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How to turn your carbon targets into effective action

Setting a carbon reduction target, such as a Science Based Target, is just the start of your decarbonisation journey.

Setting a carbon reduction target, such as a Science Based Target, is just the start of your decarbonisation journey – in order to achieve your goal, you need to take action to reduce your emissions. But how can you ensure that you’re taking cost-effective, practical steps towards your target?

You need a plan – one that will take you on the most efficient route to achieving your goal. Because if you’re simply implementing carbon reduction solutions at random, then you may not be making as much progress as you need to be in order to stay on track to meet your target. That’s why you must take the time to consider which solutions would provide the most benefit to your business, review your budget for decarbonisation, then set out a strategy for taking action.

So start creating your net-zero strategy today by:

Reviewing all of your options

From training your staff in how to adopt more energy efficient behaviour, to installing a waste heat recovery system on your site, there are a huge range of solutions that will help you to decarbonise your organisation. Start by reviewing your current consumption, and identifying which areas you’re creating the most emissions in. When you’re assessing solutions, you may wish to prioritise those that address your areas for improvement first.

Timing it right

It’s vital to consider what will be practical for your business, both now and in the future. If you lease your site, for example, switching to renewable energy supply or getting a corporate Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) are likely to be the routes to reducing your Scope 2 emissions once you’ve minimised your consumption, as your landlord may not facilitate onsite generation installations. However, if you’re planning to purchase your own site in five years’ time, then on-site generation might still factor into your plan, just further down the line. Think about how your organisation’s circumstances and emissions are likely to change between now and your target deadline date, as solutions that may not seem viable now may be more suitable in the longer-term.

Determining your budget

Some of the solutions should require minimal expenditure such as optimising your heating controls or changing to a renewable energy supply. But others can require upfront capital investment, like installing LEDs, EV charging infrastructure or heat pumps on your site. It’s therefore important to consider how you will fund these projects, as well as how long it’s likely to take for you to see a return on your investment. Look for external funding opportunities, too, as the availability of funding may also impact your plan. The government is currently providing enhanced tax relief on certain plant and machinery expenditure, for example, which means you may be able to claim a first year allowance of up to 50% if you install solar panels by March 2023. So if you had already identified solar panels as a good solution for your organisation, then you may decide to implement them within the next two years in order to claim this tax relief.

Gaining senior buy-in

If you’re serious about improving your organisation’s sustainability, it needs to be led by Board-level stakeholders. Once you’ve identified which solutions are best for your business, worked out the financials, and plotted them into your roadmap, you should have a clear, proposal to present to your C-suite. It’s likely that they’ll be particularly interested in the costs involved in these projects, so make sure that you can provide an estimated ROI. However, you should also emphasise the reputational benefits that taking action towards (and achieving) your target could bring – as well as the reputational risk involved in publishing a target with no plan in place to ensure that you can reach it.

Take action with our expert support

Whether the deadline for your carbon reduction target is a couple of years or a couple of decades away, setting out a step-by-step plan to reaching it can be daunting. Perhaps you’re uncertain which solutions would be best for your business, or maybe you’re not sure which actions you should prioritise first.

Wherever you need support, our net-zero experts are on hand to help. With our Carbon Action Programme, you can access specialist support at every step of your sustainability journey. Our team will work with you to create a bespoke decarbonisation strategy for your business to help you meet your target. To find out more, visit our Net-Zero Hub.