With Earth’s climate changing rapidly, there’s mounting pressure on businesses to do their part to address the climate crisis before it’s too late.
To that end, if we can achieve net-zero, experts say, we may be able to limit anthropogenic global warming beneath the 1.5°C threshold.
But what does net-zero mean, exactly? And why is net-zero important?
Net-zero and reducing GHG emissions
The concept of net-zero involves achieving a global state of equilibrium, where the amount of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) released into the atmosphere is equal to the amount removed. Here, the ultimate target is to reach a state where an entity has net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across all emissions scopes without relying on carbon offsetting.
Related: How to achieve net-zero emissions
Reaching this ambitious objective will demand a collective effort and unwavering commitment from all stakeholders. The UN notes, “Transitioning to a net-zero world is one of the greatest challenges humankind has faced. It calls for nothing less than a complete transformation of how we produce, consume, and move about.”
Why is net-zero important?
Today, Earth is 1.1°C warmer compared to the late 19th century. As carbon emissions continue to rise, this temperature increase is expected to accelerate. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report warns that, without mitigating actions, Earth could warm by as much as 2°C over the next century.
We already know the potential and current impacts of climate change are devastating—heightened frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, loss of biodiversity and ecosystems, declines in food production and security, and population displacement.
Inevitably, these developments would trigger a cascading ripple effect, resulting in widespread destabilization across economies and society. For businesses, in particular, these changes would likely have substantial implications for their operations, including:
- Supply chain disruptions
- Resource scarcity
- Infrastructure damage
- Regulatory and policy changes
- Shifts in consumer preference
- Operational, financial, and legal risks
Here, net-zero emerges as the critical solution to limit warming and mitigate the impacts of rising temperatures.
The benefits of pursuing net-zero
Climate change is the broadest, most urgent crisis humanity has collectively faced. On a macroscale, pursuing a low- to no-carbon future is how the world can maintain socio-economic stability. Additionally, it also offers tangible benefits for growing businesses that serve as a powerful motivator to act. These incentives include:
Energy security and independence
Energy security is an essential facet of modern national security. The availability of reliable and affordable energy is crucial to a country’s economic growth and stability, and any disruption to the energy supply can have severe consequences.
Simply consider the geopolitical instability and economic inflation within the energy markets caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
As a business strives for net-zero emissions, it must identify inefficiencies within its direct operations and wider supply chain. Doing so can help optimize resource use, reduce dependence on fossil fuels (especially foreign-owned fossil fuels), and, ultimately, reduce costs. Additionally, as legacy technologies and energy sources get replaced by forward-thinking technology and renewable energy, they can decrease operational expenses, drive long-term profitability, and even generate energy.
Supply chain resilience
To achieve net-zero carbon emissions, businesses must engage with their entire value chain, particularly to reduce scope 3 emissions, which comprise 80% of most organizations’ carbon footprint. This process enables a company to identify and manage risks, foster robust supplier relationships, optimize resource use, and diversify supply bases, resulting in a more sustainable, efficient, and resilient supply chain.
Society is increasingly mindful of a company’s sustainability and lasting global impact. Modern consumers gravitate toward environmentally conscious products, services, and brands. At the same time, employees seek organizations that embody their values, and investors emphasize ESG criteria in their investment approaches—net-zero commitments bolster a brand’s credibility. In fact, according to SBTi, 79% of corporate executives surveyed believe that a strengthened brand reputation was one of, if not the most significant business benefits of net-zero commitments to their company.
Prepared for future regulations
The EU has already enacted corporate sustainability legislation, and the SEC has signaled that it’s eager to follow suit. Companies that focus on climate action now can stay ahead of regulatory and sustainability requirements, thus ensuring they’re not caught off-guard.
Future-proofing your business with Sustain.Life
Achieving a net-zero target may feel overwhelming because of the business transformation required.
The key to tackling the complex challenge is to break it down into manageable steps and utilize the right emissions management technology. For that, there’s Sustain.Life. Our comprehensive sustainability management software is designed to help businesses large and small across all sectors of the economy confront the challenge of net-zero emissions reduction targets head-on.
What does that look like? Book a demo today.
1. UN, “Net-zero Coalition,” https://www.un.org/en/climatechange/net-zero-coalition
2. IPCC, “Special Report,” https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/
3. Science Based Targets initiative, “Six business benefits of setting science-based targets,” https://sciencebasedtargets.org/blog/six-business-benefits-of-setting-science-based-targets
4. EU Finance, “Corporate sustainability reporting,” https://finance.ec.europa.eu/capital-markets-union-and-financial-markets/company-reporting-and-auditing/company-reporting/corporate-sustainability-reporting_en