So, here we are. The scene is set.  We’ve got the script. Get ready for the greatest, and possibly most rewarding, performance of your lifetime!

The Climate Crisis has been catapulted to the top of the agenda which means that organisations are now prioritising how they can make their operations sustainable, and in line with the net zero targets that we simply must reach. Sustainability is at the heart of many corporate strategies.  It’s being talked about in every virtual corridor and is getting greater attention on conference agendas.  We’ve seen the compelling science; the 2018 IPCC special report laid out before us the carbon emission reductions that we need to achieve between now and 2050 in order to limit global heating to 1.5 degrees C and avoid catastrophic (runaway) climate change and weather patterns.  We must halve global emission by 2030, halve them again by 2040 and reach net zero by 2050. In the most recent IPCC report issued on 9th August the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, said the findings were “a code red for humanity. The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable”.

Net Zero = achieving a balance between the amount of greenhouse gases going into the atmosphere and the amount removed from the atmosphere, either by natural or technical sequestration.

It’s probably fair to say that most people want to play their part in this challenge.  But, for many, finding that start point can be a little overwhelming.  Here are some pointers to get you started…

Familiarise yourself with the science

Like everything, the more you know the better equipped you will be to engage with stakeholders and have meaningful conversations about what to do.  Familiarise yourself with the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement and data set out by the IPCC.

Engage with your leadership and ESG team

Connect with your Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) team and understand their goals and ambitions.  Larger corporations will have certain legal obligations to measure and disclose their emissions, other smaller companies may not but may choose too.  Find out what carbon reduction goals your business has set and, importantly, if they are aligned to a Science Based Target.

Understand where corporate travel fits in

A company’s greenhouse gas emissions are classified in to 3 different ‘scopes’:

  • Scope 1 – Direct emissions from owned or controlled sources
  • Scope 2 – Indirect emissions from the purchase of electricity, steam, heating and cooling
  • Scope 3 – All other indirect emissions from a company’s value chain, including Business Travel

Whilst scope 3 emission reporting is optional, business travel is often a reported category as it can account for a significant % of a company’s overall carbon footprint (one leading, global consulting firm recently said that carbon emissions from travel accounted for 75% of the company’s overall output in the financial year 2019!).  Therefore, the role of a travel manager could be strategically significant in achieving your company’s emission reductions.

Identify your data sources to gather and measure your activity

Find out where you need to go in order to access your data and then start collating this.  You’ll need to choose a methodology framework to calculate your emissions and it’s important to get the most accurate conversation that you can in order to create your baseline.  Example frameworks, guidelines and methodologies include:

  • UK Government Guidance via BEIS (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
  • WRI/WBCSD Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Standard
  • ISO 14064 (Carbon)
  • ISO 50001 (Energy)
  • Climate Disclosure Standards Boards Climate Change Reporting Framework
  • GRI Sustainability reporting guidelines

Start creating an emissions reduction strategy

The carbon management hierarchy is a really useful tool to address emissions reductions and lays out this best practice approach:

  • Avoid – Avoid carbon intensive activities and putting emissions into the atmosphere in the first place
  • Reduce – Do whatever you do more efficiently
  • Replace – Replace high-carbon energy sources with low- carbon energy sources such as jet fuel with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and combustion engines with electric fleets
  • Remove – Offset those emission that cannot be eliminated by any of the above activity. This may include nature-based solutions or negative emissions technology, as well as many carbon avoidance projects that can be invested in

Being able to frame your conversation and articulate the speed of change required will be essential in order to meet our collective goal.

In a recent webinar by WWF entitled ‘1.5 degrees C – Why delay is as dangerous as denial’, Sir Robert Tony Watson said that if we don’t halve our global emissions by 2030 then we are reliant on non-proven technology to solve climate change.

Even the Queen of England said recently, whilst visiting global warming experts in Scotland, that tackling climate change will mean a change to “the way we do things”.

My hope is that we will stand at the first checkpoint in 2030 having collectively achieved the first milestone and halved emissions, knowing that we played our part in having the conversation, raising awareness, and taking action.

In my next blog I’ll talk about some of the headlines to watch out for, to make sure that we all keep our eye on the end game but, for now, ladies and gentlemen, messieurs dames, it’s time for sustainability to take centre stage.

Helen Hodgkinson, FESTIVE ROAD, UK