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How can ISO 14001 and ISO 50001 help you Prepare for PAS 2060?

24 January 2022
In the wake of COP 26 and other global events, a growing number of organizations are now making firm commitments to achieve Net Zero Carbon or Carbon Neutrality in a bid to help the UK reach its legally binding target to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 and ultimately help fight the global climate crisis.

As with many aspirations and commitments, often the hardest part is knowing how and where to start, but thankfully there are standards out there that provide a framework through which to manage and even evidence this journey.

PAS 2060 is an internationally recognised specification for carbon neutrality and sets out requirements for quantification, reduction and offsetting of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for organisations, products, services and events.

I can already hear the audible sighs from people... - "not another standard, we’ve got ISO 14001 managing our environmental impacts and also extended the system to include ISO 50001 to give energy usage a higher profile - aren’t they sufficient?".

In this blog, I aim to show how having one or both of the above standards will not only give firm foundation for the journey to carbon neutrality but will, between them, give you much of what is required to not only begin the journey but to give you a massive head start.

I’m not going to talk in detail about PAS 2060 itself – there’s plenty of content on the newly launched NQA Sustainability Hub that should give you all you need. Instead, I’m going to look at some of the ways that ISO 14001 and ISO 50001 can be utilised on your journey to a PAS 2060 centred carbon neutral future.

  • Continual improvement - ISO 14001 and ISO 50001 in their current form both have an expected outcome detailed within the standards themselves. That is the continual improvement in the areas covered by the management systems themselves. The journey towards carbon neutrality is one of continual improvement and as such the concept and systems should be in place to set targets, create programmes and measure progress as required by PAS 2060.

  • Data - in order to establish your current carbon footprint, there needs to be not only the collection of a significant amount of data - both current and to some degree historic -  this will be in place within the two standards. Both require data collection with the added bonus that ISO 50001 also requires the setting of a baseline against which improvement is judged.

  • Context - this is another area where the existing standards give a foothold into the requirements for evaluating our carbon footprint. When we start to look at Scope 3 emissions in particular (defined as - all indirect emissions that occur in the value chain of the reporting company, including both upstream and downstream emissions) the work that ISO 14001 or ISO 50001 requires us to do on context will ensure that we are looking in the right area for those indirect emissions. There is an added bonus hiding away in ISO 14001 that requires a certified organisation to consider its value chain upstream and well as possible impacts downstream. This is of course restricted to those areas that an organisation can control or influence.

  • Infrastructure and resources - ISO 14001 and ISO 50001 require formal structures in place to manage the relevant issues and ultimately ensure continual improvement. These structures combined with the leadership requirements alongside provision of resources means that the managerial structures to handle such a project as carbon neutrality already exist.

  • Monitoring and measurement - the crux of PAS 2060 is knowing what your baseline carbon emissions are through a planned, systematic assessment of the organisation and its activities. ISO 14001 and ISO 50001 both already have in their armoury the methods, tools and techniques to be able to map these out and ensure the correct degree of accuracy as well as taking the results and analysing trends and opportunities for improvement.

The PAS 2060 framework provides a more systematic way to reduce emissions and measure success building on the way in which ISO 14001 and ISO 5001 manage environment and energy issues. It can serve as the foundation for long-term environmental strategies many of which will already be in place whilst setting reported milestones for every year.