Route to Net Zero Standard: Carbon Trust launches new net-zero certification standard for businesses
The Carbon Trust has launched a new certification scheme to verify business' net-zero targets and strategies.
Called the ‘Route to Net Zero Standard’, the scheme will be open to businesses of all sizes and sectors and in all geographies, with the Carbon Trust claims is a unique selling point.
Businesses will be able to propose emissions reductions goals and plans for achieving them and have them badged as either “taking action”, “advancing” or “leading”. They will then be supported to increase commitments and move up these tiers. Applications and engagement will be delivered using a bespoke digital platform.
On a LinkedIn post announcing the launch of the standard, The Carbon Trust was asked why only the “leading” level of verification would require targets of the level required by the Science-Based Targets Initiative’s (SBTi) net-zero standard. Launched last year, the SBTi’s standard was the first of its kind globally and requires decarbonisation along a 1.5C-aligned temperature pathway in the short-term and the long-term.
The consultancy responded: “We recognise that companies in different sectors and geographies may be at different stages in their net-zero journey. We want to support companies to recognise their efforts at each tier but also to push them to the next. To do that, there is a mechanism that a company can only certify against the lower tier for two periods, on the third they must progress.”
Net-zero corporate targets are notably under increasing scrutiny as they become increasingly common. To date, a lack of certification schemes and standards has led to different companies including different sources of emissions in targets and to many planning to use offsetting to an extent beyond what is recommended by climate scientists.
The Carbon Trust’s chief executive Tom Delay added: “Tackling the climate crisis is the most critical environmental issue of our time, requiring businesses to both act and collaborate to elicit change and achieve success. The new Route to Net Zero Standard will inspire and foster immediate and longer-term action by supporting companies as they create and deliver on their roadmaps to reduce carbon emissions, certifying and celebrating their achievements as they progress.”
In the first instance, ten companies will be piloting the Route to Net-Zero Standard. They include telecommunications giant Virgin Media O2 and gas distribution company SGN. edie has requested a complete list of all ten companies.
According to Net-Zero Tracker, the total cumulative combined global revenue covered by public company net-zero targets amounted to around $19.5trn, as of November 2021. This figure is up almost fourfold year-on-year and represents almost 75% of total revenues. Yet, questions remain around the credibility of net-zero targets in the main.
The SBTi has, to date, had 857 companies submit a net-zero target with a deadline of 2050 or sooner through its platform. Only seven companies’ targets have been fully approved in line with its Net Zero Standard, namely those of Holcim, CVS Health, Dentsu International, JLL, Orsted, Wipro and AstraZeneca.
The SBTi is notably in the process of increasing its minimum target setting requirements from alignment with a “well below 2C” temperature pathway to alignment with a 1.5C pathway. Companies will not receive verification in line with 2C if they submit applications after 15 July. Companies with existing 2C targets will need to update them by 2025.