Businesses have a key role in cutting emissions

By Lindsay Ventress, EcoAct, an Atos company

As energy demands will continue to rise it is vitally important that every business has in place science-aligned emissions reduction targets to give 1.5°C a chance (photo: EnoAct)

The IEA’s Flagship report Global Energy Review: CO2 Emissions in 2021, revealed that global carbon emissions from energy increased by 6% in 2021, a growth of 2 billion tonnes of emissions, which is the biggest annual increase in history and completely offsets the COVID-related decline seen in 2020. Lindsay Ventress, Principal Consultant and Service Line Lead – Energy for Northern Europe at EcoAct, an Atos company, in the wake of the IEA report, discusses how businesses can work to mitigate this rebound in greenhouse emissions.

Read the full IEA report here
Read the full IEA report here (illustration: IEA)

In early 2020 EcoAct’s co-founder, Gérald Maradan, predicted that we were at risk of revenge pollution – the rebound in emissions from the recovery of the pandemic and associated market shutdowns (something that was witnessed post-2008 recession) – unless we seized the opportunity to implement change. We are sad to see that this prediction has come to pass, in both developed and developing countries.

Every year that we emit more, raises the annual reduction target required to give 1.5° C a fighting chance, not to mention the costs we will face in the wake of the worsening climate crisis.

It’s been already two years since we launched, in partnership with Lloyds Banking Group and NatWest Group, the “Homeworking emissions Whitepaper” – the first-ever open-source carbon calculation methodology for homeworking in response to changing working patterns resulting from the pandemic, and yet companies keep approaching us to learn more about what they can do to reduce their direct emissions. Some have seen a significant fall in direct emissions in the workplace, however, these emissions haven’t disappeared.

Many businesses have also expanded their Scope 3 reporting, engaging more than ever with suppliers to cut supply chain emissions – which are 11.4 times higher than operational emissions, and even those sectors that were traditionally lagging behind want to now go beyond compliance and demonstrate leadership among their peers. This is really encouraging but it needs to start translating into significant emissions cuts and transformation of business practices.

Energy demands will continue to rise, and we must decouple that growth from fossil fuels and transform our economies. Businesses are key to driving the transformational change needed for this “paradigm shift”. It is therefore vitally important that every business has in place, not just energy efficiency measures and renewable energy commitments, but science-aligned emissions reduction targets to reduce emissions across all areas of the business. This is already best practice, but it needs to be standard practice.

Lindsay Ventress is Principal Consultant and Service Line Lead – Energy (Northern Europe), EcoAct, an Atos company.