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A guide to carbon planning and business sustainability in 2024

03 November 2023
10-minute read

Let NQA Sustainability Assurance Manager Amber Dixon guide you through the 6 steps to achieve a successful carbon strategy – and where ISO 14064-1 and PAS 2060 come in.

*Note: This blog uses URL links from NQA UK's Sustainability Hub throughout. If your business is based elsewhere in the world, please get in touch with NQA in your country to learn more about sustainability.*

The influence of climate change on business planning

The world is becoming more aware of climate change every day. We see it in the news, on social media – and even with businesses taking action to reduce their carbon impact.

For many businesses, planning ahead to address the carbon involved in their day-to-day has shifted from best practice to a necessity. No matter the industry or supply chain, organisations globally are under increasing pressure to develop a carbon strategy – and ultimately contribute to a more sustainable future.

A carbon strategy can include various elements, such as:

  • Reporting on greenhouse gas emissions

  • Reducing the impacts of business activity

  • Formally committing to net zero targets

Not sure where to start with a business carbon strategy? Keep reading to discover our 6 steps.

6 steps to a successful carbon strategy

Follow our 6 steps to create an effective carbon strategy that works for your business and the planet.

Carbon strategy step #1: Understanding and awareness

It can be tricky navigating the various frameworks, schemes and verifications for your sustainability ambitions.

Which option is best for your business? What happens if your long-term goals alter? Who should be responsible for driving the efforts?

NQA recommends taking time to learn about each framework, scheme and verification. From there, you can decide which option aligns with your business – with plenty of resources on the NQA website to help along the way.

Carbon strategy step #2: Leadership commitment

One of the top tips for a successful carbon strategy is buy-in from top management.

Their commitment plays a vital role in ensuring accountability and conformance. From allocating resources and budget to meeting scheme requirements, top management involvement is a must.

Carbon strategy step #3: Initial assessment

To fully understand your organisation’s current carbon position, you must have the necessary data visible.
Gathering this data involves an initial assessment, which:

  • Uses accurate information to help you make informed decisions;

  • Highlights the potential for additional cost-savings in your business.

Carbon strategy step #4: Specific targets

When it comes to sustainability in business, accountability is key.

NQA suggests defining clear, measurable and timebound carbon reduction targets that align nicely with your organisation’s wider objectives (and are more likely to fuel employee motivation).

Carbon strategy step #5: Stakeholder engagement

Don’t forget to involve stakeholders when creating a carbon strategy.

Speaking to those with a vested interest in your business can bring valuable insight and support. Not only that, but stakeholders can also drive down your scope 3 emissions*.

*Scope 3 emissions are those not produced by your organisation but which you are indirectly responsible for. Letting your stakeholders know about your sustainability ambitions may inspire them to follow suit and boost their own carbon performance.

Carbon strategy step #6: Verification

So, your carbon strategy is now in place and working. Why not verify your organisation against a globally recognised standard like ISO 14064-1 (Greenhouse Gas Inventory) or PAS 2060 (Carbon Neutrality)?

NQA’s independent sustainability verification services can give your organisation:

  • Added credibility, with data to back up your claims

  • Confidence to make impactful decisions and changes

  • A system to monitor, measure and continually improve

Now you know how to implement a carbon strategy, let’s move on to the two main verifications.

About ISO 14064-1 (Greenhouse Gas Inventory)

As the name suggests, ISO 14064-1 (Greenhouse Gas Inventory) is an international standard for all things greenhouse gas emissions.

The ISO 14064-1 framework gives organisations a solid foundation to measure, reduce and report their carbon footprint accurately.

Below are NQA’s top tips for planning and implementing ISO 14064-1:

ISO 14064-1 step #1: Source identification

Start by identifying the sources of greenhouse gas emissions within your organisation. Office lighting and printers, daily commutes, paper waste… delve into every potential source.

Also, remember to take scopes 1, 2 and 3 into account:

  • Scope 1 = Direct emissions from sources owned or controlled by a company.

    • Example: Fuel emissions from NQA assessors driving to client audits.

  • Scope 2 = Indirect emissions produced by sources a company has bought and used.

    • Example: Emissions from the radiators and lights at NQA’s headquarters.

  • Scope 3 = Indirect emissions not from assets owned or controlled by a company, but within their value chain.

    • Example: Emissions from the manufacturer and supplier of NQA’s IT equipment.

ISO 14064-1 step #2: Data gathering

The next step is to retrieve accurate data relating to your greenhouse gas emissions. 

Keeping everything streamlined is essential, which is why NQA always recommends mapping out processes and using relevant tools.

ISO 14064-1 step #3: Greenhouse gas inventory

Use ISO 14064-1 guidelines and tools (such as the UK Government Conversion Factors) to calculate the carbon emissions from each source.

These calculations then form your greenhouse gas inventory.

ISO 14064-1 step #4: Mitigation activities

The ISO 16064-1 standard goes beyond identifying greenhouse gas emissions within your organisation.

Your organisation must also plan and take action to reduce emissions tomorrow and beyond. How? Through initiative, projects and targets (see ISO 14064-1 clause 7 for specific details).

ISO 14064-1 step #5: Verification

Follow ISO 16064-1 guidelines to create a robust and in-depth greenhouse gas emissions report.

Once you have done this, your organisation is ready for the next stage: undergoing an ISO 14064-1 assessment with NQA to achieve third-party verification.

ISO 14064-1 is your go-to standard for identifying and reducing workplace emissions.

About PAS 2060 (Carbon Neutrality)

PAS 2060 (Carbon Neutrality) is another globally recognised standard for carbon neutrality, with a detailed framework for:

  • Calculating

  • Reducing

  • Offsetting

  • Documenting

…an organisation’s carbon-neutral position.

Keep reading to find out how your business can start planning for PAS 2060 verification.

PAS 2060 step #1: Baseline assessment

Determine your organisation’s greenhouse gas emissions for the baseline period.

This gives an accurate picture of what emissions your organisation produces so you can start strategising an action plan.

PAS 2060 step #2: Carbon reduction plan

Create a strategy to reduce carbon emissions within your business. Remember that there is no single strategy to follow, as every business and industry is different.

Looking for inspiration? Switching to renewable energy in the office, promoting sustainable incentives (such as cycling to work) and working alongside supply chain partners are just some ideas.

PAS 2060 step #3: Residual emission offsetting

Research and decide on recognised carbon offsetting projects that meet PAS 2060 scheme requirements (within Annex C).

For example, this can include reforestation projects and renewable energy investments.

PAS 2060 step #4: Verification

The best way to prove your organisation’s carbon neutrality claims is through verification. At NQA, we verify PAS 2060 frameworks implemented by clients of all sizes and industries.

With PAS 2060 verification comes confidence and recognition – well deserved after all your efforts!

Global standards like PAS 2060 align with our motto here at NQA: to never stop improving.

Final thoughts from NQA

Take steps now to ensure 2024 is a year of sustainable change – one that not only reduces your carbon footprint but also contributes to a more sustainable and responsible future.

Once your carbon strategy is in place, turn to NQA as your third-party partner for ISO 14064-1 (Greenhouse Gas Inventory) and PAS 2060 (Carbon Neutrality) verification.

Learn more about NQA’s drive for a greener future by visiting our UK Sustainability Hub.

Want to discuss your options before committing to a standard? Speak to a friendly expert.