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How can I engage my supply chain with decarbonisation?

This blog is part three of a three-part series on supply chain carbon reduction. You can read Part 1 (“Why should I reduce my supply chain’s carbon footprint?”), and Part 2 (“How can I decarbonise my supply chain?”) today.

In our last blog, I discussed establishing a scope 3 supply chain carbon reduction plan, including understanding suppliers’ impact on your business’s carbon footprint, identifying key suppliers, and developing scope 3 into your plan.

In this blog, I will cover how to actively engage your supply chain with their net zero journeys, and with your business’ holistic carbon reduction plan.


In order to effectively build out your scope 3 plan, you must bring supplier businesses on the journey with you. This involves an exploration of the following key questions:

“Why does carbon reduction/net zero matter to you?”

  • Why you are looking to actively reduce your carbon emissions as a business.

“What have you committed to achieve?”

  • Any targets you’ve committed to reaching as part of your carbon reduction plan, and your actionable steps to achieving them.

“Where are you now on your journey?”

  • Your current position on your carbon reduction plan, and on your path to net zero more generally.

“How do you contribute to our carbon footprint?”

  • Demonstration of how scope 3 calculates the entire supply chain of the business, and how businesses are all joined in a dense web when it comes to carbon reduction. “Until we’re all net zero, nobody is.”

“Why are we asking you for help?”

  • Engagement with the supplier likely as a key (1st tier) ranked business. Typically, would form up to 60-80% of your business’s supply chain emissions.

“What happens next/What do we need from you?”

  • Explanation of the next steps of the carbon reduction programme/plan. This may include the supplier starting to measure and report their own carbon footprint as well as taking measures to reduce their respective supply-chain, energy usage, travel and transport, etc.

The purpose of this stage is to make your suppliers aware that decarbonising your businesses is of critical importance to you and that you need their help to do it. You can find more details on specific scope 3 drivers in part one of this blog series, “Why should I reduce my supply chain’s carbon footprint?”.


Following an explanation of your steps towards net zero scope 3, your business then needs to understand where your suppliers are on their net zero journey. Some of these elements would include:

  • Have they calculated their emissions?
  • What methodologies have been used?
  • Has the calculation been independently verified?
  • Have reduction targets been set?
  • What reductions/removals have been made?
  • Are they willing to report their emissions to you?

Once you’ve surveyed the key businesses in your supply chain, your business will be able to make more of an informed decision on next steps to take on your journey.

Engage or Switch

Now that your business has communicated your intent to your supply chain and conducted a survey on suppliers to determine key information, your business will now have to determine whether to engage with existing suppliers, or to switch suppliers.

We recommend an “engage-first” strategy for the following reasons:

  1. You will maintain use of a likely preferred partner for your business, one who understands and meets the needs of your business.
  2. Choosing to engage with existing suppliers will invariably increase the overall number of businesses with net zero plans, helping the UK towards the 2050 target.

Only if they prove unwilling to engage, would we recommend considering switching to a new supplier.

Whichever of these options is decided upon, your chosen supplier can be used as part of your scope 3 carbon reduction plan.

While there are barriers of entry for businesses, it is critical that businesses get on their net zero journey as soon as feasible to meet the government’s 2050 target, and to be part of the change across a range of businesses throughout the supply chain.

Engaging your suppliers

Once you have decided which suppliers to engage with the next steps will likely include:

  • Running workshops with your suppliers to work out how you can collaborate to decarbonise both your businesses.
  • Explaining to those suppliers who have yet to start their net zero journey how to start measuring their own carbon footprint.
  • Setting up a system to collect carbon data from your suppliers on an annual basis, to feed your own Scope 3 carbon calculation.
  • Keeping track of your suppliers’ progress on their net zero journey.

About Go Climate Positive

Go Climate Positive are expert carbon coaches, able to work with you to take the confusion out of scope 3. We baseline emissions, develop carbon reduction plans, and provide resources to engage your supply chain in a developed but digestible manner.

Get in touch today to find out more about our options for businesses looking into scopes 1, 2, and 3 of net zero.

Written by Eoin McQuone

Eoin (pronounced like “Ian”) is the Chief Carbon Coach and founder of Go Climate Positive, and a Practitioner member of IEMA (the Institute of Environmental Management).

Eoin says, “Sustainability is no longer a ‘nice thing to do’, it is business critical. My goal is to make it accessible and affordable for every business, however big or small, no matter their market sector.”

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