The new corporate net zero standard from the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi) emphasises that net zero is only credible when accompanied by a clear target and a strategic reduction plan. To make meaningful change in line with best practice, you must first know what you're trying to change. You need to look at where you are now in order to determine, realistically, where you want to end up. In the words of CDP: "You can't manage what you don't measure."
Footprinting is the way to measure and report on your business's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions so that you can work towards reducing your emissions to net zero. Not only is footprinting the first step towards becoming a net zero company, it can also bring benefits in the form of cost-savings.
Consider this post your how-to guide to footprinting and to setting up your business for successful and strategic climate action towards net zero emissions.
1. Determine your business priorities
At South Pole, we first guide you through a materiality matrix, which identifies and prioritises the most critical sustainability issues for your business and your stakeholders. By weighing up both internal and external pressures, our assessment unveils the factors that are the most material to your business and therefore, the more important to drive forwards first. These vary by company, sector, geography, supply chain, stakeholder mix and so on.
2. Understand the different scopes of your footprint
Your footprint represents your business' climate impact. When calculated properly, it captures the annual GHG emissions from your whole value chain. According to the GHG Protocol, which is one of the most widely used standards for GHG accounting, a business' emissions are divided into three different scopes.'
Scope 1: On-site emissions that result from sources directly owned or operated by you. For example, do you have a fleet of vehicles? Do they burn fossil fuels? Maybe you have buildings with boilers.
Scope 2: Emissions relating to energy you purchase to directly operate your enterprise. The most common example is your electricity consumption.
Scope 3: Indirect emissions in supply chains, contracted services, and product use that are not owned by your business but are associated with its operations. For example: business travel, waste management, commuting and third-party distribution.