Tag Archives: carbon footprint

Net-zero goals – how to determine what’s in and what’s out?

Your business is considering a net-zero commitment or maybe you have just committed to net-zero emissions – so what’s next? An important part of making this commitment or of developing a net zero plan is to work out what this goal will encompass. To ensure that you are setting a credible target and to avoid reputational damage, you should be very clear in your communications what boundary your net-zero goal relates to.

A net-zero goal can relate to your operational emissions only, or it can extend to your supply chain. It could relate to your whole organisation, or only to part of it.

In this article, we will focus on whether you should include scope 3 emission sources.

Should you include scope 3 emission sources?

If you are reporting under compliance-based schemes such as the NGER legislation in Australia, you will probably be aware of your scope 1 and scope 2 carbon footprint.

Please watch the video below for an explainer of scope 1, 2 and scope 3 emission sources.

However, there are many more emission sources that happen upstream and downstream in your supply chain. For many companies, more than 80% of their emissions occur outside of their own operations[1]. So, if you focus your net-zero efforts on your scope 1 and scope 2 carbon footprint only, you will neglect to address the many emission sources you have in your value chain.

Please watch the video below for an explainer of the 15 categories of scope 3 emissions.

Determining which scope 3 emission sources are relevant for you

Not all of the 15 categories of scope 3 emission sources will be relevant for you. The following is a good checklist, which we have adapted from the Greenhouse Gas Protocol:

  1. Is the emission source large relative to your scope 1 and scope 2 emissions?
  2. Does the emission source contribute to your greenhouse gas risk exposure?
  3. Do key stakeholders such as customers or investors deem the emission source critical?
  4. Could you reduce the associated emissions or at least influence emission reduction?

Steps you could take to determine what’s in and out of your scope

The following is a list of suggestions for how you could determine what’s in and out of your net-zero goal:

  1. Have a meeting with key organisational stakeholders to workshop all your emission sources
  2. Discuss whether these emission sources are relevant for your organisation as per the above checklist
  3. If the emission source is relevant, you could consider including it in your net-zero goal

How you could workshop your emission sources

To ensure that no significant scope 3 emissions sources are lost, we recommend that you go through all 15 categories. Here is how we do it at 100% Renewables:

We usually start by showing emissions sources associated with your organisation’s activities. In most cases, this consists of scope 1 and scope 2 emission sources such as the burning of fossil fuel onsite, or the consumption of electricity. Where you operate air conditioning or refrigeration equipment, fugitive emissions from hydrofluorocarbons should also be taken into account.

Scope 1 and scope 2 emissions sources
Figure 1 – Scope 1 and scope 2 emissions sources

Then, we show you upstream and downstream emissions in your value chain, such as shown below.

Figure 2 – Full value chain emissions sources

Usually, category 1 ‘Purchased goods and services’ is a large emissions source – just ask your Finance department for a General Ledger extract of your expenses and you’ll see what we mean.

It is considered best practice to include upstream fuel and energy, and you should assess whether emissions from outsourced transportation and distribution, such as couriers are relevant to you. Every organisation is generating waste, so that should be included as well. Business travel encompasses activities such as air travel and accommodation. Staff commuting is also an important emissions source, particularly if people mostly use cars to get to your place of work.

Where your products generate emissions when they are being used (say you were selling vacuum cleaners), then you should consider the relevance of this emission source as well. If you have investments in joint ventures, subsidiaries or similar that are not accounted for under scope 1 and 2, you could consider also including them in your scope 3 carbon footprint.

[1] * State of Green Business 2013, GreenBiz

If you need help with your net-zero goal, defining the scope or planning to reach net-zero, 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.

Bridging the ambition gap [with video]

This blog post is following on from various previous articles. The first is ‘Science-based targets in a nutshell’, the second is ‘Ambitious commitments by universities’, and the third is ‘Ambitious commitments by state and local governments’ in Australia. While it is great to see so many ambitious commitments by climate change leaders, more businesses need to follow this lead and help bridge the emissions gap and act on climate change.

Despite the increased focus on climate change in the last few years and the milestone Paris Agreement, global greenhouse gas emissions have not reduced, and the emissions gap between where we should be and where we are is larger than ever.

As you can see figure 1 below, which is being updated regularly by Climate Action Tracker, without additional efforts, human-caused carbon emissions may increase to over 100 billion tonnes annually by 2100, which is double current global emissions.

2100 Warming Projections, Climate Action Tracker - Sep 2020 update
Figure 1: 2100 Warming Projections, Climate Action Tracker – Sep 2020 update

You can see a simpler version of this graphic in figure 2. The main driver of long-term warming is the total cumulative emissions of greenhouse gases over time. In the past decades, greenhouse gas emissions have been increasing.

Global warming projections, 100% Renewables
Figure 2: Global warming projections, 100% Renewables

Due to all historical and current carbon emissions, global temperatures have already risen by about 1°C from pre-industrial levels.

Continuing with business-as-usual could result in a temperature increase of over 4°C.

If all countries achieved their Paris Agreement targets, this could limit warming to roughly 3°C.

However, to limit warming to 1.5°C, current Paris pledges made by countries are not enough.

Carbon emissions need to start to decline rapidly in the near future and reach net-zero by mid-century if we are to have a chance of keeping warming to 1.5°C.

To bridge this ambition gap, not only do governments need to act, so do businesses and communities. To keep temperature increase within safe levels, you need to track along the 1.5-degree line, and to do that, you should set yourself carbon reduction goals in line with science. For every one year of failed action, the window to net-zero is reduced by two years.

It’s time to take a stand on a global stage and act on climate change. So what are three steps you can take?

  • Set a target in line with science
  • Develop a climate action plan
  • Reduce emissions in your business and your value chain

I recorded a 3-min video of a presentation on this topic I recently held for one of our clients, which you can watch here:

100% Renewables are experts in helping organisations develop their climate change strategies and action plans, and supporting the implementation and achievement of ambitious targets. If you need help to develop your Climate Change Strategy, 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.

What is the meaning of carbon-neutral, net-zero and climate-neutral?

There are several terms that describe ambitious climate action targets such as ‘carbon-neutral’, ‘net-zero’ and ‘climate-neutral’, and we are sometimes asked whether these terms can be used interchangeably.

Are the terms ‘carbon-neutral’, ‘net-zero’ and ‘climate-neutral’ the same or are they different?

Whether you are using ‘carbon-neutral’, ‘net-zero’, or ‘climate neutral’ in your goal, they all reflect the same intent to reduce or eliminate your organisation’s impact on the climate system.

In most cases, these terms are and can be used interchangeably, but there are differences in how they are defined and what they are taken to mean in terms of how goals are to be achieved. Let’s have a look at the definitions of the terms first.

How do you define carbon-neutral, net-zero emissions and climate-neutral?

According to the IPCC Special Report: Global Warming of 1.5°C, the definitions are as follows:

Definition of carbon neutrality

Carbon neutrality, or net-zero carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, is achieved when your organisation’s CO2 emissions are balanced globally by CO2 removal, typically over one year.

Definition of net-zero emissions

Net-zero emissions are achieved when your organisation’s emissions of all greenhouse gases (CO2-e) are balanced by greenhouse gas removals, typically over one year.

Definition of climate neutrality

Climate neutrality is achieved when organisational activities result in no net effect on the climate system. In climate-neutral claims, regional or local bio-geophysical effects have to be accounted for as well, such as radiative forcing (e.g. from aircraft condensation trails).

In summary, a carbon-neutral target relates to carbon dioxide only, whereas a ‘net-zero’ goal includes all greenhouse gases, and a ‘climate-neutral’ goals extends to other effects such as radiative forcing as well. For an explanation of the different greenhouse gases and radiative forcing, please read the appendix.

For most companies, carbon-neutral, net-zero and climate-neutral mean the same.

If an organisation releases mainly carbon dioxide, there is not much difference between using the term carbon-neutral, net-zero or climate-neutral.

Also, for most sectors, net-zero emissions and climate neutrality are the same due to the most important climate impact being the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. However, some sectors, such as aviation, should consider other climate impacts from non-CO2 radiative forcing as well.

Examples of carbon-neutral, net-zero and climate-neutral claims

You can see examples of how these targets can be turned into claims in the graphic below. The horizontal axis shows the potential scope of an organisation’s emissions, from CO2-only to climate neutral. The vertical axis shows the scope of activities that are covered, from site level through to the full value chain of an organisation.

WRI definitions net zero carbon neutral climate neutral

Figure 1: Scopes of carbon neutrality, net-zero and climate neutrality. Source: CDP and SBTi.

For examples of how organisations are phrasing their commitments, have a look at the following:

Apple, which is already carbon neutral for corporate emissions worldwide, committed to be 100% carbon neutral for its supply chain and products by 2030. They plan on ‘bringing their entire footprint to net zero 20 years sooner than IPCC targets’.

H&M, have committed to the following:

  • Climate positive by 2040 throughout H&M Group’s entire value chain.
  • Climate-neutral supply chain for our manufacturing and processing factories owned or subcontracted by our suppliers as well as our suppliers’ own suppliers (i.e. fabric mills, fibre processors, spinners or tanneries) by 2030.
  • Reduce scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions by 40% before 2030 (baseline 2017).
  • Reduce scope 3 GHG emissions from purchased raw materials, fabric production and garments by 59% per product before 2030 (baseline 2017).
  • Increase annual sourcing of renewable electricity from 95% in 2017 to 100% by 2030.

In Australia, Atlassian committed to:

  • running their operations on 100% renewable energy by 2025
  • setting science-based targets to limit warming to 1.5°C
  • achieve net-zero emissions by no later than 2050.

Reaching carbon neutrality/net-zero emissions/climate neutrality

In addition to what climate forces are included in targets, there are also different interpretations of how a particular target will be reached.

For example, most people understand a net-zero or a climate-neutral target to mean that a business puts significant emphasis on reducing or mitigating emissions in their own organisation, and will buy offsets to address residual emissions. For many, a carbon-neutral goal is seen as a strategy that mainly relies on the purchase of carbon offsets. In that sense, a carbon-neutral goal can be seen as an interim goal on the journey to net-zero emissions.

Please read the appendix for further information on offsets.

Carbon neutral under Climate Active

Climate Active is a Commonwealth Government program that allows Australian organisations to achieve certified carbon neutral status for their whole organisation, products/services, events and buildings/precincts. Climate Active is a rigorous program which ensures that your climate claim is credible. For more information on this program, please read our three-part blog series- Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

When going carbon neutral under Climate Active, all greenhouse gas emissions must be considered, including your organisation’s emissions, emissions in your value chain, and radiative forcing for flights. In addition, you need to develop a strategy on how to reduce emissions in your organisation, not just offset them.

When committing to be carbon neutral under Climate Active, you can safely assume that your carbon-neutral goal is synonymous with a climate-neutral or net-zero goal in terms of emissions coverage, as shown in the following graphic:

Climate Active definition of carbon neutrality

Figure 2: Climate Active carbon-neutral can be interpreted to be the same as net-zero and climate-neutral

Five factors you should consider when setting your climate target

To ensure that you are setting a credible target and to avoid reputational damage, you should be mindful of the following considerations when defining your carbon-neutral/net-zero/climate-neutral target:

  1. Define what greenhouse gases you include in your claim. Only CO2, or all relevant greenhouse gases?
  2. Define what entity is addressed in your claim. Only operational emissions, or also your supply chain? Will you make an event carbon neutral or one of your buildings or products/services?
  3. Define what emission sources form part of your claim. Will you include all carbon scopes or just a select few? Will you perform a materiality assessment across your emission sources to find out which you should include?’
  4. Define the strategy on how you intend to reach your target. Will you use carbon offsets? How much focus will you place on reducing emissions that fall under your operational control? How much focus will you put on reducing emissions in your value chain?
  5. Define the timeframe. Be mindful of setting the year you want to reach your goal at least in line with science. Consider setting yourself an interim carbon reduction target in line with science.

What comes after net-zero?

Reaching net-zero is an important achievement for any organisation, but it is only one step towards stabilising our climate. Beyond net-zero, we need to remove more greenhouse gases than we are adding to the atmosphere.

Ambitious climate change leaders are starting to turn their attention to balancing out their historical emissions, as well as their current and future emissions. They are also beginning to think about becoming ‘carbon-negative’ or ‘climate-positive’, which means that you are removing more GHG from the atmosphere than you are adding to it.

Appendix

What greenhouse gases are there?

When thinking of greenhouse gases, most people would list carbon dioxide as the main culprit. CO2 is indeed the most prevalent greenhouse gas, but according to the GHG Protocol, there are seven greenhouse gases (GHG) that organisations should report on:

  1. Carbon dioxide (CO2), which is mostly emitted by burning fossil fuels
  2. Methane (CH4), which is mostly emitted by growing ruminant animals such as sheep and cows, and from landfills
  3. Nitrous oxide (N2O), which is mostly emitted by growing crops (fertiliser usage) and livestock (manure)
  4. Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are mostly emitted by refrigeration equipment
  5. Perfluorocarbons (PFCs), which are mostly emitted by the aluminium industry
  6. Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6), mostly emitted by switchgear
  7. Nitrogen trifluoride (NF3), mostly emitted in computer manufacturing

Carbon dioxide is the most important greenhouse gas due to the vast quantities that are being emitted and due to its long life – hundreds of years – in the atmosphere. Another such ‘long-lived’ GHG is nitrous oxide, at more than 100 years.

Methane, for instance, exists in the atmosphere for a much shorter period, but has a much higher global warming potential than CO2, meaning that this gas causes more global warming per tonne than CO2.

Most fluorinated gases (PFCs, SF6, HFCs) have very high global warming potentials, so small atmospheric concentrations can have disproportionately large effects on global temperatures. They can also last in the atmosphere for thousands of years. And whereas carbon dioxide can be absorbed by growing plants, no living organism needs HFCs in any of their processes.

Most organisations are emitting carbon dioxide as their most significant greenhouse gas.

What is non-CO2 radiative forcing?

A recent study called ‘The contribution of global aviation to anthropogenic climate forcing for 2000 to 2018’ shows that global aviation warms Earth’s surface through both CO2 and net non-CO2 contributions.

Aviation contributions involve a range of atmospheric physical processes, including plume dynamics, chemical transformations, microphysics, radiation, and transport, which you can see in the image below. Interestingly, the study reveals that two-thirds of the climate impact from aviation is caused by emissions other than CO2.

Climate forcings from global aviation

Figure 3: How aviation affects the climate system

How can you reach carbon neutrality/net-zero/climate neutrality?

To reach the goal of the Paris Agreement, emissions must be reduced as close to zero as possible, as quickly as possible. By 2030, we need to have halved emissions.

Both CO2 and non-CO2 emissions can be reduced by decarbonising grid energy, building more sustainably, producing our goods and services more sustainably and transporting our goods more sustainably.

In addition, targeted non-CO2 mitigation measures can reduce nitrous oxide and methane emissions from agriculture, as well as methane emissions from the waste sector. HFCs in refrigeration equipment can also be replaced with less harmful substances.

Offsetting

Offsets are a useful way to reach a carbon-neutral target right away. One offset equals one tonne of greenhouse gas emissions that is avoided or reduced elsewhere. However, you need to make sure that you purchase highly credible carbon offsets that meet rigorous selection criteria.

Carbon offsets can be generated from projects that remove carbon from the atmosphere, such as planting trees, which need CO2 to grow.

Offsets can also be generated from activities that avoid emissions (compared to a hypothetical business-as-usual scenario), such as wind farm projects, or energy efficiency projects.

Which is more popular? Carbon neutral, net-zero or climate-neutral?

Analysing past submissions to CDP shows that most companies use the term ‘carbon-neutral’ over terms such as ‘climate-neutral’ or ‘net-zero’. However, the term ‘net-zero’ is becoming increasingly popular.

A search on Google trends over the past three years reveals that in Australia, the term ‘carbon-neutral’ is a more popular search term compared to ‘net-zero’, which in turn is more popular than the term ‘climate-neutral’.

Popularity of search terms on Google

Figure 4: Google search trends for ‘carbon-neutral’, ‘net-zero’ and ‘climate-neutral’[1]

[1] Numbers represent search interest relative to the highest point on the chart for the given region and time. A value of 100 is the peak popularity for the term. A value of 50 means that the term is half as popular. A score of 0 means there was not enough data for this term.

100% Renewables are experts in helping organisations develop their climate action strategies and plans, and supporting the implementation and achievement of ambitious targets. If you need help to develop your Climate Action Strategy, 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.

FAQs for becoming certified under Climate Active – Part 3

This article follows on from part 1 and part 2 of this series, in which we discussed general questions about carbon neutrality, scopes, the Climate Active Program and typical emissions sources in a Climate Active carbon footprint. In this blog post, we’ll address how to get certified carbon neutral under Climate Active and how much it costs to get certified under the Climate Active program.

How do I become certified under Climate Active?

To become certified carbon neutral under Climate Active, there are four basic steps.

  1. Determine your carbon footprint boundary
  2. Calculate your carbon footprint
  3. Get your carbon footprint verified
  4. Purchase carbon offsets and submit all documentation to the Commonwealth Government

What responsibilities do you have under Climate Active?

The following list shows your responsibilities under the Climate Active program. Please note that a registered consultant can help you with engaging a verifier, collecting all necessary data, completing your report and guiding you through the offset purchase process.

  • Sign Licence Agreement
  • Pay annual fee
  • Engage auditor/verifier
  • Complete report or provide all data to a Registered Consultant (please note that 100% Renewables is a Registered Consultant)
  • Purchase offsets
  • Sign the Public Disclosure Statement and submit the report
  • Submit web profile
  • Use the Climate Active trademark correctly

How much does it cost to become certified under Climate Active?

There are four fee components for getting certified under Climate Active

  • Engage a registered consultant to help you with the carbon inventory boundary and carbon footprint calculation
  • Engage a third-party validation provider to verify the work done by the registered consultant
  • Buy carbon offsets to achieve carbon neutrality
  • Pay Climate Active membership fees

NOTE:
Please contact us for an estimate of how much you will likely need to pay for these four fee components. We can provide you with a 1-page report.

Let’s have a look at these fees in detail.

How much do I have to pay a registered consultant?

We are a registered consultant under the Climate Active program. Our fees depend on the size and complexity of your organisation, on how much of the work you would like to do yourself, as well as on the emission sources that are included. It’s best to contact us for a quote. We will give you a fixed fee quote once we understand your circumstances a bit better.

How much do I have to pay a verifier?

Just like with registered consultant fees, verification costs also increase with the complexity and size of your organisation. It is likely that verification providers will charge a higher fee if you choose not to engage a registered consultant.

What is the difference between a registered consultant and a verifier?

A ‘registered consultant’ can be engaged to develop your carbon inventory boundary, carbon footprint and emission reduction strategy. They would liaise with you, your verifier and the Commonwealth. It is not mandatory, and you could do this step yourself, but it is highly recommended that you do engage a registered consultant as they have the skilled resources who have done the training and are experienced in this work.

A verifier is an independent third party who must be engaged to validate the carbon boundary and footprint. Your registered consultant cannot be the same person or business as the verifier so that there is no conflict of interest.

Could we do any of this work ourselves?

You can develop your own carbon footprint in accordance with the Climate Active rules if you have the in-house resources. In any case, you will need to engage a verifier. You might find that a verifier’s fees are then a little higher, as they may have to do more detailed checking than they would otherwise have to do.

How much do I have to pay for carbon offsets?

There is a wide range of costs, depending on the actual offset project, its location, accreditation standard and co-benefits, as well as the volume you are purchasing. The range can be from $1.50 to $28 per carbon offset.

It is usually helpful to run a workshop with your key stakeholders to work out your preferences and what is feasible given your emissions and budget.

How much are Climate Active membership fees?

Climate Active licence fees depend entirely on the size of your current footprint. There are four brackets which range from under 2,000 tonnes of carbon emissions to over 80,000 tonnes. You will pay between $820 to $2,627 inc GST for the lowest bracket, a fee which will be charged annually. If your footprint is greater than 80,000 tonnes, you will need to pay $18,911 inc GST annually. These fees increase by 2.5% every year.

Do I have to pay all these fees every year?

No. You will have to pay yearly Climate Active membership and carbon offset fees to continue to be a carbon-neutral company. And you do need to calculate your carbon footprint annually as well, but this would be much less than the first time, and you should make sure that all the data collection and calculation processes are documented so that you can do the work in-house, or mainly in-house.

You will only need to pay the validation provider once every three years.

Does the size of my company matter?

Yes, absolutely. Because of the rigour and multi-step process that is involved with getting certified under Climate Active, there is a certain amount of cost involved with becoming carbon neutral under Climate Active.

To give you an example, the smallest bracket under Climate Active is between 0 and 2,000 tonnes of yearly emissions for organisations. 2,000 tonnes of carbon emissions roughly equal the electricity consumption of 300 homes or the fuel consumption of 600 cars.

Say your organisation emitted 100 tonnes of carbon emissions yearly. Climate Active fees would be $820 inc GST, while registered consultant and verification costs can vary between $500 and $10,000 each, depending on who you engage. Carbon offset costs will range from $1,200 to $2,800, depending on the exact carbon credits you would like to purchase.

Do I have to calculate my carbon footprint every year?

Yes, you will have to calculate your carbon footprint every year. Your organisation might have changed, or your carbon footprint boundary, or the way you collect your data. Your business activity may also have changed, resulting in a higher or lower carbon footprint. You may have outsourced activities that were previously insourced. The carbon intensity of the grid may also have changed, resulting in potentially lower emissions.

It is essential to calculate your carbon footprint every year so you can see the effect of those changes. It will allow you to celebrate any success you’ve had with emissions reductions or getting closer to your goal. Alternatively, it will be a good opportunity to put a particular focus on emissions that might have increased over time or that you want to target with your next emission reductions projects.

We recommend using a consultant such as 100% Renewables to help with the yearly calculation, but if you have the skills set and availability inhouse, you can undertake this activity yourself.

If you are going through Climate Active certification for the first time, the whole process can seem a bit confusing. Engaging a registered consultant such as 100% Renewables will ensure a smooth and easy process. Please download our Climate Active brochure to find out more about how we can help you with your Climate Active certification.

100% Renewables’ staff are registered consultants with Climate Active. If you would like to achieve certification, or prepare for certification, please contact Barbara.

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.

 

FAQs for becoming certified under Climate Active – Part 2

One of our service offers is helping our clients determine their Climate Active carbon footprint and obtain Climate Active certification from the Commonwealth Government. Over the last few months, we’ve received many calls of organisations wanting to find out more about Climate Active accreditation, which resulted in the publication of  Part 1 of this series.

In Part 2 of this series, we will discuss more details about scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions and what emission sources typically form part of a Climate Active carbon footprint. In the final blog post of this series, we will go into more details about how to get certified under Climate Active.

What are scope 1, scope 2 and scope 3 emissions?

Scope 1 emissions are emissions directly generated at your operations, such as burning natural gas or driving company cars, or refrigerant gases in your air conditioning equipment.

Scope 2 emissions are caused indirectly by consuming electricity. These emissions are generated outside your organisation (think coal-fired power station), but you are indirectly responsible for them.

Scope 3 emissions are also indirect emissions and happen upstream and downstream of your business. Examples are waste, air travel, the consumption of goods and services, contractor emissions, or leased assets.

Overview of GHG Protocol scopes and emissions across the value chain

Figure 1: Emission sources and scopes – graphic adjusted from the Corporate Value Chain Accounting and Reporting Standard

Supply chain emissions/Scope 3 categories

According to the GHG Protocol, specifically the Corporate Value Chain Accounting and Reporting Standard, there are 15 categories of supply chain/scope 3 emissions

Upstream supply chain emissions

  1. Purchased goods and services
  2. Capital goods
  3. Fuel- and energy-related activities (not included in scope 1 or scope 2)
  4. Upstream transportation and distribution
  5. Waste generated in your operations
  6. Business travel
  7. Employee commuting
  8. Upstream leased assets

Downstream supply chain emissions

  1. Downstream transportation and distribution
  2. Processing of sold products
  3. Use of sold products
  4. End-of-life treatment of sold products
  5. Downstream leased assets
  6. Franchises
  7. Investments

While this list looks a bit overwhelming, not all emission sources will be relevant. It’s important to prioritise your data collection efforts and focus on your most significant and relevant emission sources. You can ask questions such as whether you expect the emission source to be large relative to your scope 1 and scope 2 sources, or whether you have influence over the activity, or whether your stakeholders deem the emission source relevant.

The graphic below shows a graphical representation of a typical Climate Active boundary for emission sources.

Typical Climate Active boundary for emission sources

Figure 2: Typical Climate Active boundary for emission sources

What are the benefits of calculating supply chain/scope 3 emissions?

Just looking at your scope 1 and scope 2 emissions can give you a distorted picture of your environmental impact. Going through the list of upstream and downstream scope 3 emission sources is a great exercise to identify the carbon intensity of your value and supply chain. It encourages the quantification and reporting of emissions from various suppliers, which can help you drive greater emission reductions. It will also have a snowball effect by not only you focusing on reducing your direct emission sources, but also encouraging your suppliers to reduce theirs.

For many organisations scope 3 emissions can represent a much larger emission source than scope 1 and scope 2 emissions, and it is often eye-opening to calculate your carbon footprint across all three scopes. Also, the more scope 3 emission sources you include in your carbon inventory, the more credibility your statement of carbon neutrality will have.

Understanding scope 3 emissions will help you plan for potential future carbon regulations and can guide corporate procurement decisions and product design.

What emission sources are in a typical Climate Active footprint?

A Climate Active carbon footprint encompasses many emission sources across the three carbon accounting scopes. One of the first steps in getting certified under the Climate Active program is to determine your carbon footprint boundary.

You need to include all emissions that you have direct control or ownership of, such as natural gas, transport fuel usage by your vehicles, and electricity consumption in your operations. You also need to identify all emissions that are a consequence of your activities but are outside of your direct ownership or control, such as waste and contractors’ transport.

You must also include emissions from third party electricity use under your organisation’s control even if they are offsite, such as outsourced data centres, if these emissions are large relative to other emission sources.

You don’t need to include every single emission source, but you must assess all other direct and indirect emissions to determine whether they are ‘relevant’.

The relevancy test

Under Climate Active, particular emissions sources are relevant when any two of the following conditions are met:

  • The emissions are likely to be large relative to your electricity, stationary energy and fuel emissions
  • The emissions contribute to your GHG risk exposure, and including and addressing them will help you to avoid future costs related to energy and emissions
  • The emissions are deemed relevant by your key stakeholders (such as major customers, suppliers, investors or the wider community)
  • You have the potential to influence an emissions reduction
  • The emissions are from outsourced activities that were previously undertaken in-house, or from outsourced activities that are typically undertaken within the boundary for comparable organisations. Data centres and transport are typical examples of this.

If an emission source is relevant, you must include it in your carbon footprint boundary. You can exclude emissions that are not relevant, but you should disclose these in your public reporting documents.

You may find that many emission sources will be relevant, but you don’t have to collect data for all of them. For instance, if the associated emissions constitute less than 1% of the total carbon footprint, you can include the source in your boundary, but you don’t have to calculate its associated emissions.

There are many more questions to be answered, so stay tuned for Part 3 of this blog post series. If you are going through Climate Active certification for the first time, the whole process can seem a bit confusing. Engaging a registered consultant such as 100% Renewables will ensure a smooth and easy process. Please download our Climate Active brochure to find out more about how we can help you with your Climate Active certification.

100% Renewables’ staff are registered consultants with Climate Active. If you would like to achieve certification, or prepare for certification, please contact Barbara.

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.

 

FAQs for becoming certified under Climate Active – Part 1

One of our service offers is helping our clients determine their Climate Active carbon footprint and obtain Climate Active certification from the Commonwealth Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources.

Over the last few months, we’ve received many calls of organisations wanting to find out more about Climate Active accreditation, so we thought it would be a good idea to publish a Frequently Asked Questions about Climate Active. In this article, we will discuss questions about the program in general. In the next blog post, we will go into more details about how to get certified under Climate Active.

What is carbon neutrality?

Carbon neutrality (or zero net emissions) is reached when all emissions in your defined carbon footprint boundary are zero. Ideally, your carbon inventory boundary will encompass as many emission sources as possible so that your claim for carbon neutrality is credible.

You can reach carbon neutrality by:

  • Reducing your emissions onsite through energy efficiency or by installing solar PV
  • Buying renewable energy
  • Buying carbon neutral products and services
  • Netting off the rest of your emissions through the purchase of carbon offsets

What is Climate Active?

Carbon neutrality can be self-declared, by calculating your carbon footprint, and offsetting it. However, it does not come with the same credibility as getting certified under a Government-backed program. This is where Climate Active comes in.

Climate Active is a highly trusted certification program, which is administered by the Commonwealth Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources. It was first launched in 2010 and was originally known as the National Carbon Offset Standard (NCOS).

Initially, it was only possible to achieve carbon-neutral certification for organisations, products and services, but in 2017 the certification options were expanded to events, buildings and precincts.

Organisations that achieve certification under this program are allowed to display the Climate Active trademark and logo, which showcases this achievement.

What are the benefits of going carbon neutral under Climate Active?

Becoming certified under Climate Active shows that you are taking a stand in terms of climate change and that you want to be a leadership organisation. It signals to your staff, suppliers, and customers that you have a purpose beyond making money. Climate Active certification provides your business with the opportunity to:

  • Demonstrate that your organisation is a leader by taking a stand on climate action
  • Align with Sustainable Development Goals
  • Differentiate your brand and increase customer recognition
  • Meet growing stakeholder expectations and enhance reputation
  • Attract and retain talented employees and build internal capacity
  • Connect better with the community
  • Generate revenue, increase customer loyalty
  • Save energy and operating costs
  • Future-proof your organisation by managing carbon risk, including supply-chain risk

Can I go carbon neutral outside of Climate Active?

If you are looking to achieve carbon neutrality in Australia, the most credible way is to get certified under Climate Active. However, it is not mandatory to get certified under this Standard. You can use the Standard for guidance in calculating and offsetting your carbon footprint and self-declare carbon neutrality. Alternatively, you can use the Standard to understand what your Climate Active carbon footprint would look like, in preparation for future certification under the Standard.

Should we go carbon neutral under Climate Active now or wait till our net zero target date?

If you have a long-term goal to reach net zero emissions, you can fast track this achievement by going carbon neutral under Climate Active right away.

Then as you reduce your carbon emissions by installing solar, or by being more efficient with your energy use, you will be able to reduce your carbon offset purchases. Done this way, you have set yourself an internal carbon price (equal to the price of your carbon offsets), which you can use to get sustainability projects over the line more easily.

Going carbon neutral right away will also signal to the market that you are not working towards a goal that is far away, but that you are taking immediate steps to address climate change.

What is the difference between NGER and Climate Active?

The National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (NGER) scheme, established by the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act 2007 (NGER Act), is a national framework for reporting your greenhouse gas emissions, energy production and consumption. Reporting under NGER is mandatory for large energy users and carbon emitters, and only applies to scope 1 and scope 2 greenhouse gases (see the graphic below).

Overview of GHG Protocol scopes and emissions across the value chain

Figure 1: Emission sources and scopes – graphic adjusted from the Corporate Value Chain Accounting and Reporting Standard

On the other hand, Climate Active is a voluntary program, and it requires that you report your upstream and downstream scope 3 emissions, as well as scope 1 and scope 2.

There are many more questions to be answered, so stay tuned for part 2 of this blog post series which discusses more details about scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions and what emission sources typically form part of a Climate Active carbon footprint.

If you are going through Climate Active certification for the first time, the whole process can seem a bit confusing. Engaging a registered consultant such as 100% Renewables will ensure a smooth and easy process. Please download our Climate Active brochure to find out more about how we can help you with your Climate Active certification.

100% Renewables’ staff are registered consultants with Climate Active. If you would like to achieve certification, or prepare for certification, please contact Barbara.

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.

 

5 key considerations for Climate Emergency Plans [includes video]

This blog post follows on from the one last week. I recently presented to the Maribyrnong community in Melbourne on emissions trends and barriers to the uptake of renewables, as well as considerations for the development of climate emergency plans. Today’s article discusses five key considerations.

You can also watch me talk about these five key considerations in this 5-min video:

About the Climate Emergency

The problem of rising GHG emissions

Global temperatures are rising and will continue to grow. Without globally significant efforts, greenhouse gas emissions may increase to over 100 billion tonnes annually by 2100, which is double current emissions. Even if all countries met their current pledges under the Paris Agreement, we are on track to exceed 1.5°C of warming (above pre-industrial temperatures), and to then increase by 3-5°C by 2100 — with additional warming beyond.

Projected temperature increase according to Climate Action Tracker

Figure 1: Projected temperature increase according to Climate Action Tracker

Rising global temperature causes catastrophic impacts, such as bushfires, droughts, floods, severe weather events, heat waves, rising sea levels and disruptions to our food supply.

By how much do we need to decrease emissions to have a ‘safe climate’?

According to climate science, a safe climate is one where global temperature increase stays less than 1.5°C above pre-industrial temperatures. We need to decrease our emissions by 45% from 2010 to 2030 and then to net-zero by mid-century to give us a 50/50 chance of meeting this target. This means that we need to almost halve our emissions by 2030.

Emitting greenhouse gases under a ‘current policies’ scenario means that climate risk will be catastrophic. Incremental change is not enough to get climate risk to an acceptable level. The only way this risk can be adequately managed is by rapid action.

Declaring a climate emergency

Declaring a climate emergency recognises that aiming for net-zero by 2050 may be too late. It means that your climate efforts need to

  • start now,
  • increase in scale rapidly and
  • continue for decades.

In 2016, Darebin City Council in Victoria was the first government in the world to declare a climate emergency. Now, as of the 1st of May, 95 Australian local governments have made the same declaration.

Following the declaration of a climate emergency, you need to develop a Climate Emergency Plan that sets out how you will help address the climate emergency.

5 key considerations for developing Climate Emergency Plans

Consideration #1: Net-zero ASAP

If your council declares a climate emergency, you should aim to achieve net-zero emissions for your LGA as soon as possible, for instance by 2030. You may even need to target negative emissions by mid-century by incorporating drawdown measures.

Drawdown is the projected point in time when the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stops increasing and begins to reduce. Drawdown can only be achieved by removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, such as through agriculture and forestry.

Consideration #2: Include adaptation and resilience in your plan

Climate change is not some distant impact in the future. It’s here, and it’s affecting us already. Your climate emergency plan needs to include actions on how your council and community can adapt to climate change, in addition to reducing your carbon emissions.

Adaptation for council operations means that built assets, such as roads, stormwater drains and buildings, may not be able to withstand flooding, fire and intense storms. It means that your zoning and planning decisions will probably need to change and that there may be an increased demand for council services, such as water supply or community support for the elderly. Your area may also experience food supply issues. You will need to have emergency response plans for severe weather events, heat waves, flooding and bushfires and need to risk-assess the impacts on your community and corporate services.

Council also needs to help the community be resilient in the face of climate change. Resilience is the ability to withstand and recover from climate change impacts. As an example, you could help the community grow their own food and to develop resilience plans that assist your residents and businesses in bouncing back after a disaster.

Consideration #3: Include the community

Emissions for the operations of a local government are much smaller than overall community emissions. It is not uncommon for council’s emissions to only constitute 1% of overall emissions in the LGA. It’s not enough to focus on how council itself can mitigate against and adapt to climate change; the plan also needs to incorporate the community.

Climate emergency plan for the community should be developed with the community, by involving them through surveys and workshops, and by forming environmental advisory committees.

Emissions for council operations are small in comparison to community emissions

Figure 2: Emissions for council operations are small in comparison to community emissions

Consideration #4: Everyone must act

While the Federal and State governments have the greatest levers to reduce carbon emissions, local governments are closest to their communities. They play an important role in both mitigation and adaptation.

However, a council cannot alone bear the weight of emissions reduction and adapting to climate change in a community. Householders, business and all levels of government must collaborate to achieve the goals.

Local governments are in a great position to work directly with the community and to help them with addressing climate change rapidly. Council should also lobby other local governments, the state and federal governments to be more ambitious in their climate change action.

Consideration #5: Solutions already exist – they just need to be implemented

It’s easy to defer action by claiming that in future, better solutions will exist. The fact is though, that we already have all the solutions we need to mitigate against climate change. They only need to be implemented and fast.

It’s crucial to extend the scope of a climate emergency plan to a wide area of impact categories. Key solution areas of climate emergency plans are energy efficiency, solar PV, grid decarbonisation, transport, waste, buying clean energy, consumption of goods and services, emerging technologies, governance and leadership, forestry and agriculture, climate risk, clean energy generation, stationary fuel switching, education, and planning & development.

Key solution areas of climate emergency plans

Figure 3: Key solution areas of climate emergency plans

Within those solution areas, the biggest levers to achieve emission reduction in the community are solar panels on as many roofs as possible, energy efficiency in homes and businesses, electrification of space and water heating, electric vehicles, and waste diversion from landfill.

100% Renewables are experts in developing climate action strategies, both for council operations, as well as for the community. If you need help to develop your Climate Change Strategy, 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.

How Randwick Council achieved >40% energy savings at Lionel Bowen Library

100% Renewables has helped many organisations to set ambitious renewable energy and carbon reduction goals and developed the strategies and action plans that will help them get there. While this is one key metric for our business, a greater measure of success is when we see clients implement projects that will take them towards their targets. In this blog post, we showcase measures implemented by Randwick City Council to significantly reduce the energy demand and carbon footprint of the Lionel Bowen Library in Maroubra, Sydney.

Randwick City Council’s climate change targets and plan

Randwick City Council has set a number of ambitious environmental sustainability targets for its operations, including targets for reduced greenhouse gas emissions. In March 2018, Council adopted the following targets:

  • Greenhouse gas emissions from Council’s operations – net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, including but not limited to the following measures:
    • Council’s total energy consumption – 100% replacement by renewable sources (generated on site or off-site for Council’s purposes) by 2030.
    • Council’s vehicle fleet – net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

Energy eficiency is a key strategy for achieving these goals, as set out in the 100% Renewable Energy Roadmap completed in early 2020.

Lionel Bowen Library energy use and solar

The Lionel Bowen Library is one of Council’s largest energy-using facilties, consuming 7.8% of Council’s total electricity demand in 2017/18. This was after the implementation of a 30 kW solar panel array on the roof of the library in 2013, as well as efficiency measures including VSD control of the cooling tower fan and voltage optimisation of the main incoming supply. The solar array generates 40,000 kWh of renewable energy each year, which is fully consumed within the library.

Lionel Bowen Library solar installation, Randwick City Council (photo by Patrick Denvir)
Lionel Bowen Library solar installation, Randwick City Council (photo by Patrick Denvir)

New energy efficiency projects at Lionel Bowen Library

Concurrent with the development of Council’s 100% Renewable Energy Roadmap, Randwick initiated a project to roll out LED lighting at selected sites, including the library. A multi-faceted process included the

  • development of the business case to secure internal support and approval,
  • selection of a preferred supplier,
  • implementation of a trial ‘LED space’ and measurement of light and energy savings as well as visitor perceptions of the upgraded space,
  • influencing key internal stakeholders to support the whole-facility rollout,
  • implementation including claiming the Energy Saving Certificates (ESCs) for the project, and
  • measurement of the energy savings.

During the development of the 100% Renewable Energy Roadmap it was observed that after-hours control of several of the library’s air conditioning systems was not working effectively. In addition, a storeroom fan system in the basement of the building was observed to be running continuously.

Consultation with facilities management staff indicated that faulty BMS controllers meant that time schedules as well as after-hours controls were not correct, and quotes would be sought for new timers to rectify this. Quotes for a new timer for the storeroom fan system were also sought.

In late 2019, the new time control measures were implemented, with significant immediate energy savings identified in load data for the library. The combined impact of the LED lighting and air conditioning system control changes has been to reduce the library’s electricity consumption by nearly 40% when comparing similar periods of 2017/18 with energy consumption in early 2020. This saving is illustrated below in two charts.

  • The first chart shows monthly electricity consumption from June 2018 through to February 2020, with the steep downward trend in monthly electricity use evident.
Monthly electricity consumption - June 2018 to February 2020, Bowen Library
Monthly electricity consumption – June 2018 to February 2020, Lionel Bowen Library
  • The second chart shows daily load profile data and clearly illustrates the impact of the air conditioning timer upgrade on night energy demand between November and December 2019.
Load profile - Nov vs Dec 2019, Bowen Library
Load profile – Nov vs Dec 2019, Lionel Bowen Library

Future savings initiatives at Lionel Bowen Library

There are plans to implement additional measures at the library that will see even more energy savings achieved and more renewable energy. These new measures are set out in Council’s 100% Renewable Energy roadmap and include:

  • Installation of a further 30-45 kW of solar PV on the roof of the library which will be absorbed on site.
  • Progressively upgrade the main and split air conditioning systems in the library (which have reached the end of their economic life) with energy efficient systems. This will have the added benefit of removing R22 refrigerant from the library and seeing a switch to a lower-GWP refrigerant. Opportunities to implement VSD control of fans and pumps, and to optimise supply to unused or infrequently used spaces will also be assessed.
  • Implement new BMS controls for new air conditioning plant as this is upgraded.

The combined impact of these changes over time could be a reduction in grid electricity supply to Lionel Bowen Library of 60% compared with 2017/18 electricity consumption.

Progressing towards its emissions reduction target

The energy saving measures implemented at Lionel Bowen Library are just a few among nearly a hundred actions that, when implemented over the next several years will see Randwick City Council realise its goal to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

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Randwick City Council is one among many leading councils showing that achieving ambitious renewable energy and carbon reduction goals is both feasible and cost effective. 100% Renewables is proud to have played a role in helping this leader through the development of their 100% Renewable Energy Roadmap. We look forward to council’s continued success in reaching their renewable energy targets in coming years.

 

100% Renewables are experts in helping organisations develop their climate change strategies and action plans, and supporting the implementation and achievement of ambitious targets. If you need help to develop your Climate Change Strategy, 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.

Setting targets for community emissions – Part 5



This is part 5 of our blog post series on community emissions. The first four articles investigated the development of a community GHG inventory. This article analyses community targets for greenhouse gas emissions.

What is greenhouse gas emissions community target?

A target for a city or community relates to a desired future GHG emissions result for a local government administration boundary.

Introduction

Humans and communities are at the centre of climate change. Reducing emissions is a shared responsibility of governments, businesses and of cities and communities. Moreover, in the absence of strong national leadership, local governments need to step in and act. Setting targets enables efforts to be directed towards achieving that target, rather than letting emissions grow unchecked.

However, setting an appropriate target can be confusing. What percentage reduction should you choose? What target year shall you select? Should the target revolve around renewables or carbon emissions, or should you instead focus on tangible measures like solar PV installations in your community?

What targets are in line with science? What target will get accepted by the community? What kind of targets are other cities and communities setting themselves? Should the local government drive the target setting or shall efforts be community-driven?

Before we try to answer these questions, let’s have a look at the underlying problem first.

Rising carbon emissions and the Paris Agreement

Due to all historical and current carbon emissions, global temperatures have already increased by ~1°C from pre-industrial levels, with even higher increases being experienced on land. Atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide have risen to above 400 ppm, which exceeds the ‘safe’ level of 350 ppm. Moreover, the IPCC predicts that without additional efforts, there will be further growth in emissions due to increased economic activity and population growth.

The main driver of long-term warming is the total cumulative emissions of greenhouse gases over time. As shown by Climate Action Tracker in Figure 1, without additional efforts, human-caused carbon emissions may increase to over 100 billion tonnes annually by 2100, which is double current global emissions. The resulting increase in global temperatures could be up to 4.8°C (as per the IPCC Climate Change 2014 Synthesis Report).

However, with current climate policies around the world, global temperatures are projected to rise by about 3.2°C.

To prevent dangerous climate change by limiting global warming, close to 200 of the world’s governments signed the landmark Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement forms the basis of science-based targets to limit global temperature increase to well below 2°C by 2050. With current pledges, and if all countries achieved their Paris Agreement targets, it could limit warming to 2.9°C.

The Climate Action Tracker’s warming projections for 2100, various policy scenarios
Figure 1: The Climate Action Tracker’s warming projections for 2100, various policy scenarios

However, to limit warming to well below 2°C, let alone 1.5°C, current Paris pledges made by countries are not enough[1]. Carbon emissions need to decline at a much steeper rate in the near future and reach net-zero by mid-century to have a 50% chance of keeping warming below 1.5°C.

Achieving net-zero by 2038 improves this chance to two thirds, but global emissions would have to fall by up to 70% relative to 2017 levels by 2030. For every year of failed action, the window to net-zero is reduced by two years[2].

So how many greenhouse gases can still be emitted? This concept is encapsulated in the term ‘carbon budget’.

What is a carbon budget?

Just like a financial budget sets a ceiling on how much money can be spent, a carbon budget is a finite amount of carbon that can be emitted into the atmosphere before warming will exceed certain temperature thresholds.

The concept of a carbon budget emerged as a scientific concept from the IPCC’s 2014 Synthesis Report on Climate Change and relates to the cumulative amount of carbon emissions permitted over a period. Given that the carbon budget is not annual, but cumulative, it means that once it is spent, carbon emissions have to be held at net zero to avoid exceeding temperature targets.

Higher emissions in earlier years mean that there can only be lower emissions later on. You can compare this concept to your own budget. If your yearly budget was $120,000, and you spent $30,000 in each of January and February, you would only have $60,000 left to spend between March and December, or $6,000 per month. Conversely, if you are careful with what you buy and only spend $5,000 every month, then your budget will last twice as long (2 years).

The carbon budget for limiting warming to 1.5°C is smaller than the carbon budget for limiting warming to 2°C.

Please have a look at the following two carbon budgets we developed for a local government client. The ‘blue budget’ shows a 2°C pathway, whereas the ‘orange budget’ shows a 1.5°C scenario.

Example of 2°C carbon budget

Example of a 2°C carbon budget
Figure 2: Example of a 2°C carbon budget for a community greenhouse gas emissions target

Example of 1.5°C carbon budget

Example of a 1.5°C carbon budget
Figure 3: Example of a 1.5°C carbon budget for a community greenhouse gas emissions target

The area of the carbon budget is much smaller in the ‘orange’ graphic. And while both carbon budgets trend towards net zero in 2050, there are much steeper reductions earlier on in the 1.5°C scenario.

How can you set a target/carbon budget based on science?

Targets are considered science-based if they are in line with the level of decarbonisation required to keep global average temperature increase well below 2°C compared to pre-industrial temperatures, as described in the Fifth Assessment Report of the IPCC. All science-based target setting methods use an underlying carbon budget.

There is no universally accepted method of how to calculate carbon budgets at the city level and many cities have worked hard at developing a fair carbon budget. As per the C40 Deadline 2020 report, the three principles that dominate the debate on the allocation of carbon budgets are:

  1. Equality, based on an understanding that human beings should have equal rights
  2. Responsibility for contributing to climate change, linked to the ‘polluter pays’ principle
  3. Capacity to contribute to solving the problem (also described as capacity to pay).

Specific considerations include the current global carbon budget[3], adjusting it to an appropriate time frame, adjusting it from carbon dioxide to carbon dioxide equivalents, and then deriving a fair and equitable national budget. Once there is a national budget, it needs to be apportioned fairly to the city by using factors such as population and potentially adjusting it based on the sector representation in the community.

A simpler method to arrive at a carbon budget that is tracking towards net-zero is to follow a science-based target-setting method by adopting a target which is proportional to the overall world’s target using the contraction approach and to scale emissions down linearly. There are two science-based temperature scenarios you can align with, a 2°C and a 1.5°C scenario. The minimum annual linear reduction rates aligned with 1.5°C and 2°C scenarios are 4.2% and 2.5%, respectively.

Example method for calculating your science-based target

The following method, which you can use as an example, shows six steps on how to set a community emissions target based on science.

Step 1: Calculate your GHG inventory

Your carbon inventory should be aligned to GPC. Please read our article on calculating community carbon footprints if you are unsure about this step.

Step 2: Project emissions

Once you have a fully developed carbon inventory, project your emissions into the future to get an idea of where your emissions will be in the absence of any abatement measures

Step 3: Decide on carbon budget allocation method

Choose an approach that is suitable for your circumstances. The simplest method is to contract to net-zero by 2050.

Step 4: Choose a pathway

You need to choose whether you want your emissions trajectory to align with a 1.5°C or a 2°C scenario.

Step 5: Choose a target year

While you are aiming to track towards net zero by mid-century, it will help to establish interim targets, based on your chosen degree scenario.

Step 6: Validate your decisions

Consult your community to get feedback.

Six steps to set a science-based community emissions target
Figure 4: Six steps to set a science-based community emissions target

What kind of targets are there?

There are two main categories of targets, top-down and bottom-up ones.

Top-down targets

With top-down goals, you set the goal first, and then determine actions to get there. Top-down targets can be informed by science (‘science-based targets’) or by a community’s aspirations. Each of these approaches effectively gives the community a carbon budget to stay within for any chosen pathway.

Externally set top-down target – science-based:

An external top-down target is informed by science. Science-based targets are aligned with either a 2°C or 1.5°C pathway and lead to net-zero emissions by 2050.

Internally set top-down target – aspirational:

Aspirational targets express the vision of a community and where it would like to be in future. They often relate to a target year earlier than 2050.

Bottom-up targets

With bottom-up targets, you analyse the carbon footprint first and then develop abatement actions. Carbon reduction actions are modelled to investigate the amount of carbon reduction that can be achieved and the cost to facilitate and fund them. Based on the level of carbon reduction that is feasible, you set a corresponding target.

Top-down and bottom-up targets can work in tandem. For instance, you can decide to set a science-based target, and then translate this target into tangible, staged and evidence-based bottom-up targets. Examples of such tangible targets are the number of solar PV installations on houses, or the rate and amount of electric vehicle take-up in a community.

Who sets a community target?

Targets can come directly from the community, or they can be driven by the local government authority. If they are driven by the local government, it is a good idea to undertake community consultation, present the facts and then get feedback on the proposed target(s).

What does a net-zero target mean?

A net-zero target means that by (and from) the target date, there must be no greenhouse gas emissions on a net basis. Within the geographic boundaries of a city, a ‘net zero city’ is defined as:

  1. Net-zero GHG emissions from stationary energy consumption such as natural gas use (scope 1)
  2. Net-zero GHG emissions from transport activities (scope 1)
  3. Net-zero GHG emissions from electricity consumption (scope 2)
  4. Net-zero GHG emissions from the treatment of waste generated within the city boundary (scopes 1 and 3)
  5. Where a city accounts for additional sectoral emissions in their GHG accounting boundary (e.g. IPPU, AFOLU), net-zero greenhouse gas emissions from all additional sectors in the GHG accounting boundary

Table 1: Definition of a net-zero target for a city

Definition of a net-zero target for a city

Once you have achieved carbon neutrality, it needs to be maintained year after year. For further information, please refer to the C40 paper, ‘Defining Carbon Neutrality For Cities And Managing Residual Emissions’.

Using carbon offsets to reach net-zero

Even after you have reduced your emissions as much as possible, there may be a residual carbon footprint. It may not be technically or economically possible to achieve zero emissions for all inventory sources, in which case you can consider carbon offsets.

As per the C40 paper Defining Carbon Neutrality for Cities, possible approaches for carbon offsets you can consider include:

  1. Developing carbon offset projects outside of the city GHG accounting boundary (including local/regional projects that may or may not generate tradeable carbon credits) and taking responsibility for managing the project for the duration of its lifetime;
  2. Investing in carbon offset projects outside of the city GHG accounting boundary (e.g. provide funding to enable a project to get underway or commit to purchasing a set quantity of future vintages, thereby providing upfront funding for credit registration costs), and
  3. Purchasing carbon offsets from outside of the city GHG accounting boundary (local, national, or globally-sourced projects that generate tradeable carbon credits) from a registered/credible/established carbon credit provider.

As with any carbon offset purchase, your carbon credits should be credible and of high quality. Criteria that your carbon offset projects should achieve are that they are real, additional, permanent, measurable, independently audited and verified, unambiguously owned and transparent.

Using Carbon Dioxide Removal and Negative Emissions Technology to reach net-zero

Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) means that you are removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in addition to what would happen anyway via the natural carbon cycle. Because you are removing carbon emissions, this is also called ‘negative emissions’, or ‘negative emissions technology’ (NET).

You can draw out excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by enhancing natural carbon sinks (trees and soil) or using chemical processes, such as extracting carbon dioxide from the air and storing it somewhere suitable (e.g., underground).

Negative Emission Technology (NET) is at various stages of commercial development and differs in terms of maturity, scalability, costs, risks, and trade-offs. To date, none of these technologies has been adopted at large scale.

As a side note, in IPCC modelling, all pathways that limit global warming to 1.5°C include CDR measures. If we cannot reduce emissions fast enough, global temperatures will overshoot 1.5°C, which means that we need NET to bring global temperatures back down.

A city that plans on utilising NET is Oslo. The single biggest carbon reduction measure in Oslo’s Climate and Energy Strategy is the implementation of carbon capture and storage (CCS) at its Klemetsrud waste incineration facility.

Target setting under the Global Covenant of Mayors and C40

Target setting under the Global Covenant

The Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy (GCoM) is the world’s largest alliance of cities and local governments with a shared long-term vision of promoting and supporting voluntary action to combat climate change and move to a low emission, climate-resilient future. As of October 2019, 26 local governments in Australia have joined the GCoM.

Through the GCoM, cities and local governments are voluntarily committing to fight climate change, mirroring the commitments their national governments have set to ensure the goals of the Paris Agreement are met.

Local governments committed to GCoM pledge to implement policies and undertake measures to:

  • Reduce/limit greenhouse gas emissions
  • Prepare for the impacts of climate change
  • Increase access to sustainable energy
  • Track progress toward these objectives

When you join the Global Covenant of Mayors, you need to submit a greenhouse gas emissions reduction target(s) within two years upon joining. The target boundary needs to be consistent with all emissions sources included in your GHG emissions inventory. The target year needs to be the same (or later than) the target year adopted nationally under the Paris Agreement. The national target is called the ‘Nationally Determined Contribution’ (NDC).

If you set a target beyond 2030, you also need to set an interim target. The target needs to be at least as ambitious as the unconditional components of the NDC. You are only allowed to use carbon offsets if your target’s ambition exceeds the NDC.

Target setting under C40

C40 is a network of the world’s megacities committed to addressing climate change. Cities that commit to being part of C40 need to have a plan to deliver their contribution towards the goal of constraining global temperature rise to no more than 1.5°C. In Australia, Sydney and Melbourne are members.

To remain within a 1.5°C temperature rise, average per capita emissions across C40 cities need to drop from over 5 t CO2-e per capita to around 2.9 t CO2-e per capita by 2030. Every city needs to diverge considerably from its current business-as-usual pathway and cities with a GDP over USD15,000 per capita must begin to reduce their per capita emissions immediately, which results in an immediate and steep decline of emissions.

C40 recommends that the trajectory for emission reduction follows the typology as introduced in Deadline 2020.

  • Steep Decline – Cities with a GDP per capita over $15,000 and emissions above the average for C40. Emissions need to be immediately and rapidly reduced and the city is sufficiently developed to do so.
  • Steady Decline – Cities with a GDP per capita over $15,000 but emissions lower than the average for C40. The city is sufficiently developed to immediately reduce emissions, but a less rapid rate of reduction is required than for the Steep Decline group.
  • Early Peak – Cities with GDP per capita below $15,000 and higher than average emissions per capita. An early emissions peak is required, although the city’s development status means that decline cannot be immediate.
  • Late Peak – Cities with a GDP per capita below $15,000 and lower than average emissions per capita. A slightly later emissions peak is possible.

The following table shows the current and reduced science-aligned and C40 per capita emissions for scopes 1, 2 and 3.

Table 2: Average per capita emissions figures for C40 cities in 1.5- and 2-degree trajectories

Average per capita emissions figures for C40 cities in 1.5- and 2-degree trajectories

Examples of city targets

The following list shows examples of ambitious targets for cities across five continents.

EThekwini Municipality, Africa

The eThekwini municipality includes the city of Durban, South Africa and surrounding towns. It is the first city in Africa to develop a 1.5°C climate action plan with the support of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. The target is to reach a 40% reduction in emissions by 2030 and 80% reduction by 2050.

Hong Kong, Asia

In May 2019, Hong Kong achieved CDP’s top ‘A’ score for its climate strategy, among 7% of cities reporting to the CDP. Hong Kong’s targets are as follows:

  • Reduce carbon intensity by 65% to 70% by 2030 compared with the 2005 level, which is equivalent to an absolute reduction of 26% to 36%
  • Resulting in per capita emission of 3.3 to 3.8 tonnes in 2030
  • Carbon emissions to peak before 2020

The 2030 Climate Plan includes objectives, such as phasing down coal for electricity generation and replacing it with natural gas by 2030, saving energy in the built environment, focusing on rail as a low-carbon public transport backbone and encouraging active transport modes, such as walking.

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT), Australia

The ACT is a federal territory of Australia containing the Australian capital city of Canberra and some surrounding townships. The ACT’s first targets were introduced in 2010, revised in 2016 to increase ambition and again in 2018. The current targets are to reduce emissions (from 1990 levels) by:

  • 40% by 2020
  • 50-60% by 2025
  • 65-75% by 2030
  • 90-95% by 2040
  • 100% (net zero emissions) by 2045.

The ACT also set a target to peak emissions per capita by 2013. This was achieved in 2012-13 at 10.53 tonnes of CO2-e per person and has remained below this level ever since. In 2017-18, emissions were 8.09 t CO2-e per capita. The ACT’s targets were informed by considering the ACT’s share of the global carbon budget.

Oslo, Europe

Oslo has the objective to become a ‘virtually zero-emission city’. The current targets are as follows:

  • Greenhouse gas emissions should not exceed 766,000 tons of CO2-e by 2020 (applicable to all emission sectors except agriculture, aviation and shipping)
  • Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 95% by 2030 (compared to 1990 levels)

The second goal depends on the successful removal of emissions from a major waste incineration plant.

In 2016, Oslo introduced a climate budget, which sets a ceiling on the volume of carbon dioxide that can be emitted in the city in a given year. The climate budget is fully integrated with the financial budget of the city. The climate budgets show measures implemented or planned for Oslo to reach its climate targets and become a low-carbon city.

San Francisco, North America

In its Focus 2030: A Pathway to Net Zero Emissions, San Francisco defines the following targets:

  • Supplying 100% renewable electricity from 2030
  • 68% reduction in emissions below 1990 levels by 2030
  • 90% reduction by 2050

San Francisco identified that emission reduction must come from three primary sectors, being buildings, transportation and waste. The city also defined sub-targets for these sectors.

Transportation:

  • Shift 80% of all trips taken to walking, biking and transit by 2030.
  • Electrify 25% of private cars and trucks by 2030 and 100% by 2040.

Buildings:

  • Electrify space and water heating with high-efficiency products such as heat pumps
  • Increase building energy efficiency
  • Power buildings with 100% renewable electricity

Waste:

  • Reduce generation by 15% by 2030
  • Reduce disposal to landfill or incineration by 50% by 2030

Conclusion

Cities and communities should consider setting themselves targets in line with science. To avoid catastrophic climate change, emissions need to start falling now and reach net zero by 2050. Interim targets will help to stay under an allocated carbon budget.

Both vision and leadership are needed to enable steep cuts to our emissions, which translates into unprecedented, rapid change across the globe to limit global warming. The way electricity is generated needs to change to clean energy. The way we transport people and goods and the way we produce everything needs innovation. Land use planning plays a big part, and different economic models need to be adopted that will makes such a transformational shift possible. In the next part of this series, we will look at community carbon abatement measures in greater detail.

100% Renewables are experts in helping organisations, communities/LGAs and councils determine suitable targets, be they science-based, aspirational or bottom-up/action-based. Our community inventories align with the GPC and targets can be based on IPCC global carbon budgets. If you need help with your community inventory, please contact  Barbara or Patrick.

Footnotes

[1] For instance, Australia’s commitment under the Paris Agreement is 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2030

[2] https://www.c40.org/researches/defining-carbon-neutrality-for-cities-managing-residual-emissions

[3] The Global Carbon Budget website provides annual updates of the global carbon budget and trends.

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Calculating your GPC community inventory – Part 4

In our first blog post in this series, we introduced community emission inventories. In the previous articles, we examined categories and scopes of the Global Protocol for Community-scale Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventories (GPC) and looked at the differences between a BASIC, BASIC+ and a territorial inventory. In this article, we discuss how you can calculate your community’s emissions.

Introduction

Calculating versus measuring carbon emissions

It is possible to measure carbon emissions. Examples are monitoring greenhouse gas emissions from a coal-fired power plant or measuring the emissions from exhaust pipes in vehicles. In most cases, however, you will calculate emissions by applying a so-called ‘emissions factor’.

How are greenhouse gas emissions expressed?

Greenhouse gas emissions are expressed in tonnes of CO2-e (carbon dioxide equivalent).

When reporting under the GPC, you need to record greenhouse gas emissions of every gas, plus the tonnes of CO2-e.

What is CO2-e?

Every greenhouse gas has a different global warming potential (GWP) over 100 years. The GWPs are determined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The most current assessment of GWPs was released in 2013 in IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5).

When reporting your community inventory, you should use the latest IPCC Assessment Report or the version used by your country’s national inventory body.

Australia, as an example, uses the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) when converting different greenhouse gases to CO2-e. Carbon dioxide is assigned a GWP of 1. Methane has a GWP of 25 and nitrous oxide has a GWP of 298. These GWPs are used to convert greenhouse gases into one single measure, CO2-e.

As an example, if 1,000 tonnes of methane emissions are emitted in your community, this would translate to 25,000 tonnes of CO2-e.

Activity data and emission factors

Calculations are based on converting data that you have available into emissions using a ‘conversion’ or an ‘emissions factor’.

GHG emissions = Activity data x emissions factor

Activity data measures a level of activity that leads to greenhouse gas emissions. Examples of activity data are:

  • Electricity consumption
  • Natural gas consumption
  • Litres of fuel used in a car
  • Tonnes of waste sent to landfill
  • Number of sheep

An emissions factor converts your activity data into a mass of greenhouse gas emissions.

Example of calculating emissions associated with electricity consumption

Say your city consumed 1,000 MWh of electricity. The emissions associated with your electricity use differ depending on how this electricity is generated. If mostly fossil fuels like coal are used to produce electricity, then this will produce more emissions compared to renewables.

Let’s take a look at the emissions resulting from the same electricity consumption in three different English-speaking countries by applying the relevant emission factors.

Figure 1: GHG emissions of different countries with the same underlying electricity consumption

The emissions for Australia are higher than for the USA and the UK with the same underlying consumption due to most of the electricity being produced from fossil fuel sources.

Note on emission factors:

The factors for Australia and the USA are averages across all regions for 2019.

Factor sources:

Selecting an appropriate calculation methodology

Selecting a calculation methodology depends on several things:

  • The purpose of your GHG inventory. Considerations here include whether you are reporting internally or to your community, or whether you are participating in programs like the C40, or the Global Covenant of Mayors.
  • Availability of data. Some data may be easily obtainable, whereas, with others, you may need more comprehensive data gathering methods.
  • Consistency with your country’s national inventory reporting programs. You may need to select a specific calculation methodology to fit in with how your country reports its national inventory.

No matter what calculation method you choose, you need to make sure to document the calculation method you have used.

Data collection

A big (and the most time consuming) part in calculating a community’s inventory is data collection.

If you are lucky, you have existing data for your selected inventory boundary and the reporting level you have selected. If not, you will have to generate new data (which involves surveying your community) or adapt existing data.

Examples of data sources

The following shows a list of possible data sources you could use (as described in the GPC):

  • Government departments
  • Statistics agencies
  • Your country’s national GHG inventory report
  • Universities and research institutes
  • Scientific and technical articles in environmental books, journals and reports
  • Sector experts/stakeholder organisations

Identifying emission factors

Your first choice of emission factors should be local, regional, or national factors published by the Government. If these are not available, you can use IPCC default factors or data from the Emission Factor Database, or other standard values from international bodies that reflect national circumstances. Table 2.2 of the 2006 IPCC Guidelines provides a comprehensive guide to identifying potential sources of emission factors.



Quality assessment of activity data and emissions factors

Ideally, you would want the most accurate activity data and emissions factors you can get. However, this will not always be possible, and sometimes, you need to trade-off between accuracy and completeness of your inventory. Generally speaking, you would prefer your data and emissions factors to be:

  • Reliable
  • Peer-reviewed
  • Reputable
  • Robust
  • Recent
  • Specific to your area
  • Publicly available

To be compliant with the GPC, you need to evaluate both the quality of your activity data as well as that of your emission factors. The quality can be low, medium or high as shown in the graphic below.

Figure 2: Assessing the quality of activity data and emissions factors

How to calculate the most common emissions in a GPC inventory

The following section provides more guidance on how you can calculate the most common emission sources in your GPC inventory.

Calculating emissions from stationary energy consumption

Examples of stationary energy consumption are electricity and natural gas use.

Step 1 – Gather activity data

Obtain activity data for each fuel type, ideally disaggregated by sub-sector (e.g. residential buildings, commercial buildings, etc.). Ideally, you would get this data from the network provider or utility. If this is not possible, you can survey your community, or model the energy consumption by determining energy intensities by facility type.

If you cannot disaggregate the data into sub-sectors, you can apportion the total consumption information to each sub-sector or building type. If data is not available for your city, you can use regional or national consumption data scaled down to your population size.

Step 2 – Calculate emissions:

Multiply the fuel/electricity consumption with an appropriate emissions factor.

Calculating emissions from transportation

Emissions from transportation can be difficult to calculate. Transportation consists of the sub-sectors on-road, railways, water transport, aviation and off-road transportation. In this article, we are focusing on on-road transport. Please refer to the GPC for guidance in calculating other transportation-related emissions.

When it comes to on-road transportation, there is a large variation in available data, and the GPC does not prescribe a specific method. Most cities start with a top-down method that uses fuel consumption as a proxy for travel behaviour. It’s fairly easy to calculate emissions this way and does not require a high level of technical capacity, but it makes it difficult to track emission reduction actions.

With more accurate or relevant information available over time, cities tend to change their method to a more detailed, bottom-up approach. Bottom-up methods use detailed activity data, such as vehicle km travelled per mode and vehicle fuel intensity.

Step 1 – Choose calculation method:

The GPC encourages cities to calculate emissions based on four common methods and recommends the induced activity approach.

  1. Fuel sales method (top-down)
  2. Induced activity method (bottom-up) – transportation emissions induced by the city, including trips that begin, end, or are fully contained within the city (usually excluding pass-through trips).
  3. Geographic or territorial method (bottom-up) – emissions from transportation activity within city boundaries
  4. Resident activity method (bottom-up) – emissions from transportation activity undertaken by city residents

Step 2 – Gather activity data:

If you have chosen the fuel sales method, you can obtain data from fuel dispensing facilities or tax receipts. Where this is not possible, data may be available at a regional scale, which can be downscaled based on vehicle ownership data.

If you have chosen a bottom-up method, you need to obtain data from models or surveys.

Step 3 – Calculate emissions:

Multiply the fuel/electricity (electric vehicles) consumption with an appropriate emissions factor.

Calculating emissions from waste

Here, you calculate waste that is not being recycled, and ends up in landfill, biological treatment or incineration. Biological treatment refers to composting and anaerobic digestion of organic waste.

Step 1 – Choose calculation method:

Choose the calculation method

  1. First order of decay (FOD) – emissions are calculated based on actual emissions during the calculation year
  2. Methane commitment (MC) – emissions are calculated based on waste disposed in the calculation year

Step 2 – Gather activity data:

Obtain activity data from waste collection services and weigh-ins at the landfill site. Alternatively, you can multiply the per capita waste generation rate by the population. If you have chosen the FOD method, you will also need to collect historical waste data.

Step 3 – Calculate emissions:

Depending on the method chosen, calculate emissions based on guidance given in the GPC.

Calculating emissions from wastewater

Step 1 – Gather activity data:

Obtain the quantity of wastewater generated in your community, how it is treated (aerobically – in presence of oxygen, or anaerobically – in absence of oxygen), the wastewater’s source and its organic content.

Step 2 – Calculate emissions:

Calculate emissions for methane and nitrous oxide based on guidance given in the GPC.

Conclusion

It is challenging to develop carbon footprints that are in alignment with the GPC. Sometimes, it is easier to get the help of an expert who can guide you through the process. Here at 100% Renewables, we are certified City Climate Planners, proving our experience in community-level GHG emissions inventory accounting.

If you need help with developing community emissions inventories or pathways for emission reduction, 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.