This article is sponsored by Neste.
Setting corporate climate goals makes for a good press release, but delivering on them is the hard part. As companies look for affordable ways to implement their climate promises, it’s essential to remember that the results will only be as good as the tools and methods used to measure success.
For companies to make their climate goals a reality, they should look at the entire lifecycle of emissions, invest in solutions for both today and tomorrow and measure their carbon handprint along with their carbon footprint.
Use the right measuring stick
The importance of a lifecycle analysis is reflected by one?simple truth — the climate doesn't care where emissions come from. For companies setting climate goals, especially goals focused on transportation, this is a critically important point to remember.
Narrowly focusing on what comes out of a tailpipe willfully ignores the reality that emissions and pollution happen elsewhere.
That’s why businesses must use a lifecycle analysis to define climate goals. The good news is much of the hard work in this space has already been done. California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS), which has prevented more than 50 million tons of carbon pollution from entering the atmosphere over the past decade, uses a lifecycle analysis to determine a fuel's carbon intensity.
The LCFS paints a clear picture of how businesses can reduce their carbon footprint by showing which fuel will deliver the optimal climate benefits. A corporate sustainability team can use the standard to paint a similar picture focusing on internal business operations for senior leadership.
Embrace a variety of solutions
While press releases announcing investments in zero-emission big rigs, planes and other large, industrial vehicles may yield positive media attention, the reality is that the companies making investments for the future could and should also be taking action to achieve real, meaningful and lasting reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and pollution right now.
Pairing the research and development of tomorrow’s solutions with the accelerated use of technologies we know work today is a must. Renewable liquid fuels, for example, provide an immediate, lasting reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and pollution in vehicles already in service.
Without this balance, companies get a free pass to keep polluting today by promising action down the road. The planet and communities exposed to pollution from burning fossil fuels can’t wait two or three decades for the perfect zero-emission solution. Importantly, powering vehicles with renewable fuels can help future-proof fleets for a low carbon future, mitigating stranded asset risk and preserving value.?
Good corporate climate goals must avoid the pitfall of putting all the eggs in one basket. Reaching these climate goals will require the use of many solutions.?
Setting a positive climate goal
For most companies, climate commitments tend to focus on reducing their carbon footprint. Companies measure, and are accountable for, exactly what it controls. Companies can pinpoint the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions across the value chain and then work to stop or reduce those emissions.
While this is important, it’s too narrow. What about the emissions from a company’s products or services used by its customers?
Carbon handprint is a new, customer centric tool for setting climate goals. It measures the climate and environmental impact a customer will realize by using a company’s products and services. For example, a bold carbon handprint goal could be to reduce customers’ greenhouse gas emissions by 20 million tons annually by 2030. The bigger the handprint, the better for our climate. ?
A company measuring its carbon handprint will evolve its business model and product offering. For example, a company supplying renewable diesel instead of fossil diesel will see its carbon handprint go up as the carbon footprint of its customers goes down. Renewable diesel, when used in pure form, emits no new greenhouse gas emissions from the tailpipe and significantly less pollution.
Including a carbon handprint in corporate climate goals is a commitment to redefining value. It signals that a company is placing a premium on offering goods and services designed to create a healthier planet for future generations.
In the fight against climate change, all solutions are needed, big or small. Making climate commitments are great, but the benefits only come when businesses use the right tools and methodologies to define and achieve them.