Carbon Footprinting and Neutrality
Carbon neutrality refers to balancing the release of greenhouse gases (GHGs) with their avoidance or absorption in carbon sinks. Carbon sequestration involves removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it. Achieving net-zero emissions requires counterbalancing worldwide GHG emissions through carbon sequestration.
Carbon sinks are systems that absorb more carbon than they emit. The primary natural carbon sinks are soil, forests, and oceans, which are estimated to remove between 9.5 and 11 Gt of CO2 per year. However, annual global CO2 emissions reached 37.1 Gt in 2017, and no artificial carbon sinks exist that can remove carbon from the atmosphere on the necessary scale to fight global warming.
The carbon stored in natural sinks such as forests is released into the atmosphere through forest fires, changes in land use, or logging. Therefore, reducing carbon emissions is crucial to becoming carbon neutral.
Steps to Achieving Carbon Neutrality
One of the most common expressions in the management world is “what gets measured gets managed.” The same principle applies to managing your carbon footprint. The first step toward managing your carbon footprint is to measure it.
The carbon footprint or GHG inventory is the total amount of GHGs released into the atmosphere due to a particular anthropogenic (human) activity. The GHGs are normalized using the Greenhouse Warming Potential values of the GHGs.
The Greenhouse Gas Protocol by WBCSD and WRI
Standards Available for GHG Inventory Analysis
ISO 14064-1, 2, 3: 2019
To help differentiate direct and indirect emission sources, improve transparency, and provide utility for different types of organizations and different types of climate policies and business goals, three scopes are defined:
Steps to GHG Inventory Analysis
To ensure that your business is operating in a sustainable manner and reducing its impact on the environment, it’s important to conduct a greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory analysis. This process involves the following steps:
Define business goals and inventory design: The first step in conducting a GHG inventory analysis is to define your business goals and determine the scope of the inventory. This includes defining the boundaries of the inventory, such as which activities and emissions sources will be included.
Set organizational boundary
The organizational boundary defines which parts of the organization will be included in the GHG inventory analysis, such as facilities, supply chains, and operations.
Set operational boundary
The operational boundary defines the activities that will be included in the GHG inventory analysis, such as energy use, transportation, waste management, and water consumption.
Track emissions over time
It’s important to track GHG emissions over time in order to understand trends and make improvements. This involves collecting data on emissions sources, such as energy bills and fuel use.
Identify and calculate GHG emissions
Once emissions sources have been identified, it’s necessary to calculate the GHG emissions associated with each activity or source. This involves using conversion factors to convert activity data into GHG emissions.
Manage inventory quality
It’s important to ensure that the inventory data is accurate and reliable. This involves conducting quality assurance and quality control activities to identify errors and ensure data consistency.
Account for GHG reductions
In order to achieve GHG reduction targets, it’s necessary to account for GHG reductions from activities such as energy efficiency improvements, renewable energy use, and waste reduction.
Report GHG emissions
Reporting GHG emissions involves communicating the inventory results to stakeholders, such as investors, customers, and employees. This can be done through various channels, such as sustainability reports and public disclosures.
Verify GHG emissions & Setting Targets
Finally, ensuring the accuracy of GHG emissions data, it’s necessary to conduct third-party verification of the inventory and setting GHG reduction targets can help to focus efforts and ensure that progress is being made in reducing emissions over time.