Time to get serious about net zero

Valpy Fitzgerald, renewables director at Drax explains why businesses should use COP26 as an opportunity to advance their net zero plans and offers six steps on the pathway to NetZero

All eyes are on Glasgow for the next two weeks when world leaders come together for the long awaited COP26 summit.  It will be a major moment for the UK in terms of climate diplomacy and a significant milestone for other international players. If we are to tackle the climate crisis, many believe it will be the world’s last best chance to get climate change under control.

For businesses looking to do their part and advance their own net zero plans, they should be seizing the moment and use this year’s COP summit as an opportunity to make their own commitments and help determine the future of climate action.

1 Enter the race 

The COP26 president has called for businesses to join the Race to Zero campaign, which requires them to sign up to science-based carbon targets. The campaign has over 3,000 signatories so far, including Drax. The objective is to build momentum for a decarbonised economy and send a clear signal to government that businesses are united in meeting the Paris goals.

2 Set clear and ambitious targets 

Organisations can show their commitment to net zero and fighting climate change by setting clear and ambitious targets – with a little help from the experts. The Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi) promotes best practice to businesses by offering a range of target-setting resources and guidance, and independently assessing those targets in line with its strict criteria.

3 Report openly, to help open markets 

Every financial director should be aware of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). The TCFD provides guidance on how companies should report the potential financial impacts from climate change on their business. This differs from the approach taken by many businesses today that focus on reporting the impact their organisation has on the environment. This voluntary disclosure can complement other reporting obligations and help markets to identify and reward solutions to climate change.

4 Get renewable 

While many companies are already reducing their carbon emissions and energy bills, the RE100 commitment goes further and signs companies up to going 100 per cent renewable. It is a global initiative to support and showcase companies which share a common goal of using 100 per cent renewable electricity.

Many suppliers now offer renewable power, so businesses should consider exploring the alternatives when their existing contract is due to end.

5 Go EV 

The government’s plan to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030 means businesses need to get serious about switching to EVS. This is supported by National Grid’s net zero by 2050 scenarios presented in the Future Energy Scenarios report (FES), which states all new cars will have zero emissions by 2035. Accordingly, UK organisations have the potential to greatly reduce emissions, given the number of firms with large fleets which are considering the transition to electric.

The right suppliers can help companies to build a business case by outlining benefits, such as cheaper long-term running costs. The same supplier should also be able to guide them through the whole process, from pre-assessment through to installation and management.

6 Recognise and make the change 

When all the immediate media focus around COP26 has died down, focus will move from words to action. To achieve net zero it is crucial that we work together.

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