Category Archives: 2021

What the latest IPCC report means for your net-zero target [with video]

The IPCC’s recently-released report, Climate Change 2021: the Physical Science Basis has issued the strongest call yet for urgent and deep cuts to be made to global greenhouse gas emissions.

The Working Group I Report says the window in which to deliver the “deep emissions cuts” needed to prevent the worst impacts of climate change is closing rapidly.

A key message from the report is that rapid reductions in emissions are required this decade to prevent long-term ecological and climate breakdown, with every fraction of a degree making a huge difference in avoiding a climate disaster.

The IPCC’s report five emission scenarios

The report examines five illustrative scenarios, which are[1]:

  1. Doubling of carbon emissions by 2050
  2. Doubling of carbon emissions by 2100
  3. Carbon emissions stay at current levels to mid-century
  4. Net-zero after 2050, and net negative emissions later in the century
  5. Net-zero around 2050, and net negative emissions later in the century

 

Figure 1: The five emission scenarios used in the latest IPCC report

The bad news is that in all five scenarios, the best estimate is that we will pass 1.5C in the 2030s, even under the rapid mitigation scenarios.

The lowest scenario for carbon emissions was designed to create a pathway to limit warming to 1.5C. So, if your organisation is committed to reach net-zero by around mid-century, then this scenario is the only one realistically available, provided you act now to reduce your emissions significantly this decade.

 

Figure 2: IPCC’s five emission scenarios[2]
So how much carbon can we still emit under a 1.5C scenario? This is what the next section on the remaining carbon budget will answer.

Carbon budget – how much carbon can we still emit?

The main driver of long-term warming is the total cumulative emissions of greenhouse gases over time. Carbon budgets are based on the fact that the amount of global warming can be approximated to cumulative carbon emissions.

We have a 50/50 chance to limit warming to 1.5C if we stay within a global carbon budget of 500 billion tonnes. At pre-pandemic global emission rates, this gives us under 11 years before we exceed 1.5C.

 

Figure 3: Remaining carbon budget. Figure adapted from FAQs from latest IPCC report

If we want a better chance – two in three – of achieving around 1.5C of warming by mid-century, then we can emit just 400 billion tonnes globally, and we have even less time to act.

Scenarios versus risk management

The problem with using these scenarios is that organisations tend to overlook the uncertainty that is involved with these scenarios. To say that we can emit 500 billion tonnes of carbon and still stay at around 1.5C of warming is incorrect – it simply gives a 50/50 chance that this will be the outcome. And at 400 billion tonnes, we have a two thirds chance of getting to around 1.5C.

Those odds are OK but not great. If a new product or service had a one-in-two or a one-in-three chance of being unsuccessful, you might want to invest further resources in a solution to ensure a higher chance of success. It should be the same for your business’ climate response.

Where to from here?

If we make deep cuts to emissions now, and keep going to rapidly decarbonise by 2040 or earlier then we may have a chance of keeping temperature increase to a safe level. We only have a small carbon budget remaining to limit warming to 1.5C. Meeting this goal is still achievable if we act quickly and decisively.

Starting today, making deep emissions cuts, and persisting on this path for years is the only response from governments and business that can achieve this.

So what immediate three steps can you take in your business?

1) Set a net-zero target that recognises the climate emergency

2) Develop a comprehensive carbon footprint and plan to decarbonise rapidly

3) Don’t wait – implement your plan

 

[1] IPCC, 2021: Summary for Policymakers. In: Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Masson-Delmotte, V., P. Zhai, A. Pirani, S. L. Connors, C. Péan, S. Berger, N. Caud, Y. Chen, L. Goldfarb, M. I. Gomis, M. Huang, K. Leitzell, E. Lonnoy, J.B.R. Matthews, T. K. Maycock, T. Waterfield, O. Yelekçi, R. Yu and B. Zhou (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press. In Press, Figure SPM.8: Selected indicators of global climate change under the five illustrative scenarios used in this report

[2] Graphs from IPCC, 2021: Summary for Policymakers. In: Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Masson-Delmotte, V., P. Zhai, A. Pirani, S. L. Connors, C. Péan, S. Berger, N. Caud, Y. Chen, L. Goldfarb, M. I. Gomis, M. Huang, K. Leitzell, E. Lonnoy, J.B.R. Matthews, T. K. Maycock, T. Waterfield, Yelekçi, R. Yu and B. Zhou (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press. In Press, Figure SPM.8: Selected indicators of global climate change under the five illustrative scenarios used in this report

Where can you get help?

100% Renewables are experts in helping organisations develop their carbon footprint net-zero strategies. If you need help, please contact  Barbara or Patrick.

Feel free to use an excerpt of this blog on your own site, newsletter, blog, etc. Just send us a copy or link and include the following text at the end of the excerpt: “This content is reprinted from 100% Renewables Pty Ltd’s blog.

Frequently asked questions about setting a scope 3 science-based target [with video]

According to the Paris Agreement, we need to reach net-zero emissions by mid-century to avoid catastrophic climate change. One way to translate from this requirement to corporate, transformational climate action is to set targets aligned to current climate science. Science-based targets provide you with a clearly defined pathway that specifies how much and how quickly you need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In previous blog posts, I talked about general requirements in setting a science-based target; in this article, I’m answering commonly asked questions for developing a science-based target for your scope 3 emissions.

Do we have to set a science-based target for our scope 3 emissions?

According to the SBTi, you only need to set a science-based target for your scope 3 emissions if they are larger than 40% of your overall carbon footprint.

Does a scope 3 science-based target need to cover all scope 3 emissions?

Your scope 3 target boundary should collectively cover at least two-thirds of your total scope 3 emissions.

Does our scope 3 science-based target have to be absolute-based, or can it be intensity-based?

Your scope 3 target can be absolute, intensity or engagement-based.

Absolute-based means that you have to achieve emissions reduction from a certain baseline by a target year. Here is an example of an absolute-based reduction target for a scope 3 emission source: ‘Siemens AG commits to reduce absolute scope 3 GHG emissions 15% by 2030 from a 2019 base year.’

Intensity-based means that you have to achieve emissions reduction based on a metric such as ‘unit of production’, e.g., ‘tonnes’ if you are a manufacturer. Here is an example of an intensity-based reduction target for a scope 3 emission source: ‘Reduce GHG emissions per tonne of product by 30% by 2030 from a 2017 base year.’

Engagement-based means that you are engaging your value chain partners in settings SBTs, meaning that you are requesting your suppliers to set their own science-based targets. Supplier or customer engagement targets may be valuable if you

  • have yet to identify levers for more specific reduction opportunities amongst your value chain partners
  • you have mostly indirect expenditure and therefore don’t spend enough on individual suppliers to support collaborative reduction efforts.

It’s best not to use supplier engagement targets when the majority of emissions from purchased products and services come from tier 2 suppliers or suppliers even further removed from you, as you may not be able to influence emissions reduction.

Here is an example of a supplier engagement target: ‘Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corporation Limited commits that 87% of suppliers by spend covering purchased goods and services and the use of sold products will have science-based targets by FY2024.’

Do scope 3 science-based targets need to be as ambitious as scope 1 and scope 2?

SBTi encourages you to set scope 3 targets using the same science-based methods required for scope 1 and scope 2; however, SBTi also accepts targets that it deems ‘ambitious’.

If your target is absolute-based, the minimum ambition is a 1.23% annual linear reduction (please note that this is different from the 2-degree pathway for scopes 1 and 2), but you are encouraged to pursue a 4.2% annual linear reduction.

If your target is intensity-based, you need to cap absolute emissions at a base year level and achieve a physical intensity reduction at a minimum rate of 2% in annual linear terms. For example, if you commit to reducing GHG emissions per tonne of product by 30% by 2030 from a 2017 base year, this is a 30 ÷ 13 = 2.31% intensity reduction in annual linear terms. 2.31% meets SBTi’s minimum physical intensity improvement requirement.

If your target is engagement-based, you must meet the target within five years to ensure timely emissions reductions.

Where can you get help?

100% Renewables are experts in helping organisations develop their carbon footprint and emissions reduction strategies. If you need help with your Climate Action Strategy, or setting targets in line with science, please contact  Barbara or Patrick.

Feel free to use an excerpt of this blog on your own site, newsletter, blog, etc. Just send us a copy or link and include the following text at the end of the excerpt: “This content is reprinted from 100% Renewables Pty Ltd’s blog.