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July 20, 2021

Question Time: Get the answers to this month's questions

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Aleena Dewji

Pathzero Question Time is a monthly resource where our in-house experts answer your recently submitted carbon and sustainability-related questions. With lots of buzzwords, new technology, and ambiguity within the sustainability industry, it can be hard to gain access to information that you know is technically correct and reliable. With Pathzero question time we aim to bridge the knowledge gap between consultants, business owners, and consumers. 

Answering your questions this month is Aleena Dewji, the Senior Carbon and Sustainability Specialist at Pathzero. Here are your answers:

How does measuring a carbon footprint help my business reach its environmental goals and targets?

The first step in setting environmental goals and targets is to measure your organisation's carbon footprint. Measuring your carbon footprint not only provides your organisation with a baseline understanding of your current emissions, but also highlights key insights on the various impacts that your operational activities might be having. This exercise allows you to gain a better understanding of emission hotspots, trends, and the impact of your entire value chain.

The process further allows you to identify your top emission sources. This can be used to develop an emission reduction strategy that targets key areas of opportunity. Alongside this, your organisation can develop smart reduction targets and goals, specific to the organisation.  

By measuring and actively managing your carbon emissions, reduction opportunities, and targets, progress can be easily tracked leading to actual emission reductions.  This allows for meaningful environmental action to be taken and progress to be seen over time. Read this blog for more insights.

What should I be looking for when purchasing Carbon Offset credits?

When looking to purchase carbon offset credits, it's important to look for credits that have been created under a reputable registry. This ensures that the project follows an approved methodology and any emission removals, reductions, and avoidances are verified or validated by an external third-party.  

Some internationally recognised carbon offsets include: Verified Carbon Units (VCUs) from the Verra Registry, Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) from the Australian Clean Energy Regulator, and Gold Standard registered carbon credits. Pathzero provides access to these verified offsets directly through our Carbon Marketplace, click here to learn about our carbon projects. 

Why it is important to create an emissions reduction strategy?

An emissions reduction strategy can serve many purposes:

  1. It sets out specific timeframes and identifies responsible individuals for each emission reduction initiative. This ensures that initiatives do not fall under the radar, are being continuously tracked and monitored, and are implemented by the timeframe set out.
  2. It identifies the key emission reduction areas for the organisation. Without a cohesive strategy, it can be overwhelming to narrow down potential opportunities.  
  3. Under some carbon neutral certification programs (e.g. Climate Active), it is required for an organisation to implement and track emission reduction initiatives. 
  4. It creates a tangible roadmap to ensure that your organisation is able to reduce emissions over time. 

A key aspect of carbon neutrality is to reduce emissions as much as possible before purchasing offsets. Furthermore, as more organisations set carbon neutral targets and aim to neutralise their impact through carbon offsetting, the amount of verified carbon offset credits available in the market will be significantly reduced. Prioritising action through emission reduction initiatives is becoming imperative. 

Further, as the race to meet The Paris Agreement intensifies and as organisations look to achieve net zero Science Based Targets, emissions reduction initiatives are becoming an integral part of sustainability strategy. Going forward, all organisations will need to identify and track reduction opportunities in a meaningful way to ensure that progress is being achieved and targets are being met. 

Are my emissions being double counted? 

When completing a carbon inventory, an emissions boundary must be set in order to correctly identify all relevant emission sources. Emission sources can either be those that are a direct result of the organisation's operational activities (Scope 1 and 2) or those which are indirectly related to operational activities (Scope 3). 

Scope 3 emissions are from sources that are owned or controlled by other entities. Examples include: emissions from professional service firms that your organisation uses, staff travel including business flights and commuting to an office, or expenditure on stationery or IT equipment. Scope 3 emissions are measured in order to comprehensively manage all greenhouse gas-related risks and opportunities from an organisation's full value chain.

Emission scopes have been defined such that two or more companies do not double count the same emissions in Scope 1 or Scope 2. However, there may be instances where multiple organisations account for the same Scope 3 emission sources. Although these emissions may be double counted, it is important to note that each entity in the value chain has a different level of influence over the emissions from a particular source.

With multiple organisations accounting for emissions in Scope 3, they can simultaneously work to reduce emissions. Entities will have differing levels of influence over both the emissions and reductions. Therefore, it is acceptable that emissions might be double counted under Scope 3.

As multiple entities may be double counting Scope 3 emissions, it is imperative that these emissions are not aggregated across companies to determine total emissions for a specific region. 

The Question Time submission page enables climate champions and aspiring climate champions to submit questions. These questions can range from general inquiries about the carbon industry to specific and technical questions.

To learn more about Question Time and to submit your question, click here.

Visit the submission page

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