Implement Science based GHG reduction targets using four simple levers

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Courtesy of Antea Group - USA

Antea Group has caught a view onto the horizon and what we see coming is a concerted effort on the part of businesses to take responsibility for their GHG emissions. An important step towards realizing this vision is establishing ambitious science based targets for reduction to 2020 and beyond.  

What Are Science Based Targets?

Until now greenhouse gas targets have usually been short-term, low-ambition, or arbitrarily set, yielding important but only incremental improvements. Science Based Targets aims to change that. A joint effort by the CDP, United Nations Global Compact, World Resource Institute, and the World Wildlife Fund, the Science Based Targets initiative exists to spur “corporate climate action by creating an expectation that companies will set targets consistent with the level of decarbonization required by science to limit global warming to less than 2°C compared to pre-industrial temperatures.”

In order to achieve this goal, climate scientists have identified several science based processes for establishing your GHG emission reduction targets in line with climate science. These processes include the sectoral decarbonization approach, the 3% solution, the BT CSI Methodology for Climate Stabilization Intensity, the C-FACT methodology, and others. (For more information, see the Science Based Targets website.)

Why Science Based Targets?

Science Based Targets can prompt employees to envision the company as a leader in the future low-carbon economy and ambitious goals can spur innovation in products and technologies, materials sourcing, and market expansion. The big question is how best to apply these principles and processes to your organization without sacrificing your business goals.

You may be contemplating (or have already set) ambitious GHG reduction targets to meet the expectations of your stakeholders regarding climate action, but how do you align your emissions targets with global climate science scenarios? What is the optimal path for getting there? What specific goals will make an impact and really contribute?

As you go deeper into the climate science and seek to understand what your contribution could be, it is important to look beyond merely establishing a target. Working to understand the real business opportunities and effort required to achieve your targets is a critical exercise of scenario thinking and forecasting.  

The “Four Levers” of GHG Reduction

Antea Group has created the concept of organizing potential reduction efforts into four primary categories, or levers that you can pull. The idea is that you can start with any one of these based on your unique circumstances, and use it to identify practical solutions and develop an implementation roadmap and business case for achieving your targets. The four levers you can pull are: 

1. Transformation of your product portfolio to less carbon intensive products or packaging.  

Reviewing the emission intensity of your existing product and packaging portfolio, coupled with looking at where business plans put you in the future, can offer you insights to evaluate what is possible going forward. Based on your current glide path, and anticipation of what your carbon emissions will be x years down the road, you can develop plausible forecasts and evaluate real alternative scenarios related to product and packaging ingredients and design.   

2. Achieve ‘hyper’ operational efficiency. 

Driving operational excellence is a second lever that can be pulled to reduce absolute carbon emissions. The materiality of these efforts will vary by industry but to understand the dynamics of your investment opportunities and to develop cost curves and technology roadmaps to help prioritize emission reductions and understand associated costs represents a very deliberate exercise for all. Considering opportunities for moving to cleaner fuels and investing in technology or processes that demand less energy are all elements that can be explored with vigor. Innovative approaches such as alternative internal funding mechanisms, carbon pricing, and carbon trading markets are approaches that companies are exercising both internally and in partnership with peers to help meet their goals.

3. Accelerate the greening of the grid. 

Using decision support tools, companies can systematically evaluate the construct of the local grid and assess their opportunity to engage in helping drive more sustainable and less impactful external energy production. Viewing the greening of the grid from an industry-wide, global, and holistic perspective will allow companies to take advantage of local incentives, identify opportunities to leverage their investment dollar, and make more informed and intelligent investment choices.  

4. Enable supply chain performance.

For many companies, the supply chain represents the most demonstrable but also the most challenging element of the value chain as it relates to your GHG footprint. As companies, especially consumer and food product companies, look to achieve their absolute reduction targets, driving supply chain reduction cannot be ignored. It does, however, offer some unique challenges. The ability of a company to effect change is challenged as the key stakeholders can be geographically dispersed, extremely numerous, and far removed from our direct control or sphere of ready influence.

Tools such as supplier performance dashboards, carbon helpdesks and workshops, and peer-to-peer collaborations with suppliers all offer mechanisms to accelerate learning and implementation of proactive, sustainable solutions across your supply base.  

Sound like too much to handle all at once? Not to worry, you don’t have to--you just need to be strategic, narrow your focus to the lever(s) that make the most sense for your business and, if needed, tap into outside partners for support. 

Through our years of experience with clients around the world, Antea Group has developed a set of tools to help our customers practically apply existing methods for setting GHG emission reduction targets in line with climate science. Give us a call to learn more about how we can help guide you through this process today.

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