Responsible 100 creates and develops detailed benchmarks on each of the issues we explore. The above reveals only summaries of the current statements describing POOR, OKAY, GOOD and EXCELLENT performance standards. No policy nor practice examples are included here. The complete benchmarks are shared with organisations which, through offering answers to the above questions, help to shape and improve the benchmarks on an ongoing basis. Find out more about our benchmarks here.
Global warming and climate change are pressing issues that affect the entire world. If the world at large doesn’t begin to reduce emissions and their carbon footprint, the impacts will become irreversible. However, we have not yet passed the ‘point of no return’ and there is certainly hope that with the right actions we can begin to fix climate change.
Carbon emissions between 2010 and 2012 were the highest in human history, and scientists have known for decades that these excess emissions are triggering global warming. Additional emissions will continue to exacerbate the problem and it isn’t just up to one company or country to solve this issue: each company has a responsibility to do their part to help reduce the effects of climate change. The Paris Agreement set forth in 2015 describes how we must not exceed 465 parts per million of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. It also holds member nations accountable and provides strategies for reducing their effects on the environment. Within each individual company, there's a lot that can be done to reduce emissions and get closer to being net zero.
Net zero is a step above being carbon neutral. While carbon neutral refers to not increasing your carbon emissions and reducing emissions with offsets, net zero emissions takes into account everything that carbon neutral does, as well as scope three emissions. Scope three emissions are those emissions that are caused by assets that your company does not own or control. Examples of scope three emissions include upstream activities such as leased assets or employee commuting, while examples of downstream activities include the use of sold products and company investments. These are harder to calculate and control, so achieving net zero emissions is much more difficult to do than carbon neutral.
However, net zero is ultimately what we need to achieve if we wish to stop or reverse climate change going forward.
In general, net zero means doing everything in your power to reduce carbon emissions, and using offsetting as a last resort. Given that scope three must be taken into account for achieving net zero emissions, it is harder to achieve and must be a deliberate action taken by the company. Companies looking to become net zero have to identify where their carbon emissions lie and how they can reduce them. This can include restructuring supply chains in order to use other companies that go out of their way to have lower carbon emissions.
Besides the general positive impact on the climate, there are a multitude of benefits companies can gain by achieving net zero. Being net zero can help to reduce costs by increasing efficiency and reducing consumption. It can improve brand image, attract new customers, and satisfy stakeholders. Additionally, being net zero is required for many government contracts as outlined in PPN 0621.
The 1.5 Alive Pact was made during COP26, reaffirming the goal of the 2015 Paris Agreement “to pursue efforts” to limit the global average temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre industrial levels.