Insights / Sustainability standards that help to net zero

Which sustainability standards will help you on the road to net zero?

9th March 2022

Businesses are trying to make real, lasting change, and committing to net zero carbon emissions is a key part of this. Compliance standards offer frameworks for organisations looking to reduce their emissions.

Transparency and accountability are an essential part of the journey to net zero. Following compliance standards can open the doors to new customers and give assurance to suppliers. You can monitor and measure your progress against your targets and communicate it effectively. This will help you stay on track and send a strong message to your customers and partners that you’re serious about playing your part in the fight against climate change.

So, what are the most useful standards, frameworks, and compliance systems an organisation should consider on their road to net zero?

Which sustainability standards will help you on the road to net zero? - Hero Image

Guidance for businesses looking to make a climate pledge

Many businesses want to make a pledge to reach net zero but need some guidance on what to include.

With so many businesses interested in reducing their emissions, we’ve pulled together some widely recognised sustainability frameworks you can use to determine your priority areas and start reducing your emissions.

UN Sustainable Development Goals

The UN has formally identified 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These range from responsible consumption and manufacturing patterns, to ensuring affordable and sustainable energy to all.

Though not accredited, the goals provide a comprehensive outline of how businesses can structure their sustainability plans and pledges, and communicate these in a way that is widely understood. For example, energy suppliers should be aligned with goal 7, ‘Affordable and clean energy’. Proactive energy partners, like Drax, will also publicly align themselves with goal 13, ‘Climate action’.

A body set up in 2015 by the Financial Stability Board to build consistent climate-related financial risk disclosures for companies, investors and banks for their stakeholders. The TCFD recommendations provide a framework for companies to report consistent climate-related financial risk disclosures. This voluntary disclosure can complement other reporting obligations and can help markets to identify and reward solutions to climate change.

Race to Zero

The UN’s Race to Zero campaign encourages organisations to commit to net zero by no later than 2050. It’s useful for businesses making climate pledges, but organisations can also encourage suppliers and customers to sign up. The campaign encourages signatories to plan and report on their progress.

There are several ways to join the initiative, like signing the Climate Pledge. This calls on businesses to reach zero emissions by 2040—10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement. Signing up demonstrates a business’ intent, but they’ll still need to put those words into action.

To help businesses report on their carbon output

Once you’ve crafted and communicated your net zero pledge, there are standards that enable you to prove your progress by reporting on carbon output. These include:

Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol

The GHG Protocol provides standards, guidance, tools, and training for businesses to measure and manage their emissions. The standards are the world’s most widely used carbon reporting tool, used by more than 90% of FT500 companies.

It covers a variety of factors, from corporations and their value chains to entire cities or individual products.

ISO 14061-1

The ISO 14061-1 standard outlines principles and requirements for businesses to report how much CO2 they emit or remove from the atmosphere. The standard covers everything from the design and development of removals to the management and reporting of your greenhouse gas emissions. Like the more well-known ISO 14001 and ISO 50001 protocols, which focus more generally on sustainability, ISO 14061-1 status can only be certified by an external body.

Download our Carbon Reporting Guide

We’ve created a Guide to Carbon Reporting that simplifies what can be a complicated and complex process. Our practical step-by-step guide will help you to meet SECR guidelines and execute your company’s reporting with confidence.

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