THE ROADMAP TO NET-ZERO: COMMIT, MEASURE, REDUCE AND CONTRIBUTE TO EMISSION REDUCTION PROJECTS
How can organizations such as the Women’s Forum and its members carry out concrete climate action?
Article written by ClimateSeed
Ahead of the much awaited COP26, businesses, organizations, territories and governments have joined the global campaign by setting their own climate targets and commitments to reach global net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Why do we need to reach net-zero?
Scientific research clearly indicates that we have to cut anthropogenic greenhouse-gas emissions by 50% by 2030 and reduce them to net zero by 2050 to meet the Paris Agreement’s Goals. To do so, both the private and public sectors will have to reduce their emissions and support decarbonization. Prioritizing reduction strategies is key to get as close to zero emissions as possible; however, to reach zero we will have to remove greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere by supporting natural carbon sinks and innovative technologies that capture carbon.
What can organizations do to contribute to reaching net-zero and climate equity?
As stated by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), we need to drastically reduce our emissions through both measurement and ambitious reduction strategies. SBTi guides corporate commitment and climate ambition through setting emissions reduction targets grounded in science, meaning that targets are aligned with the IPCC’s reduction pathways  , which limits global temperature rise to 1.5°C or well-below 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels. Reaching this target is key to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change that will affect the least responsible for it. This especially includes low-income and disadvantaged populations, such as women, the elderly, racial minorities, and marginalized ethnic groups. Reaching net-zero will not only reduce our risks related to climate change, but can also be key to build back the economy in a sustainable manner that will contribute to job creation and poverty reduction and support the most vulnerable through a just transition.
Organizations can contribute to reaching net-zero by first publicly committing to do so, measuring their GHG emissions and identifying their significant sources of emissions, setting reduction targets and timelines to reduce them, and lastly supporting carbon reduction projects to enhance and accelerate their actions today.
Corporates need to understand their impacts and responsibility towards climate change as well as their potential role and actions to fight it. The first step towards climate action is to acknowledge climate change and its urgency and commit to fighting it by setting concrete climate targets, as well as engaging their different stakeholders. When committing to fighting climate change, organizations should also incorporate targets to reach climate equity as both go hand-in-hand. A transition to a net-zero economy will also bring about a more equitable society as it will protect the world’s most vulnerable from the detrimental impact of climate change.
Today, The Women’s Forum for the Economy & Society works with its members through its Women4Climate Action Daring Circle to bridge the gender-climate nexus gap and the vital role women can play in creating an equal and sustainable economy to lead actions against climate change. Through its Charter for Engagement, The Women’s Forum aims to engage its community not only on climate action, but on gender-responsive climate action.
Organizations need to initially measure their emissions to understand their impact on global greenhouse gas emissions and identify key areas of reduction. Today, the most widely used and internationally recognized greenhouse gas accounting standard is the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol.
The GHG Protocol divides emission into three scopes (Scope 1, 2 and 3), which account for direct company emissions and indirect company emissions from upstream and downstream activities. All greenhouse gas emissions are expressed in tCO2e, tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, to include other greenhouse gases, such as methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O). Ideally, a company’s carbon footprint (Scope 1, 2, and 3) should be assessed once a year in order to track and measure company reduction target efforts.
Once a company has identified its emission hotspots, major sources of emissions, it can set emission reduction targets and objectives as part of its organization sustainability strategy. The SBTi provides companies with emission reduction guidelines, SBTi Criteria and Recommendations, which are in line with the Paris Agreement objectives. According to the initiative, Scope 1, 2, and 3 targets must be consistent with a level of decarbonization required to keep global temperature increase to well-below 2°C and pursue efforts to limit temperature rise to 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial temperatures. To reach this ambition, organizations should set medium and long term targets up to 2050. The SBTi recommends using the most ambitious decarbonization scenarios to reach the earliest reductions and the least global cumulative emissions. Although reduction strategies vary depending on the sector and the type of company activities, the SBTi has set some general guidelines. To reduce Scope 2 emissions, the SBTi recommends organizations to source renewable electricity, suggesting a target of 80% renewable electricity procurement by 2025 and 100% by 2030 as thresholds, and engage with the different stakeholders of their value-chain and set targets to influence their behavior and reduce their Scope 3 emissions.
Reaching reduction targets is key for organizations’ to transition to a low-carbon economy and reach long-term sustainable growth.
Contribute to projects
Finally, organizations can go beyond their science-based targets by financially contributing to emission reduction projects outside their value chain to account for their residual emissions. To do so, organizations can purchase carbon credits through the Voluntary Carbon Market, which are generated by projects that either capture or avoid CO2. These projects not only have environmental benefits, but also co-benefits that target the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, such as SDG 5 (gender equality), SDG 14 and 15 (life below water and on land), and SDG 3 (good health and well-being). The mechanism is simple: 1 carbon credit corresponds to 1 tCO2e captured or avoided by the project, which can account for 1 tCO2e emitted. There are different types of projects that generate carbon credits, such as Nature-based Solutions (forestry and land use), renewable energy, energy efficiency and fuel switching, household devices, and waste and water management.
To have the highest environmental and social impacts, organizations should support high-quality emission reduction projects that have been certified and verified by third-party auditors. In addition, organizations can work with partners like ClimateSeed, which carry out additional checks on the project and project developers, such as banking due-diligence and reputational analysis, to ensure that the projects are of the highest quality.
Organizations should select projects that are aligned with their environmental and social goals to complement their CSR and company strategy. For example, the Women’s Forum has selected 3 emission reduction projects with several co-benefits, including gender equality.
Through net-zero commitments, organizations not only fight for climate change, but also promote climate equity through the project’s co-benefits, to bring about a more equitable society that will protect the most vulnerable, including women.
Join the Women’s Forum commitment to reach net-zero emissions and climate equity by committing to take action, measuring your organization’s emissions, setting ambitious reduction targets, and supporting projects to accelerate your environmental and social actions.
- State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets 2020 Second Installment Featuring Core Carbon & Additional Attributes Offset Prices, Volumes and Insights, December 2020