Target setting – What should be the scope of your target?

Setting climate change targets is an important part of developing a renewable energy or carbon reduction strategy for your business. Targets will provide guidance and direction, facilitate proper planning, set employee expectations and will help you evaluate organisational performance against your stated goals.

With a goal, you will let everyone know about where your organisation is headed. With a strategy that supports your targets, you will know how to get there in the most efficient way.

In this blog post, we would like to share a few common questions about the basics of goal setting and about the scope of your target. In the next blog post, we will talk about global, and national goals you should be aware of.

Should you set yourself a target before or after you develop your renewable energy strategy?

In general, we would recommend that you develop your strategy and action plans first to evaluate what level of reduction will be possible with energy efficiency and renewable energy measures. This will tend to lead to targets that are known to be realistic and achievable. However, an ambitious and inspirational target can signal what an organisation values and wants to achieve. It can also motivate to identify and develop the solutions that will lead to the goal.

Should you set yourself a carbon emissions or renewable energy target?

There are many ways targets can be set. In the context of climate change mitigation, the most common targets relate to either carbon emissions or renewable energy.

Carbon reduction targets

Carbon reduction targets can be in absolute or relative terms. For instance, you could set yourself an absolute reduction target of 40% by 2025 from the 2018 baseline. You could also set yourself a relative reduction target, which measures your reduction activities against a figure like your production output, staff numbers, operating hours or square metres. An example would be ‘achieve a 50% reduction of our carbon emissions/FTE by 2023 from our 2016 baseline’.

Renewable energy targets

Renewable energy targets are usually expressed as the percentage of energy you would like to source from renewable energy. For example, you could have a goal for your organisation to be ‘50% renewable by 2025’.

What should you include within the scope of your target?

Renewable energy targets

In the context of a renewable energy goal, you will need to choose whether you will just focus on electricity, whether you would like to include stationary fuels like natural gas, or whether your goal extends to transport energy as well.

WHAT YOU CAN INCLUDE IN A RENEWABLE ENERGY TARGET
Figure 1:  What you can include in a renewable energy target

Carbon emissions targets

In the context of a carbon emissions goal, you will need to think about what kind of emission sources, or what kind of scopes you would like to include.

For instance, you could focus on

  • Carbon emissions directly associated with the burning of fuel and use of electricity (Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions respectively per greenhouse gas accounting).
  • Carbon emissions indirectly associated with fuel and electricity consumption – i.e. upstream extraction, production and transport processes for fuels and electricity (Scope 3 emissions),
  • Carbon emissions associated with the running of your operations such as air travel, employee commute, consumables, catering, emissions from your waste, and other upstream and downstream emissions (Scope 3 emissions).

Factors to consider

When considering what should be included in targets, it is important to consider several factors:

  • Energy that you can influence or control. Typically, stationary electricity is easy to include as solutions are available or near-commercial that can make this a fully renewable supply in a short timeframe – e.g., 5-10 years. However renewable energy fuels for transport are not yet widely available or commercially viable but will be in future.
  • Emissions that you can control or have confidence that they are declining. Waste management, for example, is a complex task, and the ability to set emissions reduction targets may rely on whether or not a waste management strategy is in place or planned. If not, then it may be difficult to set a target that is realistic and achievable.
  • Is an emissions source material or not? For example, LPG consumption may be trivial compared with other sources, so should time and effort be devoted to tracking and managing this source?
  • Your ability to account for all of the sources you may want to track so that you can report on its progress towards reaching goals. Often 80%+ of emissions can be readily accounted for with minimal effort or use of pre-existing systems (from simple spreadsheets to proprietary data collection and reporting systems), whereas the remaining ~20% of emissions can involve significant effort to both establish and then track emissions on an ongoing basis. The National Carbon Offset Standard (NCOS) program is working to make this simpler for organisations to report and offset their carbon impact.
  • Consideration of your overarching purpose in setting goals or targets, such as for
    • internal cost-cutting
    • internal management of emissions
    • to provide guidance and leadership
    • to partner with like-minded organisations to share information and knowledge that is mutually beneficial
    • or all of these

What should be your preferred approach for setting a target?

There is no one preferred approach to selecting what should be included in targets.

In our experience many organisations have

  1. good data and renewables or abatement plans for electricity,
  2. good data but limited plans for reducing transport emissions, and
  3. mixed data and strategic plans including emissions reduction for scope 3 emissions like waste.

This tends to influence what is included in the scope of renewable energy or carbon emissions targets, often starting with a narrow scope of significant sources with an intent to expand the scope of targets.

Other organisations may have excellent data and plans across multiple energy and emissions sources, within their operations and their supply chains, and set the scope of targets accordingly.

100% Renewables are experts in helping organisations develop their carbon reduction strategy and advising on appropriate goals. If you need help with developing your targets, please contact  Barbara or Patrick.

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