Carbon Zero: What it Means for Business Owners
Climate action must proceed faster if climate goals are to be reached, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF). During the 2015 Paris Agreement countries agreed to try and limit global warming below 2℃. The World Economic Forum reported that, “The latest science shows that emissions need to drop by half by 2030 and reach net-zero by mid-century to this goal and prevent the worst impacts of climate change.”
Five Times Faster
Progress is happening too slowly in order for the world to meet emission reduction targets, a report from World Resources Institute (WRI) and ClimateWorks Foundation found. In order to meet emission cuts required by 2030 the report argues that certain actions need to happen five times faster. In the power sector these actions include phasing out unabated coal five times faster and increasing renewables six times faster. Renewable energy is the generation technology of choice and has been increasing globally, accounting for around 27% of total electricity generation during 2019.
“While there has been a tremendous acceleration in renewable energy, to meet 2030 and 2050 climate targets, the pace of change will still need to increase by a factor of five,” the WEF reiterated the importance of speeding up climate goals. Globally coal is responsible for an estimated 38% of electricity production, but by 2040 electricity from unabated coal needs to be phased out. Retirement of coal plants have increased since 2006, but new coal plants continue to be built especially in countries with a growing demand for electricity.
How Small Business Can Contribute
Regardless, if you have a small Florida LLC or a multinational corporation, everyone needs to do their part if we are to avoid a carbon-intensive future. Recycling bins and eliminating single-use plastics are steps in the right direction, but carbon neutrality requires some strategic decisions pertaining to clean energy, waste reduction and carbon offsetting.
Clean Energy and Waste Reduction
Clean energy refers to energy supplied from renewable sources, this includes solar and wind. A business could switch to a clean energy provider or produce their own electricity by having solar panels installed.
Reducing waste and becoming more efficient through small, strategic steps can have a big impact on the carbon footprint of a business. Simple actions such as turning lights off overnight and switching to energy efficient equipment will help to reduce the amount of emissions that need to be offset to achieve net zero.
Some businesses will still have unavoidable emissions. Offsetting emissions by investing in initiatives aimed at reducing global carbon damage can help a business achieve net zero. Carbon offsetting is regulated by a number of standards, most notable among them being the Gold Standard. Businesses can invest in certified and impactful carbon offsetting initiatives such as forest regeneration, safe water campaigns or clean cooking projects in less fortunate communities. In turn businesses are awarded carbon credits which measures their contribution to carbon offsetting.
For those who are new to carbon offsetting the range of carbon credits can seem challenging at first. To ensure the credits a business purchase are from high-quality projects five practical questions need to be considered.
- Is the project simply switching from one fossil fuel to another?
- Are safeguards in place to mitigate unintended negative consequences?
- Have developers engaged local stakeholders with regards to their concerns and objectives about the project?
- Are sustainable development goals measured, monitored and independently verified?
- What economic value does this project create?
When projects follow best practices their impact can go beyond simply cutting carbon emissions and helps to deliver meaningful benefits for communities and ecosystems.
More Than Credits
To investigate the economic value of Gold Standard carbon credits an independent research study by Vivid Economics found that, “for every carbon credit issued from a clean cookstove project, $267 in economic value is created.” For domestic biogas projects the average value was found to be $465 per credit. The net benefit of Gold Standard’s improved cooking solutions portfolio adds up to $2.6 billion annually, making carbon credits an attractive option that helps to improve communities on top of reducing harmful emissions.
Rapid transformation is needed if emissions are to be halved by 2030. This will require significant financial investments and technology. Climate finance increased significantly in recent years, but more work still needs to be done if carbon zero goals are to be realized.
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