How to track your net zero journey?

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Your company has now implemented the carbon reduction measures and is well underway on the pathway to net zero. Now it is important to track the progress, impact, and any inefficiencies of the implemented measures. Effective tracking not only ensures that a company is on the right path to achieving its net zero Targets but also builds trust with stakeholders by demonstrating commitment and progress.

Tracking is focussed on two main areas:

Emissions Reduction Measures

  • The performance of the measures.
  • The impact of these measures on your carbon footprint
  • The impact on the projected Net Zero pathway

Carbon Credits

  • Tracking the success of invested Carbon Projects
  • Tracking the impact of the carbon credits on your Net Zero Pathway
  • Market research and carbon credits strategy updates

1. How to track emissions reduction measures

It is vital that the performance of reduction measures that were implemented, such as adding solar energy to your energy usage, are monitored. If some of the measures implemented are underperforming, the relevant suppliers can be notified, or other measures could be identified and implemented early on.

Proficient monitoring or tracking of the reduction measures forms the basis of the entire net zero Journey tracking process.

The following are some of the best practices in measuring the performance of implemented measures:

1.1. Implement a dynamic tracking system

Adopt or develop a carbon management software that can dynamically track emissions over time. This system should be capable of integrating data from various sources, including energy usage, travel, waste management, and supply chain operations. Ensure it's flexible to adapt to changes in operational practices or business scale.

1.2. Establish a Robust Monitoring Framework

  • Set Clear Metrics and KPIs: Develop specific metrics and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that align with your Net Zero goals. This could include metrics for energy efficiency, renewable energy usage, emissions reductions from operational changes, and the volume of carbon credits used for compensation and neutralisation.
  • Use a Carbon Accounting System: Implement a carbon accounting system that can accurately track emissions over time. This system should be capable of categorising emissions into scopes 1, 2, and 3, as well as distinguishing between avoidable, hard-to-abate, and unavoidable emissions.

1.3. Assess the impact of these measures on your carbon footprint

It is important to use your robust monitoring framework, to gather data on what the status of particular emissions across your scopes are, since the implementation of reduction measures.

This data can then be used to compare the status quo of your emissions against your carbon footprint and baseline emissions. You can then use the progress on the baseline emissions to assist in measuring the progress on your Net Zero Pathway. On the other hand, it can come in handy to use the improvement or reduction of your carbon footprint for communication with the external world.

1.4. Assess the impact on the projected net zero pathway

It is important to stay cognisant of the various emissions, which ultimately influence the trajectory of the projected Net Zero Pathway. The data on the below emissions will be available through the use of the monitoring framework, which will show what emissions are left after the reduction measures are implemented. Once data on these emissions are known, you can update the net zero Pathway of your company accordingly.

  • Avoidable Emissions: For emissions that can be reduced through operational changes, track the implementation and outcomes of these measures. This includes energy efficiency improvements, shifts to renewable energy, and process optimisations.
  • Hard-to-Abate Emissions: Identify which emissions are considered hard-to-abate based on current technology and economic constraints. Track any investments in research, development, and adoption of new technologies aimed at addressing these emissions.

Keep a record of the volume of carbon credits purchased, or that need to be purchased, to compensate for these emissions.

  • Unavoidable Emissions: Recognise emissions that are currently, and in the foreseeable future, unavoidable due to technological or practical limitations.

1.5. Update your net zero pathway continuously

Now you can update the Pathway using the data mentioned above. This practice will help you to form the basis of your communication with your stakeholders. Stakeholders will be most interested in hearing if the chosen reduction measures are enabling the company to stay on the net zero Pathway that was mapped out. This will indicate that the measures are effective. Also, consider the two proposed actions below:

  • Review regularly: Conduct regular reviews of your net zero pathway to incorporate the latest technological advancements, regulatory changes, and internal operational shifts. Adjust your strategy and targets based on these reviews.
  • Plan different scenarios: Employ scenario planning to anticipate future developments that could impact your net zero progress. This can help in adjusting strategies proactively rather than reactively.

2. How to track success of invested carbon projects

It is important to do continuous due diligence on the projects from which your company bought carbon credits. This helps to:

  • Be informed about any factors that are placing pressure or adding risk to the project, and its ability to deliver the credits and remain a high-quality project
  • Plan for a potential shift of future investment for carbon credits to other projects
  • Equip yourself with content for success stories and communication
  • Mitigate risks involved with projects that don’t deliver or that face risks. For example, if a  Mangrove project is facing unforeseen droughts, it helps to know this early on and plan around this.

2.1. Track the impact of the carbon credits on your net zero pathway

Keep a detailed record of carbon credits used to compensate and neutralise your emissions. , including the type of projects supported (e.g., reforestation, direct air capture).

2.2. Do market research and carbon credits strategy

Keep an eye on the carbon credits market, including price trends and the availability of credits from projects that meet your criteria for quality and impact. If you have been purchasing credits yearly, and not for multiple years in advance, adjust your purchasing strategy accordingly to ensure cost-effectiveness and alignment with your net zero goals.

It is in your favour to partner with a trusted carbon credit or offsetting partner. They can assist greatly in staying on top of market trends and assisting with flexible carbon credit strategies.

Other key components during this phase

Outside of tracking the progress, your company would also have to:

  1. Report and Communicate: Develop a transparent reporting system that communicates your progress towards net zero, including detailed accounts of emissions reductions, carbon credit purchases, and the impact of your sustainability initiatives.
  2. Engage with Stakeholders: Engage with stakeholders through regular updates, sustainability reports, and interactive platforms. This fosters trust and encourages feedback that can further refine your net zero journey.
  3. Celebrate Milestones Recognise and communicate key milestones in your net zero journey. Celebrating achievements not only boosts morale but also reinforces the commitment to sustainability across the organisation and among external stakeholders.