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The Net Zero Commitment Problem: A call for meaningful action

 

In this latest blog we explain why we think that to make meaningful impact towards net zero, we must collectively go beyond making net zero commitments, and create financially viable net zero plans.


Nearly a decade has passed since we saw the first net zero commitments roll in, and around 5 years since everyone else jumped on the bandwagon. But aside from a handful of pioneering organisations pushing things forward, not much has changed

Committing to net zero was the easiest target to set in the history of sustainability target setting. No research or investigation required. Those who wanted to be seen as trail blazers ambitiously, perhaps over ambitiously, went for 2030 or 2035. Some played it safe and went for 2040. And those not concerned with admitting they planned on doing the bare minimum, hoped to sneak in before the doors close in 2050

Even though this target setting exercise may have been more of a PR move than anything else, net zero isn’t going anywhere. The rise of ESG as a key talking point in board rooms all over the world is driving brands to put sustainability at the top of the agenda. It’s been all talk with no action so far, but the time will come when taking meaningful action is the only way to demonstrate progress.Compliance and legislation are slowly but surely moving away from simply accounting for and disclosing carbon emissions, and towards climate transition plans and operationalising net zero commitments. The pressure is rising on those responsible for delivering net zero

 

To achieve net zero, we must think differently

For decades, organisations have hidden behind annual disclosures of carbon emissions, with very little attention on decisive action being taken to reduce their impact on the environment. The problem is that in and of itself, repeatedly calculating carbon emissions won’t help us in the fight against climate change. It’s simply a means to an end

Net zero demands meaningful change that delivers measurable results. A strategy document outlining what an organisation intends to do is no longer enough. We need actionable plans that set out what initiatives will be implemented, when they will be completed, and what the expected impact will be. Only then can we be sure that we are on track to meet our net zero objectives.   

Don’t call it a comeback

Energy management has always been sustainability’s ugly cousin. Resigned to the plant room instead of the board room for many decades. But in the world of net zero, it might be time for it to make a comeback. Scope 1 and 2 are the areas in which an organisation has most control and therefore the largest opportunity for impact. Decarbonising scope 1 and 2 emissions sources often involves the thankless, laborious work that is oh so familiar to your typical energy manager.  But to succeed on a large scale, energy management needs an upgrade. Aimlessly tinkering away in a plant room won’t cut it these days. Energy managers must be able to prioritise initiatives in the context of an organisation-level net zero strategy.  

When two worlds collide Net zero, as a north star metric, is a beautifully simple, singular focus point for energy and sustainability teams within organisations. After years of isolated and often counter-productive efforts, with much stepping on each other's toes, we finally have a common goal that we can all get behind. But the collaboration won’t be straightforward. Our research suggests that most net zero targets were set without any consideration for how it would be achieved, despite their being qualified people within the organisation who feel they should have been consulted. Before progress can be made, there are some bridges to build. The fact of the matter is that although setting a net zero target was a PR exercise, it could also be seen as a potential catalyst for change. Energy managers and sustainability professionals must grasp the opportunity with both hands now that the wider business is finally ready to listen.Net zero demands both a top-down and a bottom-up approach. Strategy and planning must be done at the organisational level, but the initiatives and associated actions must go down to a granular level where genuine impact can be made.

Net Zero quadrant

 

Our Approach At NeuerEnergy, we believe in a collaborative approach to net zero, one that brings together all members of an organisation, to deliver net zero as a team with a single focus. We’ve built our platform to act as a place for high-level targets and milestones to be set, whilst also offering the more technical users the ability to manage net zero initiatives at asset and product level

We help our customers ask questions of their emissions, such as “what would happen if I installed LED lighting across all buildings?” or “what if we switched to a more sustainable form of transport?”. Equally, we help our more technical users who are out in the field assess the impact of various initiatives at building or asset level.  

To find out more get in touch or share your view directly with us, click here. 

Topics: Sustainability, Net zero, Data collection

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