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How to Create an Effective Carbon Management Process

You know you want to reduce the carbon footprint of your business. There is lots of information available, but how do you know you are doing the right thing- the best thing – for your business and the environment?

The best way to achieve any carbon reduction goals is to create an effective Carbon Management Plan. A Carbon Management Plan will give your business, your stakeholders and your customer’s clarity around your carbon reduction targets, how you will get there and highlight your achievements along the way. As well as on-going reductions, this can also include commercial goals - cost saving or revenue generating-compliance or value chain requirements and employee engagement strategies.

The road to Net Zero for any business is a journey, and a good plan is only the first step, so at Go Climate Positive we have developed a straightforward process to help businesses start this journey on the right foot, and then continue to find their way as they change and grow. It’s much easier to navigate with a guide so we are here to lead you, step-by-step all the way through.

What happens when I sign up ?

It is important that businesses understand the commitment needed by them in order to achieve their carbon reduction targets, so here we describe the process we go through and what happens when a business signs up to our ”Road to Net Zero” programme.

The aim for all our members is that carbon reduction becomes an integral part of long-term businesses planning that is supported by day-to-day activities.

What is the Carbon Management Process?

At Go Climate Positive we use an annual cycle of identify, collect, calculate, reduce, publish, and review to help businesses manage their carbon emissions and achieve their carbon reduction targets. First, we calculate the current carbon footprint of your business and then help you implement steps to reduce it as much as possible through a combination of in-house efficiency measures, product development or by supporting external emission reduction projects.

Calculate your carbon emissions

The first steps involve identifying the carbon-generating activities in your business, collecting data about these activities and calculating the current carbon footprint of your business. By knowing the level of its emissions, including where any hot spots are, we can help set appropriate targets and create practical action plans to reduce your emissions.

To calculate your Carbon Footprint, we require 12 full months of data matched to the Green House Gas (GHG) protocol corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard, which categorises the emissions generated by an organisation into three types which they call Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3.

  • Scope 1 emissions are essentially all the emissions that are directly owned or controlled by your company, for example, those released by company-owned facilities or vehicles.
  • Scope 2 emissions are the indirect emissions- from the generation of purchased energy, for example- that runs these facilities or vehicles.
  • Scope 3 emissions, meanwhile, which can also be referred to as Value Chain Emissions, represent all the emissions that originate from sources that aren’t owned or controlled by an organisation but occur because of its relationship with other organisations in the production, distribution and eventual destruction of its products and services. Scope 3 emissions therefore incorporate the emissions from the upstream and downstream activities of an organisation that are not already captured in scope 1 and 2.

To help us get started we will schedule a ‘kick off’ meeting, which typically lasts around two hours. We'll ask lots of questions and identify what data you have available and then agree what the best data is for you to go and collect.

Many businesses find the collection step the hardest of the whole process. As your partner in carbon reduction, we ask that you supply us with the relevant data around your carbon emissions in a timely and accurate fashion. There are often several ways to approach the calculation so if do find it difficult to locate the data we agreed come back and talk to us and we will find a solution that makes it easier.

Clients can use our member’s portal to enter their data as they collect it. We then validate it and ask for clarification or changes to be made in the event of any inaccuracies. We ask that data is provided within eight weeks of the initial kick off meeting and we aim to provide a full Carbon Footprint report, detailing your total carbon footprint and a breakdown of where your emissions are coming from two weeks after receiving all valid data.

Reduce your carbon emissions

Once we have the calculations, we will ask you for an honest appraisal of your commitment and motivation to help set appropriate targets for your business. We are always available to advise and support, but remember, these are your targets, and you will be accountable for achieving them.

Science-based Reduction Targets

Once we calculate and understand your carbon footprint, including those of your Scope 1, 2 and 3 activities, we will help you set science-based targets to provide a clearly defined pathway to reduce emissions at least in line with the overall goal set by the UN and the UK Government, to limit global warming to 1.5°C.

Practical Action Plans

Once targets are set, we will coach you to create and implement a tangible action plan to reduce your emissions. You know your business best, so we will empower you to make the right decisions and will help you hold yourself to account for delivering your carbon reduction plans, but we can’t do it all for you.

We do though have a network of trusted partners on hand to help implement some of the changes you may need to achieve some of your goals, for example, solar panel installers or electric vehicle sellers.

Publish your carbon commitments

We think it's important to be transparent and credible in your carbon reduction claims, so we help you publish your carbon footprint, including a bespoke certification web page, to tell your customers what you are doing to calculate and reduce your emissions and by giving you a badge you can use on your website and across marketing communications.

You can see an example certification page here. Achieving a Step 1 certificate shows that you have implemented an effective carbon management system.

There are currently three levels of certification that you can achieve with Go Climate Positive:

1. Carbon Management System: 

Shows that you have implemented an effective carbon management system to calculate, reduce and publish your emissions.

2. Stakeholder Engagement:

Shows you have started to work with the key stakeholders (you’re your employees, suppliers and customers) who have a significant influence on your carbon footprint.

3. Net Zero Roadmap:

Shows that you have built a plan that demonstrates you understand how you will reduce your greenhouse gas emissions all the way to net zero, which is what we all need to do to stop climate change.

Review your carbon reduction actions

The final step in our carbon management process is to review progress on your reduction plans every quarter. We find this external accountability helps our clients remain focussed on their carbon reduction goals and provides opportunities for us to identify additional support for your business if needed. Driving to net zero is a real commitment, it can be tough at times, so we are here to support and encourage you every step of the way.

How long does it take?

We recommend that businesses plan to complete the ‘Identify’ to ‘Publish’ process in around 12 weeks. This means you should aim to complete the initial data gathering process over an eight-week period.

As well as demonstrating your commitment to reducing carbon and the impact this will have on the environment, a carbon footprint management process has a range of benefits you may not have even thought of. The evidence shows sustainability is worth the investment and can help you grow your business.

What’s next?

The Road to Net Zero is our comprehensive monthly membership programme that will help you implement all the components of a meaningful Net Zero plan step-by-step – allowing you to build your Net Zero journey at the pace that is right for your organisation – in the knowledge that everything you do is aligned with the global Net Zero transition. Building an effective Carbon Management process is the first step in this journey.

If you would like guidance on how to start the Carbon Management process, get in touch with one of our Carbon Coaches today.

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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