In the hopes to make the European Union climate neutral by 2050, the European Commission approved in 2020 the European Green Deal. To achieve this goal, among other policies, the UE has committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to at least 55% below 1990 levels by 2030. Since then, many organisations are taking stronger action, some of them seeking to achieve neutrality before 2030… But, why the sudden rush?

Let us start with the basics.

Greenhouse gases (GHGs) trap heat in the atmosphere. The higher the amount of these gases, the harsher the effect. Comparing the emissions to the baseline of 1990 is a way of measuring an objective. However, this objective cannot be achieved in one year alone. Put simply, the atmosphere is like a big glass of water about to overflow. Water represents greenhouse gases currently in the atmosphere, and the unfilled space the time we have left to prevent global warming rising above 1.5ºC.

It is already about 1.2ºC warmer than in the 19th Century.

We are already noticing how extreme weather events are more frequent now than ever, striking with greater intensity and causing bigger damages. Rising levels of GHGs in the atmosphere are warming the weather and changing the climate of every region. A warmer weather results in more frequent fires, droughts, or melting glaciers. These lead to changes in ecosystems, impacting all living beings.

According to many studies, a livable future could only be secured if we limit global warming to 2ºC, or below, up to 1.5ºC. According to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), without immediate and deep emission reductions across all sectors, limiting global warming to 1.5ºC is beyond reach. In fact, current government policies are not aligned with this pathway, leaving organisations and individuals to take the lead.

At this point, it is obvious that we are running late and that mayor changes need to be done. It is a good sign that many organisations have pledged to become net zero by 2050 and are already taking action. Companies need to first acknowledge their impacts in terms of CO2e, which is the way we measure the main GHGs emitted by human activities, being, CO2, CH4, N2O, and the fluorinated gases (HFCs, PFCs, SF6 and NF3). It is also important to consider the emissions throughout the whole value chain of our activities, known as scope 1, 2 and 3. Scope 1 accounts for direct emissions from owned or controlled sources, while scope 2 covers indirect emissions from the generation of purchased electricity and other energies. These two are the easiest to calculate and the ones that should first be addressed. Scope 3 covers the rest of emissions, those resulting from the activities of an organisation but occurring from sources not owned or controlled by it, that is, those from outsourced processes, such as, employees, suppliers, and clients.

When measuring your emissions, it is very important to follow a recognized methodology, as there are many ways to consolidate the emissions from a company or group of companies, and always disclose the emissions that are being accounted for and those that have been deemed material but have not been included. At Strive, our team always follows recognized methodologies to calculate emissions.

Once we understand where our higher emissions are, we need to focus on how to reduce them. There is room for improvement in almost every sector, decarbonizing the energy we use, increasing energy efficiency or the use of alternative fuels can be some of the solutions. It is inevitable, though, to reach a point of net zero just by reducing our emissions. This is where offsetting is necessary. By offsetting we invest in projects that reduce, remove, store or even reuse CO2 for other uses.

It is then, after measuring, reducing and offsetting, when a company achieves net zero emissions.

Whether your company is on its way to net zero or wants to start, we can help out. Contact us here and get started.