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Carbon Neutral and Net Zero – How to Get Started – Q&A

19 January 2022

On 14th January 2022 our trusted APP partner Jim Smith from ACJ Risk Solutions hosted a webinar discussing matters around sustainability and how organisations can begin their journey towards becoming carbon neutral or achieving Net Zero. Here you'll find the answers to the questions asked throughout the session.

Q1: We are a Group of companies around the world, with a UK HQ. We have UK operating companies and over 10 overseas companies, all 100% owned. For reporting purposes, do we focus on UK only or all countries/operations?

A: This depends on the purpose of the report. For example, guidance related to the Streamlined Environmental and Carbon Reporting (SECR), requires quoted companies to report on their annual GHG emissions from activities for which the company is responsible including combustion of fuel and operation of any facility; and the annual emissions from the purchase of electricity, heat, steam or cooling by the company for its own use. However, large unquoted companies and LLP’s (Limited Liability Partnerships) are required to report on their UK energy use (as a minimum gas, electricity and transport, including UK offshore area).

Q2: If we already have ESOS phase 2 compliance, is it reasonable to assume that we are already some way towards being Carbon Neutral?

A: Key elements of ESOS phase 2 include the calculation of energy usage over a continuous 12-month period and the drafting of a set of practical energy saving projects. Both of these would be useful in the preparation for certification of an organisation as being ‘Carbon Neutral’.

Q3: Please can you let me know more about using a central thermostat for warehousing. Is there a website or document you can share so I can look into this please?

A: I can’t recommend one particular supplier of industrial thermostatically controlled heating systems for warehouses however you may find it useful to look at the Carbon Trust. They have a range of resources available for organisations to help them manage their energy usage.

Q4: Surely scope 3 emissions are going to be a nightmare to get.....what are your thoughts on how to make this easier?

A: The Corporate Value Chain (Scope 3) Accounting and Reporting Standard allows companies to assess their entire value chain emissions impact and identify where to focus reduction activities.

Q5: Whilst Net Zero is entirely credible do you ever foresee a standard that demands a requirement for Absolute Zero?

A: I believe there will be growing demand for an international standard for Net Zero certification. I expect the main focus for the next several years to be on the journey towards Net Zero with side discussions around the possibility of moving to Absolute Zero.

Q6: Is a company allowed to claim carbon neutral without a net zero plan yet?

A: Carbon Neutral and Net Zero have different definitions. Organisations can become certified as Carbon Neutral by considering Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions only. However, Net Zero requires the consideration of Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions.

Q7: Are there any good external resources on Carbon Reduction / Net Zero available?

A: I would recommend the Greenhouse Gas Protocol and the Carbon Trust publication ‘The journey to net zero for SMEs'.

Q8: It is complex to work out our client's energy use and ours individually. For simplicity and for ongoing consistency is there any issues with encompassing all of the energy use within our scope?

A: Development of an energy usage baseline is one of the early steps to drafting a carbon reduction plan and implementing it. I would recommend providing as much detail as possible in the energy usage baseline. This will help to identify practical energy saving and carbon reduction opportunities.

Q9: Scope 3 emissions - what moves are in place to dig down into this rather than calculating on ££ spent - a very blunt instrument

A: The Corporate Value Chain (Scope 3) Accounting and Reporting Standard describes how companies can assess their entire value chain emissions impact and identify where to focus reduction activities.

Q10: Where can we find the "Government Conversion Factors"?

A: Government conversion factors for company reporting of greenhouse gas emissions can be found here.

Q11: How do you measure the carbon footprint of outreach and/or homeworkers?

A: I would propose that a starting point would be to understand the energy usage of these employees (this would likely include electricity required to run office equipment and or heating/lighting, fuel usage required for company business or for commuting…….. etc) and then develop a baseline energy usage for these groups of employees.

Q12: What about ISO 14064

A: ISO 14064 is comprised of three standards, respectively detailing specifications and guidance for the organizational and project levels, and for validation and verification:

ISO 14064-1 Part 1: Specification with guidance at the organizational level- for Quantification and Reporting of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Removals, provides principles and requirements for quantifying and reporting an organization’s carbon footprint.

ISO 14064-2 Part 2: Specification with Guidance at the Project Level- for Quantification, Monitoring and Reporting of Greenhouse Gas Emission Reductions or Removal Enhancements, provides principles and requirements for quantification, monitoring and reporting activities that create GHG reductions or removals.

ISO 14064-3 Part 3: Specification with Guidance for the Validation and Verification of Greenhouse Gas Assertions- provides principles, requirements, and guidance for individuals conducting or managing verification or validation of organizational carbon inventory reports or project-level assertions.

Q13: Some say it takes more energy to on-off on-off lights .. is this true .... even with LEDs?

A: I haven’t seen any science-based studies on this topic, but it is normally good practice to only use energy when it is actually needed.

Q14: NHS Trusts are referred to as "arms-length-bodies".  Does PPN06/21 cover NHS Trusts?

A: This PPN applies to all Central Government Departments, their Executive Agencies and Non- Departmental Public Bodies. PPN06/21 does not note any exclusions specifically for NHS Trusts. Procurement Policy Note 06/21: Taking account of Carbon Reduction Plans in the procurement of major government contracts - GOV.UK.

Q15: Is there a simple tool to calculate net carbon?

A: The UK Government has published The MacKay Carbon Calculator which provides a model of the UK energy system that allows you to explore pathways to decarbonisation, including net zero by 2050.

Q16: How does CN and NZ fit into Sustainability or is it the other way round!

A: Carbon Neutral and Net Zero are defined terms. Sustainability has a broader meaning and in 1987, the United Nations Brundtland Commission defined Sustainability as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Book your place on our new 'PAS 2060 - Understanding and Achieving Carbon Neutrality' training course for more in depth information and practical applications.


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