As we approach Net Zero Week (17th to 23rd July 2021), the focus is strongly on climate change and net zero, both of which were key topics in the June G7 meeting and will be discussed further at COP26 in Glasgow in November this year.
What is net zero and why is it important
Net zero is about reducing carbon emissions to the point where there is a zero overall contribution. The Government has set a target date of 2050 for the UK and is working to engage businesses in achieving this.
It is an essential element of addressing climate change. It is rapidly becoming a high priority for businesses leading the way in moving to a low carbon economy, as they find opportunities to achieve competitive advantage. An ESG (environmental, social and governance) framework is an increasingly popular way for businesses to evaluate who they want to work with or invest in.
Net zero scopes
Carbon emissions are generally measured using a standard called the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol and can be summarised into three scopes:
Scope 1: direct emissions released into the atmosphere as a direct result of an activity, such as gas for heating an office or fuel for operating a vehicle.
Scope 2: emissions created from producing the energy that a company uses. This can be made net zero if purchasing 100% renewable energy.
Scope 3: indirect emissions, generally the largest part of the carbon footprint. These might include transportation and distribution, waste generated, leased assets, business travel, employee commuting, purchased goods and services and water consumption.
Achieving carbon neutral status only covers scopes 1 and 2. To be carbon neutral, a business needs to offset the carbon they directly emit into the atmosphere and the emissions associated with generating the energy they are using.
Achieving net zero takes it one step further, covering scopes 1, 2 and 3 and is therefore more challenging to achieve. It involves more upfront work to collect data and requires more investment and buy in from all areas of a business.
What businesses can do
Not only is the Government stepping up the net zero agenda, but investors and customers are increasingly focussing on this topic too.
Many organisations are now signing up to investment programmes that use sustainability metrics as the key performance indicator. Millennials and, even more so, Generation Z are choosing brands to buy from and to work for that protect the environment and commit to reducing their carbon footprint.
There are steps you can take to reach net zero, including:
- Set up 100% renewable energy contracts
- Adopt energy efficient/energy saving equipment
- Consider renewable on-site generation
- Use data to identify where efficiency improvements can be made
- Move to electric vehicles
- Hold meetings virtually
- Implement behavioural changes from the top down
There are also undoubtedly financial benefits and increased profit margins for businesses implementing energy efficiency measures, especially those with energy intensive processes. The return on investment can be highly attractive.
One note of caution – beware “greenwashing”. When renewable energy is generated, each MWh generated produces one Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGO) certificate. These REGO certificates can then be sold on.
Some suppliers purchase enough REGO certificates from genuine renewable generators to cover themselves and market the tariff as 100% renewable. But the energy they are actually selling is generated from fossil fuels and other sources that are not renewable.
To find out more
At Control Energy Costs, we offer 100% genuine renewables energy contracts, as well as a range of services to support you in achieving your journey to net zero. We have produced a complimentary “Guide to Green” eBook, which you can download from our website.
Contact : Liam Conway