At the COP26 Climate Change Conference, held in Glasgow in November 2021,
120 world leaders and over 40,000 participantscame together to discuss global climate action. Their goal? To cut greenhouse gas emissions and revisit pledges made under the
2015 Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement’s main objective was to limit global warming to “well below” 2°C, and preferably to 1.5°C, compared to pre-industrial levels.Ultimately,
world leaders agreedto address issues such as fossil fuel subsidies, deforestation, methane emissions, and the transition to clean energy, with an aim to reach net zero global emissions by mid-century (the year 2050).Politicians aren’t the only ones making net zero pledges. Private sector leaders also have an important role to play in the fight against climate change, and many have made commitments of their own. For example, over 200 companies have recently
signed onto the Amazon-backed Climate Pledge, committing to achieve net zero carbon emissions at the company-wide level by 2040.But what exactly does “net zero emissions” mean?
Earth’s average surface temperature
has risen about 2°F(1°C) since the late 19th century. Most of this warming has occurred within the last 40 years.
Ninety-seven percent or moreof actively publishing climate scientists agree that this trend is likely anthropogenic.
Climate change has numerous negative environmental effects, including extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and melting of the polar ice caps.
Since there are many types of greenhouse gases, it’s helpful to have a single way of standardizing them all. If you convert units of different greenhouse gases into the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide-based on each gas’
global warming potential (GWP), you’ll get units of CO₂e. This will allow you to express a carbon footprint using just one number, although the footprint may contain multiple gases.
A research paperpublished in the scientific journal “Nature” explains how we can reach global net zero commitments. The authors state that to get to net zero:
By combining emissions reduction strategies with
carbon offsetting, organizations can take important steps towards preserving the health of the planet.
In March 2022, the
US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announcedit was considering passing legislation requiring all businesses to evaluate and disclose their climate risks. If the proposal is passed, publicly-traded companies will need to include a climate disclosure in their yearly financial reports. They’ll need to disclose their Scope 1 and Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions. Scope 3 emissions will also need to be included if “material” (that is, if people using the disclosure to make decisions would potentially be affected by their absence.)The definitions of “Scope 1”, “Scope 2”, and “Scope 3” come from
the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG Protocol), an organization which supplies “the world’s most widely-used greenhouse gas accounting standards.”
According to McKinsey, organizations need to “define, execute, and evolve decarbonization and offsetting plans for Scope 1 and 2 emissions, and potentially expand those plans to include Scope 3 emissions” to meet the goal of global net zero by 2050.
Today, many airlines and aerospace manufacturers are aiming to make greater use of Sustainable Aviation Fuel.
According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), over 370,000 flights have used SAF since 2016, and more than 45 airlines now have experience with SAF.Other sustainable flight technologies are also being developed. For example,
Airbus plans tocreate a zero-emissions, hydrogen-powered commercial aircraft by 2035, and a team at Oxford University
is experimenting with a methodto turn CO₂ back into jet fuel. One particularly exciting new technology is electric planes, which may be
rolled out commercially in the US as soon as 2026(fully-electric flights have already
successfully taken off).
Overall, hospitality establishments are working to become
more energy-efficient, reduce consumption, and make greater use of renewable energy.
Some hotels around the worldare now using solar panels, geothermal energy, hydro-electric generators, and biofuels to power their operations.
At TravelPerk, we’ve created our
GreenPerk APIto help companies measure, reduce, and offset their business travel carbon footprint. Our reporting methodologies align with the
TCFD framework, and allow you to easily track your business travel emissions from all sources. This will help you understand and disclose your Scope 3 emissions. You can then take action to reduce your emissions, and offset remaining emissions to meet your net zero goals by contributing to a
VERRA-certified project through GreenPerk.