November 10, 2020

Pathzero creates streamlined Carbon Neutral protocol for SMEs

Carl Prins

Pathzero has, today, published a carbon neutral protocol for small-medium sized businesses. The Protocol makes attaining a credible carbon neutral claim more accessible to small-medium sized businesses, currently frustrated by the immense resource required to take this meaningful climate action.

Pathzero Co-Founder & CEO, Carl Prins, said “Any business should be able to understand their carbon footprint and plan what action they can take to get to net zero. We are hoping this new protocol can streamline this process for SMEs”.

We are making the Pathzero Carbon Neutral Protocol available for download through our website and welcome any constructive comments or debate to ensure a robust standard.

What protocols exist today?

In Australia, the Federal Government has developed the Climate Active Carbon Neutral Standard for Organisations. This is one of the most robust carbon neutral standards available globally and the only one that is run by a government organisation.

This standard has been designed for large enterprise and the requirements for measurement, reduction, offsetting, validation and reporting often fall beyond the means of most well-intentioned small businesses. 

The result of this protocol is that a great deal of resources is spent in producing a carbon account and little budget remains to actually finance projects which deliver verified emissions reductions.

What is different in Pathzero's protocol?

In studying the protocols available in Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom we identified three areas of opportunity to streamline the process for small-medium sized business, namely:

  1. Creating a "current" status instead of financial or calendar years in the past
  2. Allowing technology to make measurement and validation less onerous
  3. Being prescriptive on emissions boundaries in well-understood industries

Aleena Dewji, Senior Carbon & Sustainability Specialist at Pathzero said that Pathzero's protocol is built on the foundation laid by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol and existing international carbon neutral standards but introduces the above changes that will enable many more businesses to join the global race to net zero emissions.

“Existing protocols are often complex and require significant time and resources to quantify an emissions inventory. We have designed the protocol to be accessible for SMEs by embedding all requirements directly into the Pathzero self-serve web application.”  

Current status vs. Historic period

The Pathzero protocol applies a "current" carbon neutral status. A company is required to measure, offset and report its emission on a monthly basis to continue using the "Carbon Neutral Company" label that Pathzero provides under a licence agreement.

This is in contrast to creating a carbon account for a historic 12 month financial or calendar year.

Reducing gross emissions sits at the heart of the Pathzero mission. We believe that providing ongoing reduction advice and measuring the result on a monthly basis creates genuine engagement in emissions reductions.

Allowing enabling technology

For the "Carbon Neutral Company" label, Pathzero does not require an external company to validate the scope of emissions included in the inventory, or activity data supporting the carbon account calculation. Instead, it performs an ongoing portfolio review to identify outliers in companies' measurements and has the right to request additional information on a case by case basis.

We believe this risk-based approach is appropriate for these small-medium sized businesses and that external validation should be performed when the context calls for it.

Pathzero has developed a sophisticated predictive model based on company attributes that estimates the CO2e emissions, by source for a company. For the Carbon Neutral Company label, the Protocol allows these estimates to be used for non-material scope 3 emissions. 

Instead of excluding or 'non-quantifying emissions', a full scope measurement can be done efficiently using these estimates.

Emissions boundary scope

One of the hardest parts of applying the requirements of a protocol is determining the emission sources to be included in an inventory. A small business operator would have to get to grips with Greenhouse Gas protocol definitions of "Scope 1, 2 and 3" emissions and ensure that all relevant emissions are included.

Pathzero's protocol defines the emission sources (under Scope 1, 2 and 3) that should be included for a particular industry. Once the emission sources for a particular industry have been determined, there is no need to re-invent the wheel on every assessment. The Pathzero protocol prescribes the minimum scope 3 categories to be included.

Conclusion

We believe that climate action, in the form of going carbon neutral, should be accessible to all organisations. We believe that there is a way to use technology and industry experience to strike the right balance of the rigour of measurement, without making it so difficult that is stops climate action in its tracks.

Pathzero aspires to be part of the global enabling companies that will help tip the climate odds back in our favour. We are open to collaboration and would appreciate constructive feedback and debate on these points.

 

View the Protocol

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