Net zero for companies refers to the goal of achieving a balance between the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions a company produces and the GHG emissions it removes from the atmosphere.
The concept of net zero is rooted in the urgent need to address climate change and limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, as outlined in the Paris Agreement.
To achieve net zero, companies must first measure and understand their current GHG emissions across their operations, including direct emissions from their own activities (known as Scope 1 emissions) and indirect emissions from the generation of purchased electricity, heating, and cooling (known as Scope 2 emissions), as well as other indirect emissions from their value chain (known as Scope 3 emissions).
Once a company has a clear understanding of its emissions profile, it can take steps to reduce its emissions through various strategies and technologies.
This may involve improving energy efficiency, transitioning to renewable energy sources, adopting low-carbon technologies, optimizing supply chains, and implementing sustainable practices.
However, it is important to note that achieving net zero does not mean eliminating all emissions entirely. Some emissions may be difficult to eliminate completely, such as those from certain industrial processes or long-haul transportation.
In such cases, companies can invest in offsetting measures, such as investing in projects that remove or reduce GHG emissions elsewhere, such as reforestation, afforestation, or carbon capture and storage.
In summary, achieving net zero for companies involves measuring, reducing, and offsetting GHG emissions to the point where the company's overall emissions are balanced by the removal or offsetting of an equivalent amount of emissions, resulting in a net zero contribution to climate change.
It requires a comprehensive and holistic approach to sustainability and often involves setting science-based targets and engaging stakeholders throughout the value chain to drive meaningful change.