How and in what scope could businesses monitor the operation’s carbon footprint when they begin to pay attention to the issue?

The clock is ticking. Evidence from implementing environmental taxes, climate strikes, reporting requirements, and investors’ preferences are our sustainability landscapes have to be taken in full swing.

When discussing climate risks, we designate carbon emission as the fundamental parameter in evaluating ones’ achievements, individually and organisationally. Carbon emission is not purely a number; we should deliberately take the operational manner as a whole to target dropping our carbon footprint. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has highlighted that 630 gigawatts (GW) of solar PV power and 390 GW of wind power need to be affixed to the global energy system by 2030.

Businesses would have been confused about how and in what scope they could monitor the operation’s carbon footprint when they begin to pay attention to the issue. We can imagine how enormous steps and procedures businesses have to appraise. According to GHG Protocol Corporate Standard, businesses should always measure the direct carbon emission from their facilities, vehicles and the indirect purchase of electricity stream, heating, and cooling for their use. Companies will have to look at the upstream and downstream activities extending the care to the value chain, vision, and missions to influence lobbying.

Internally, both top-down and bottom-up act together to guide the target setting. From top-down to set the target of boundary, select the base year to monitor, the year to meet the target, to bottom-up to define the hierarchy of actions and mitigations by Prevent, Reduce, Substitute, Neutralise, and Compensate.

Photo above: Bottom-up approach example – a car manufacturer, Source: Adapted from WWF’s Carbon Mitigation Hierarchy (source: Singapore Exchange, 2021, Credible decarbonisation and transition for corporates in Asia)

Strategically, how to take mitigation actions for the climate? 1.5°C Business Playbook, an open-source guideline aiming to help achieve a critical mass of companies aligned with a 1.5°C pathway, urges us to focus on a Four-pillar Climate Strategy. They are:

Pillar 1) company’s activities to reduce its emissions;
Pillar 2) company’s actions to reduce its value chain emissions;
Pillar 3) alignment of the company’s vision, strategy, value proposition, products, and services with the 1.5°C goals;
Pillar 4) contribution to the 1.5°C ambition ahead of your own business, for instance, influencing government policy, establishing industry initiatives

Photo above: from THE 1.5°C BUSINESS PLAYBOOK

It is often to think about the carbon footprint as giant corporates’ responsibility because of their operation size, adherent risks, stakeholders involved, and their influence in the industry sector. Big corporates for sure have bargaining power in enforcing carbon footprint reduction throughout the supply and operational chains. Applying the Four-pillar Climate Strategy, businesses of any size can spot the idea of addressing their impacts under different pillars to reduce carbon footprint. 1.5C Business Playbook suggests that Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) should reduce their footprint based on pillar one. SMEs can reach pillar two when they select their suppliers. When SMEs have gained competency in designing green products and services, they will go to pillar three to embed a 1.5°C vision into the business strategy.

What about the community which the group is considering as passive in the role of decarbonisation? Under Carbon law, researchers anticipate we would phase out coal consumption by 2030 and oil by 2040. Why is that? Researchers perceive green energy doubles every five years, while carbon emissions bisect per decade – this is Carbon law. It can be applied to everyone: companies, cities, nations, and citizens. Carbon law is a reminder to us of the ambitious roadmap to decarbonisation. Harnessing the development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies and reducing CO2 emissions from land use, researchers envision zero global emissions by 2050.

However, this hypothetical exercise in decarbonisation remains unknown how emission-reduction strategies will play out in the real world. At this moment, we should probably rely on ourselves to minimise our carbon footprint. Businesses have extensive guidelines and dashboard in helping them to manage a decarbonised operation. The communities should start from our daily lifestyle, from selecting the transportation method, choosing vegan meals, to driving the business to provide genuinely green products and service through careful consumption.

Photo above: ESG Dashboard streamlines the collection of relevant data and information from the issuer’s business operations, enabling listed companies to monitor their ESG reporting progress. 

By: ANewR Consulting Limited, a digital environmental consultant headquartered in Hong Kong since 2008. Our expertise has grown into the context of air and water qualities, noise, green building, waste management, and remediation. With extensive know-how in environmental planning and assessment, feasibility study and policy review, ecological design, monitoring, and audit (EM&A), ANewR has matured to be a leading management consultancy. Standing in the digital transformation reign, ANewR has participated in various environmental digital projects – interactive 3D visualisation, immersive automation virtual environment, Virtual reality, automation system, and monitoring platforms.
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