Getting to Net Zero
September 26, 2022 / Quentin Roberts (Registered Climate Active Consultant)
The journey to Net Zero has been talked about at length in recent months, particularly in the light of the recent COP26 conference. Most acknowledge that we all need to do something sooner rather than later, but where to start? In this article we share our tips to set you on your way.
First of all you need to know your starting point. We recommend doing a preliminary carbon inventory or baseline so that you know where to direct your efforts. You may find the Tools and resources | Climate Active a useful reference, or by all means get an expert in to help. Most people are surprised by how many areas are covered when you really want to accounts for all emissions sources - it's so much more than energy and waste. You need to be thinking travel, chemicals, refrigerants, services used, stationary and so on. Once a baseline is established you can start to dig deeper into what you can actually change to reduce your footprint.
This stage really requires some expertise in terms of what areas you might improve, especially in relation to energy consumption. Energy efficiency is still the cheapest way to reduce emissions, so it always pays to look a that first, particularly as most find that energy and transport are some of their largest emissions sources. As you start to build you opportunities list and start to consider the cost and emissions reduction potential, you can start to develop your action plan or strategy around making reductions. This basically means what initiatives you do and in what order, to meet your goals. And on the point of goals, I always recommend having a target of some description, even if it is further out initially (say Net Zero by 2050 for example), you can always bring it forward as you see progress in the actions taken.
Once you have your action plan clear and what target you wish to reach, you now need to incorporate those projects and initiatives into your budgeting process. Those projects might include solar, potentially a waste management program or even some energy efficiency upgrades. If you do wish to go completely carbon neutral you will most likely have to purchase some voluntary offsets. The price of offsets does vary so you may like to reach out to us for current pricing, but as a general rule it's best if you can reduce as best you can with other measures first.
It's wise to consider getting a certification of your carbon neutrality e.g. via www.climateactive.org.au to demonstrate your leadership as an organisation and also to give assurance to stakeholders that you have undertaken your approach in a robust manner. Third-party certification is generally preferred and it should be noted that there some cost associated with certification as you need to use an approved consultant in most certification schemes. I should also mention that if you are having trouble getting some projects to meet normal payback hurdles, it may be worth factoring in an Internal or 'Shadow' Carbon Price to place an internal value of the sustainability benefits of a project. These can range from $10-180/tonne and it's entirely up to your organisation how much value you wish to place on sustainability.
I certainly encourage you on your journey and please don't hesitate to connect with us if you need support along the way. We see it as our job to help you get to Net Zero in the most efficient way possible.