When you’re starting to put together your organisation’s decarbonisation strategy, it can be tempting to start taking action to reduce your emissions straightaway. But it’s vital that you take two key steps first in order to set your business up for sustainability success.
By measuring your existing carbon footprint and setting a clear, science-based target, you’ll be able to understand where you are now and make a practical plan to reach your future goals. Here’s how it works:
Step One: Measure your carbon footprint
Before you start planning for a low-carbon future, it’s important to ensure that you understand where your organisation currently stands when it comes to emissions. This means collating all of the utilities consumption data you need to get a full view of the emissions your organisation is creating, both directly and indirectly. You should include:
- Your Scope 1 emissions – direct emissions from owned or controlled sources
- Your Scope 2 emissions – indirect emissions from the generation of purchased electricity, steam, heat and cooling
- Your Scope 3 emissions – further indirect emissions created by your value chain, such as purchased goods and services, business travel, water usage and waste disposal.
When measuring your carbon footprint, you will need to factor in all emissions created by your electricity, gas and water usage as well as your business travel (which includes staff travel and commuting). Gaining a clear picture of your Scope 3 emissions can be more complex, as you will need to work with your supply chain to access the data you need in this area. Once you have collected and analysed all of your Scope 1, 2 and 3 data, you should have a much better understanding of your organisation’s carbon footprint, which means you can start working to reduce it.
Step Two: Set a carbon reduction target
Once you’re confident that you’ve got an accurate view of your carbon footprint, you can set a carbon reduction target for your organisation. With so much talk around net zero, it may be tempting to set an ambitious target from the outset – but while it’s good to be ambitious, it’s also important that any target you set is achievable. So while your end goal is likely to be net zero emissions – there are a range of different targets you can work towards, such as:
- Reducing your Scope 1 and 2 carbon footprint by 50% by 2030 vs 2019, in absolute terms
- Powering all of your operations with renewable energy
- Reducing the waste you send to landfill by 50%
- Engaging with e.g. your 10 largest suppliers to gather their emissions data to help build a more accurate Scope 3 baseline
Many businesses are adopting Science Based Targets (SBTs), working with the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) to ensure that their goals are in line with what the latest climate science deems necessary to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. You need to carry out analysis to work out a realistic target for your business in line with the rate of reduction specified by the necessary pathway to Net Zero, then submit it to the SBTi. They will validate your goal against a set of science-based criteria, and either confirm that it meets the criteria or provide you with feedback to help you to refine your goal in line with the Paris Agreement. By setting an SBT, you can ensure that your business is contributing towards the UK’s wider decarbonisation goals and demonstrate that your organisation is serious about achieving greater sustainability.
Hit the ground running with Inspired Energy
Inspired Energy know that when you’re just starting out on your decarbonisation journey, the process can seem daunting. That’s why their experts are on hand to support you every step of the way – from collecting the data you need to build a robust carbon footprint, to helping you to define your carbon reduction goals.
Inspired Energy’s Carbon Action Programme sets out a step-by-step approach to carbon reduction which (alongside their expert support) can make achieving your sustainability goals so much easier.