IPWEA’s Practical Tips on Attaining Net-Zero Emissions

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Embarking on a net-zero emissions plan can be daunting for any business or organisations doing it for the first time.  

The tasks of gathering data and creating a carbon inventory may not be a very technical task but can very well be time-consuming when starting. However, practical guidance can make this otherwise arduous job lighter and worth doing.

The article from IPWEA (Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia) provides practical tips on how organisations, especially those with complex carbon footprints, like local councils and manufacturing businesses and a limited budget, can reduce their emissions.

Below is IPWEA’s simple diagram that shows four basic steps for organisations to become carbon net-zero and provides tips based on experience for steps 1-3.

net-zero emission process ipwea
IPWEA Process of becoming a net-zero carbon

Step 1 Measuring emissions

The first step to reducing emissions is to know your business CO2 emissions through a carbon inventory. Your inventory involves gathering the number of resources emitting CO2 like electricity usage, number of vehicles and multiplying each with relevant “emission factors”. 

Doing this is the most time-consuming task of all. If you are on a budget, appoint someone from your organisation to do the carbon accounting task. Only ask for guidance from a carbon emission reduction specialist when needed, provide training, or calculate your overall footprint based on this data.

Once your company has finished its carbon footprint inventory, then it’s time to have it audited by an independent and certified auditor. It pays to look around for an accredited auditor for quality which may or may not be linked to price.

Step 2 Identify emissions reduction options

For this step, it is crucial to involve every staff member for their inputs and create a safe environment where staff can confidently contribute their ideas. It can also be cost-effective for the business as some staff members may have good knowledge in this area. Investing in a decarbonisation expert to facilitate can also be valuable.

Step 3 Develop decarbonisation and offset plan

Once you have gathered the best ideas to decarbonise and offset the plan from your staff, you can now begin screening it and placing it into three groups: likely, maybe, and unlikely.

Likely ideas are those that stand-outs in terms of practicality and cost-efficiency.  Maybe ideas need more investigation and could probably make it into the “likely” group shortly. Unlikely suggestions are those that are impractical or too costly for the company to consider at the moment.

These ideas can be further grouped into categories like cost, risk, practicality, climate adaptation benefits, staff well-being, and others, which can be ranked and compared. However, for businesses just starting with the net-zero process, it’s wise to focus on cost-efficiency and consider other criteria less formally, according to the IPWEA article.

Step 4 Implement the plan

Once your organisation has come up with shortlisted decarbonisation options that include the emissions reductions target and the costs involved to implement the plan, the next step would be to schedule the implementation starting with the least cost options, carrying it out as soon as possible. Options that require significant investments need budget planning and can be scheduled on later dates.

Organisations can also develop various decarbonisation plans or scenarios and compare each according to the amount of emissions reduction, investment cost, and potential impacts to the business.  

These scenarios can consist of business as usual (BAU) when a company does not do anything about their emissions, conservative scenarios – where there is limited emissions reduction and slow implementation of emissions reduction activities, and ambitious scenarios where the organisation undertake urgent emissions reduction activities.

Below are two examples of New Zealand organisations, one is a private business and the other a district council in their net-zero carbon journeys:

To read the entire article, click the link below:

Source Citation:

Lynch, M. (2020). Making decarbonisation planning manageable. IPWEA. Retrieved from https://www.ipwea.org/newzealand/blogs/freda-wells/2021/05/25/making-decarbonisation-planning-manageable

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