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Zero in on... net zero

Demystifying the buzzword everyone's talking about.

When it comes to climate action, achieving net zero by 2050, in line with the Paris Agreement, is the UK’s legal target

And it’s no surprise if it feels like the latest buzzword – we’ve seen a surge in commitments from governments and businesses to net zero, meaning momentum is building.

Essentially, we reach net zero when the amount of carbon dioxide we add is no more than the amount taken away. These goals guide us to significantly reduce our absolute emissions and find ways to sequester any residual carbon emissions - so there’s no net increase in CO2.

Why does it matter? Over the next decade, what we do to get to net zero will have a major impact on the world we live in. This will reach every corner of the economy, so the sooner businesses get on board, the better.

Five things you need to know about net zero

The Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) have launched a Net-Zero Standard, providing an independent assessment of corporate net zero target setting. Companies adopting the Standard will be required to set both near- and long-term science-based targets across Scopes 1, 2 and 3.

A near-term target will cover the next 5-10 years and set you on your 1.5°C aligned carbon reduction pathway, while a long-term target will only be met once you have reduced your absolute emissions by 90% or more. The Standard has also set clear parameters on residual emissions. To meet a net zero goal, the remaining 10% or less can only be neutralised through carbon removal credits.

With the UK committed to achieving net zero by 2050 as per the Paris Agreement, many corporates have followed suit and set goals to decarbonise their organisations ahead of the legal target. Doing so demonstrates a clear commitment to getting ahead of the challenge, and getting the benefits of a net zero business more quickly (with the added benefit of limiting emissions more quickly).

Setting a vision for your organisation is a critical first step. This vision may need testing internally before you share it with the world, but you don’t need to finalise every detail of your plan to get started. Collectively, we’re on a journey through to 2050 and we can only see so far ahead.

A credible net zero commitment is anchored in really understanding your carbon footprint, especially your Scope 3 emissions. This will help you to identify the efficiencies and actions that will set you on your path.

Embed climate action in your business model and help your people, and your partners, to understand how it impacts them day to day. Set the tone from the top and acknowledge you’ll need a robust, cross-functional investment to drive change.

Keep learning

For more insight and inspiration on how to approach your net zero journey, explore our collection of articles below.

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