large.
Consider the example of Japan. In 2019, 93 Japanese companies lobbied to implement net-zero goals. This resulted in the government introducing a net-zero strategy. The more businesses that commit to it, the more likely others will join forces. Reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 is an ambitious goal. However, the good news is that it is possible, provided proper strategies are put in place now.
Depending on the industry, you can take many steps to reach a net-zero emissions goal. This starts with thinking from the ground up and optimizing each step of your value chain. You should set up competent climate boards in your company that create actionable plans to reduce carbon offsets.
Every company will have a different net-zero plan. To learn more about how Enel X Way can help you implement your net-zero emissions goals, reach out to us today.