As part of the UNFCCC's Race to Zero, South Pole today announced its commitment to achieve net zero carbon emissions across scopes 1-3 by 2030. This target includes all of South Pole's operational emissions while excluding financial assets like cash and carbon credits*. This commitment is in addition to South Pole's 1.5°C science-based target to reduce scope 1 and 2 emissions 50% by 2030, as validated by the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) earlier this year and to be updated by no later than 2023 with the upcoming publication of SBTi's new corporate net zero standard.
This commitment is also in addition to South Pole's Climate Neutral Now pledge, and we have remained carbon neutral since 2016.
"We help our clients set and achieve ambitious net zero goals, so it wouldn't be right if we didn't walk the talk and set an ambitious target of our own" said Renat Heuberger, CEO of South Pole. "We deliver real and scaled up climate action every single day, but obviously we have our own emissions as well, like those from air travel when we need to visit a site to ensure our carbon projects deliver verified, permanent, and additional emission reductions for our clients."
South Pole guides hundreds of clients on their climate journey every year, and this shows we're with them every step of the way. To put this commitment into action, we are simultaneously working on a detailed decarbonisation plan that will be communicated in 2022. This will include interim targets to drive absolute emissions down as much and as quickly as possible, in line with new science from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which confirms that emission reductions must start immediately.
The net zero strategy progress will be reported annually via our United Nations Global Compact report. Initiatives we have taken since our commitment, and will be developed further in the plan, include:
"Commiting to a net zero target without immediate action is simply not enough, not for us or for anybody else. Tangible actions need to be taken, and with these and other initiatives we are going even further on our climate journey, especially with actions like sustainable pensions, which can go a long way to drive systemic change" said Denis Jorisch, Practice Lead for Corporate Climate Targets at South Pole.
South Pole anticipates that even under its forthcoming net zero strategy, there will still be some residual carbon emissions left over in the year 2030 as also suggested by science. " It's absolutely essential to set strong reduction targets and to do everything you can to meet them, but at the end of the day there is always a small amount of emissions that are hard to avoid. To tackle these residual emissions, we'll continue to draw on our internal experts and emerging best practices. Then, but only after we've reduced absolute emissions as much as possible, we'll use the same high quality, ICROA-approved emission removals we recommend to clients to compensate for these emissions" said Jorisch.
The world faces a climate emergency and communities around the world are already experiencing climate-related disasters. "But South Pole believes the worst consequences can still be avoided if firms around the world drive sustainable change together" said Heuberger, "so we urgently call upon businesses everywhere to join the net zero revolution and help keep global temperatures between 1.5-2°C."
*Including South Pole's inventory of carbon credits and their associated emission reductions would make South Pole a net negative emitter; these have been left out of South Pole's net zero target to practice stronger sustainability and avoid potential double counting elsewhere.
South Pole's membership in the UNFCCC Race to Zero complements commitments through other initiatives that help to accelerate global climate action.
To find out more about carbon offsetting, see South Pole's carbon offsetting FAQs.