There is one thing that we have learnt over the last 18 months of the pandemic - the importance of real time data to inform decision making.
In developing effective vaccinations in record breaking timescales then there has been a clear goal and awesome teamwork. The recent G7 communique included a call for a technology driven transition to net zero.
We believe that these are important transferrable lessons that we need to adopt in tackling climate change and preserving our plant for future generations. There are many elements in the journey to net zero but there is an increasing desire to act today to deliver results for tomorrow.
When setting your net zero goals, managing the data, and communicating your progress on the journey there are several things that we have learnt and include in our approach to deliver our solutions. In 2021 we launched Smart Green Drivers to specifically help organisations in the management of their Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions, automate reporting, deliver eco driving benefits of circa 10% - 15%, and the ability to go carbon neutral on the way.
Based on our experience we have shared below some insights and trends that organisations are following in managing their journey to net zero:
What is Net Zero & Goals?
Net zero means many things to many people and most commonly is confused with zero emissions. The definition is “to have a small carbon budget by mid-century that limits the global warming to less than 1.5O C” Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In addition, the IPPC said that to achieve this goal global emissions had to fall by 50% by 2030.
A lot of net zero goals have been set by organisations, many of them are ambitious but sadly less that 10% of these are backed by interim targets. One of the important lessons that we have learnt is that it is vital to set interim targets and monitor progress against these. These goals and targets need to be communicated across the organisation so that all stakeholders are aware of the practical plan to reduce emissions, and what you are doing to limit the global increase to less than 1.5OC.
Having one “net zero” goal is a great start, but as there are many elements to climate change. We find that those organisations that use a framework have the opportunity, to communicate the goals and targets in a clearer manner. It is also easier to link these directly to the organisation’s strategy. Many organisations are following the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – there are 17 SDGs of which 7 relate to transport emissions. There is also a trend to adopt science-based targets and goals and to do this you require data.
Data & Scope 1, 2 & 3 Emissions Challenges
As organisations start developing goals and targets, they discover challenges associated with collecting data and in many cases the poor quality of the data they have spread across different sources. We are seeing that the current approach to “reporting data” to DEFRA/Govt and other organisations on an annual basis has limitations.
Another challenge that organisations face is understanding how to collect and classify emissions. Aside from the task of presenting the data in KWH, KG, Tonnes they also need to identify the type of Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG’s) e.g., CO2e, CO2, CH4, NOx.. The good news is that the DEFRA and Government approach to Streamlined Energy Carbon Reporting (SECR) provides a structure for calculating GHG’s and compliance with reporting.
We find that there is often a requirement to help organisations understand how to classify their emissions as defined by the GHG protocol. Pretty much everyone is aware that they need to quantify their direct emissions (Scope 1) and some of their indirect emissions (Scope 2). In relation to transport emissions then it is well understood that capturing fleet data is a requirement under Scope 1. What is less well known is that the “grey fleet” (i.e., personal vehicles paid for by the organisation) are included. Whilst the indirect emissions from heating and lighting buildings is included in Scope 2, what is often overlooked is that EV and the EV element of Hybrid vehicles is covered by Scope 2.
The area of emissions that many organisations have not looked at, is the Scope 3 indirect emissions that come from other sources including supply chain and things like staff travel to work. There have been estimates that these emissions are 10x the internal emissions. There is a great opportunity to use data analysis to make recommendations about public transport, shared mobility, cycling and walking and reduce overall trips and emissions.
The adage “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it” is true about emissions, trips, and the journey to net zero.
As organisations develop their net zero plans, then they understand that there are many elements in the decision-making process and the concept of circularity is important. Focusing on the operational side of things and promoting resource efficiency is an important part of the picture, but it is not the whole one. We need to consider manufacturing, infrastructure, recycling, and waste.
EV’s are a great example where there is no doubt that the operational elements and the infrastructure (provided the electricity is green) make a positive impact on the journey to net zero. Unfortunately, the battery (size/weight and precious metals) means that the manufacturing carbon footprint of an EV are more than a normal combustion vehicle. Recent research on tyre particles has shown that they many be as bad for air quality as NOx.
What this means is that it takes time before the full impact of decisions have a positive effect, there are few silver bullets on the journey to reduce transport emissions aside from “less trips” which is one of the biggest lessons from the pandemic.
There are a range of solutions to collect emissions data and provide individual and group feedback, the one thing that we have learnt is that if you have the data provide it in “real time” if you can – you have a chance to influence behaviour and choice. We advise clients to treat CO2 feedback as you would handle expenses i.e., complete them after each trip or at the end of the week. Expenses are a business cost so are emissions.
For many organisations they have many people who drive at work and presenting them with feedback and options help with the overall engagement on the journey to net zero. Our latest R&D will provide feedback to drivers exactly where they had the biggest impact on their trip and helps drivers act today to impact tomorrow.
Carbon Neutral Option
An interesting trend that we are seeing is individuals and organisations deciding that they want to do more on the journey to net zero. What they are doing is choosing to go carbon neutral - offsetting some or all their carbon emissions during a chosen period.
The important part of this process is having the right data in the first place to set a benchmark not only to measure progress towards net zero but also to work out what is reasonable to offset. The carbon offset certificates that we can provide a UN Gold standard and are normally expressed in equivalent Tonnes offset whether these are Economic, Environmental or Social projects.
To put in place a full carbon strategy plan is not something that organisations do lightly as there is a real cost to the certificates, but they provide a tangible way to provide positive employee feedback and engagement by offsetting on the journey to net zero and beyond.
There are no right or wrong answers on the journey to net zero but there is a requirement for action today to protect the planet tomorrow, and the YPO Net Zero Week is an inspiring way to promote discussion about this important topic.
If you would like to learn more about how the Smart Green Drivers proposition and how our approach can help your organisation on the journey to net zero, further information can be found via the YPO DPS 750 Framework which is managed by the YPO Fleet Team. Or contact us directly at [email protected].