May 6, 2022
“We are at a crossroads. This is the time for action.’’IPCC Chair Dr. Hoesung Lee, April 2022.
To avoid the worst impacts of climate change and preserve a habitable planet for humans and other species, the global temperature needs to be limited to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, the late 1800s, as agreed upon by 192 countries in the Paris Agreement.
We are currently at 1.1°C. And according to the 2022 IPCC report; Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, we have currently passed some tipping points meaning that some of the effects of climate change are already irreversible. To ensure we prevent the worst effects of climate change, there is a global need to reduce our emissions by 45% by 2030 and reach net-zero by 2050.
It is more important than ever that we reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, especially in countries where it is imported. As some emissions are unavoidable, the onus lies on those companies that can be, to become net positive.
What is net positive? How does it differ from net-zero? Which target is right for me and my business to aim for?
In simple terms, net-zero refers to the creation of an equal balance between the amount of greenhouse gas produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere. A company can attain net zero when the amount of greenhouse gas it adds to the atmosphere is equal to (and no more than) the amount avoided or taken away.
To be carbon neutral, the emissions created by the activity need to be balanced by the equivalent amount being removed.
Net positive (also referred to as climate positive or carbon negative) is the next step – it means that the activity goes further than net-zero. To be net positive – when referring to emissions – is the activity or company needs to create an environmental benefit by removing or capturing emissions from the atmosphere, over and above its own emissions.
However, net positive is more than having a positive emission balance: to be truly net positive a company should provide benefits across the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) scale. It should aim to improve the lives of everyone it touches, from employers and customers to suppliers and the community*.
As Peter Drucker said: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”
The initial step on the pathway to achieving net-zero, becoming carbon neutral or to addressing the emissions factor of net positivity is to calculate and quantify your company’s carbon emissions. This will allow you to assess the scope of the process, to acknowledge your current standpoint – your baseline for all future achievements to be marked against – and begin the process of establishing your company as a positive force for good.
After ascertaining a baseline, the next step is to create a pathway, to create SMART – Specific, Meaningful, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound – targets at regular intervals to keep track of progress.
There are several internationally recognised and standardised frameworks, such as the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol, Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), and the more recent sector-specific, Sustainable Hospitality Alliance’s (SHA) Pathway to Net Positive Hospitality for the Planet. Through these frameworks, a company can set itself short-, medium- and long-term targets that follow climate science. This will enable climate goals to be set in line with the Paris Agreement and assist the global push for decarbonisation for the future of our planet.
The SBTi is in the process of formulating sector-specific guides but has not yet finalised a guide for the hospitality industry. Therefore, the creation of the Pathway to Net Positive, launched by the SHA in March 2022, is important for the hospitality industry’s sustainable ambitions.
The Pathway to Net Positive has been designed to support three key actors in the hospitality value chain; the asset/building owner, the operator and the brand, through four stages, from getting started to Net Positivity. The SHA pathway is especially useful as it has been created with insights from Members and Affiliate Members of the SHA and consultation with industry experts including Considerate Group.
Accor was the first international hotel group to commit to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, they worked used the SBTi framework to set a target of 46% reduction in absolute emissions by 2030 to help them get there.
With the launching of the SHA’s Pathway to Net Positive we are expecting the number of hospitality companies setting themselves ambitious and commendable targets to increase. We look forward to seeing what targets your company sets.
The time to act is now.
If creating a Net Zero Carbon strategy or Net Positive pathway is of interest to your company, then Considerate Group can help. We create tailored strategies and pathways, aligned to the major international frameworks mentioned in this blog including the GHG Protocol, the SBTi, and the SHA Pathway to Net Positive. This module, which works at asset- and portfolio-level, includes the calculation of an extensive carbon baseline, targets set in line with the 1.5°C warming pathways (including calculation of stranding points), and a full suite of advisory projects to help clients, meet, or exceed, their targets.
Additionally our sector-specific data management platform, Con-Serve™, is able to help calculate, set targets for, and track carbon emissions associated with operations, including energy, water, waste, travel and many more.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to begin your journey today!
*Polman, P. & Winston, A. (2022). Net Positive.