Carbon X: Carbon neutrality or negativity – here’s how to achieve it

24 January 2022 | BLOGS

It might have taken Greta Thunberg to shake us up to climate change, but it sure didn’t take just COP26 to create more worldwide awareness of the limiting global temperature rise to 1.5° C.

Given how, countries, companies and individuals are driven to take strides in doing their bit towards combating climate change for a better world, here are a few broad steps on how to get started on the chosen path of Net Zero Emissions and further still – achieving Carbon Negativity.

To begin with, here is a quick understanding of the many terms and variants of climate action in circulation, so that one can use more accurate terminology when goal setting– across countries or companies largely-

  • Carbon neutrality - any CO2 released into the atmosphere from a company’s activities is balanced by an equivalent amount being removed over a specified period.
  • Carbon negative means that activity goes beyond achieving net-zero carbon emissions to create an environmental benefit by removing additional carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
  • Climate positive is the same as Carbon Negative but is usually understood to include all GHG emissions and not just CO2.

One step at a time

  • Measuring and inventorying all your company’s emissions by Scope (1, 2 and 3), for CO2 and GHG emissions cannot be emphasised enough. Only when this information is in place is when the company is in a position to understand its baseline and set targets through climate sensitive programs and make projections towards accomplishing those targets.
  • Analyse data and build scenarios based on prospective programs for emissions reduction. This and the earlier step may require assistance from external agencies like consultants and/or carbon accountants if the company lacks internal expertise.
  • Set targets for the company based on the analysis and implement appropriate programs and operational changes.
  • Conduct stakeholder meetings and educational programs across the company for impact, recommendations, and action.
  • Operationalize systemic changes across the enterprise, this also includes the value chain. Without priming key stakeholders towards the impending change through an effective management approach, climate change is just an intent.

Standards for Carbon X

If your company wants to follow a standard and benefit from the guidance it provides, it can take up compliance with the world’s only independent standard for carbon neutrality i.e., ISO 14021.

Carbon offset examples

If carbon offsetting is on your mind, then investing in afforestation programs and renewable energy projects, is a good way to start. Buying carbon offsets to compensate for emissions made elsewhere or sequestration of carbon emitted in solid and dissolved forms are other options.

Pro-climate measures

There are several measures that businesses can adopt to further reduce their emissions. Here are a few –

  • Manufacturing products that do no emit CO2 at the end of their life, capturing and safe
  • Disposal of emissions captured at source such as effluents produced by the company
  • Using materials, infrastructure and methods that do not emit CO2 or GHGs

Back to the future

Given the current state of climate and the rate at which greenhouse effect continues to rise globally, the world needs more ambitious action than Net Zero Emissions. Businesses need to think beyond offsetting and sequestering carbon to spark a positive change.

Forward thinking companies such as Google, Bosch, Kickstarter, Angel Chang, EY, ITC and a few countries that are either carbon neutral or carbon negative are setting great examples on this front. They have paved the path and set examples, but it would take whole swaths of countries and a larger percentage of companies becoming carbon neutral or negative to impact the climate positively.

The urgency to mitigate the climate crisis is great enough to warrant it.

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