Five important steps businesses can take to achieve net zero emissions

India’s commitment of net-zero emissions by 2070 at the COP26 has set in a sudden urgency for climate action with its ripples being felt in every corner of the world as many more countries also pledged their net zero targets. The historical Union Budget this year with it’s strong focus on climate action, further placed climate planning on a pedestal. Businesses, Govt. bodies and the society at large have become unprecedentedly aware and conscious of the current climate crisis.

The rhetoric however has not translated into an equivalent action. While the tread to a future of increased climate action has accelerated, the pace has been slow. Greenhouse emissions continue to rise while implementation of corrective measures is yet to garner a pace that supercedes the emission levels to offset its effect on climate. This gap between rhetoric and subsequent action needs to be closed to achieve the net-zero targets set at COP26.

The roadmap to a net-zero future

Climate is a vital element for the sustenance of life on earth. It touches and even shapes our life. Climate action therefore needs utmost handling and management in all its stages from planning to implementation, for a successful journey to net-zero.

The most important element for any country to achieve its targets is its climate sensitive people that predominantly include the industrial sector and businesses – big and small given their high rate of emissions through industry activities.

Climate conscious businesses that understand their climate responsibilities and consequently adopt best practices, can significantly contribute to a greener tomorrow. Adopting climate best practices enable businesses to not only enhance their brand value but also gain a competitive advantage in the market. Companies with a sustainable action plan can increase their productivity for greater financial gains.

1. Understanding climate nuances – The first step for any business commencing on a climate journey is to sensitize themselves on their role in enabling a net-zero future. Businesses should consult climate experts who can help them with an in-depth advisory on their emission levels and the resultant impact it has on climate.

2. Establish climate action as a part of corporate governance – With a better understanding of their climate responsibilities, businesses can progress to the second step which is to define these responsibilities as an important aspect of their corporate governance framework. This will enable them to advocate for life-long climate best practices and continued efforts towards being climate sensitive at all stages of their business growth.

3. Designing a strategic roadmap – A strong framework will empower businesses to plan for a more impactful action plan, which is the third step for a successful climate journey. It is important to consult climate experts at this stage also to design a strategic roadmap that defines long-term climate goals with complimentary short-term as well as long-term solutions to achieve these. Experts can help derive a scientifically designed action plan for effective measures to offset emissions and reduce carbon footprints.

The action plan should be all encapsulating with efficient and comprehensive climate strategies for the reduction of energy usage and emissions that are in alignment with the Paris Agreement. The plan should include measures for resource optimization and scope for the implementation of technology innovations given that a large part of global reductions in CO2 emissions between now and 2030 in the net zero pathway will come from technologies readily available today. The action plan should also include Negative Emission Technology (NET) solutions that play a prominent role in achieving net zero emissions. Nature-based Solutions (NbS) like afforestation & reforestation, land management, biodiversity conservation amongst others, are yet another innovative intervention that should be included in the action plan.

4. Implementing the climate roadmap – Once definitive goals and a well-defined plan are established, we arrive at the fourth step that essentially encapsulates the implementation of the plan for corrective measures. Businesses should aim to ensure that all its current emissions are balanced by removals and sequestrations. In line with this, businesses should adopt renewables that limit environmental impact and wastage of resources while being energy efficient.

5. Evaluation & tracking for corrective measures – Finally, businesses should plan for regular tracking of their climate actions to evaluate its efficiency and incorporate requisite course corrections. Alternate strategies that are sustainable and less emission intensive should be adopted.

Businesses that are flag bearers of climate action with a well-defined strategy in place with which they have been able to reduce their emissions should widen the scope of their climate goals for higher emission reduction levels to enable higher contributions to global targets.

The way forward

The world needs a clear step-by-step road map to avoid the devastating impacts of climate change and enable drastic reductions in emissions. Businesses that have adopted climate strategies, no matter how well-defined can take anywhere between a few weeks to a few months or even a few years for actual reductions in emissions or reversals.

Businesses should therefore design an all encapsulating plan with efficient and comprehensive climate strategies with incremental improvements.

Climate action though prevalent across the globe, still requires widespread adoption. If more businesses adopt climate action, it will translate into stronger effects towards lowering global emission levels. As businesses improve their energy efficiency and drastically reduce their emissions, they will significantly contribute to lowering and reversing the adverse effects of climate change to hasten the onward pace to a future of net-zero emissions.

Source: Times of India

Tags: carbon emissions, COP26, NET, NetZero
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