To achieve net-zero, let’s agree on one definition of success

September 28, 2020 by  
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To achieve net-zero, let’s agree on one definition of success Peter Boyd Mon, 09/28/2020 – 01:30 Reaching the 2015 Paris Agreement goals requires bold action from all sectors and levels of our society. But any chief sustainability officer will fall short of their responsibility if they simply cite net-zero as a strategic goal. High ambition on its own may sound good. But without describing the emissions their organization is responsible for and the end-state they consider successful, an ambitious claim may be disingenuous. At the other extreme, a cautious, crystal-clear set of climate goals is too incremental in this time of emergency. So how to combine the necessary level of ambition with appropriate clarity to inspire potent action? We suggest leaders spell out an organizational definition of net-zero to enable the Paris Agreement’s aim of net-zero global emissions by mid-century. How should a software company or a city mayor think about its duty to reduce emissions and remove them from the atmosphere? The concept of “net-zero carbon emissions” may feel clear enough at a global scale: Carbon output at a level in balance with natural and engineered means of absorption. However, at the scale of countries, cities, institutions and companies, defining net-zero emissions is tricky. Why focus on the responsibilities of organizations and communities? After all, it is the world that needs to achieve net-zero emissions. If we are to maximize the probability of a just transition to a sustainable society, all actors should explain what they mean by net-zero before they describe their intended timeline and actions for achieving it. In that sense, no single organization’s emissions matter much. But if entities think their emissions do not matter, we are all in trouble. To reach and then surpass net-zero emissions globally, most entities need to be on a reduction and removal path that pulls down the trajectory of global emissions. It is a bit like voting: A single vote almost never sways an election; but the duty and mass activity of voting are vital to the health of a democracy. In this sense, each of our emissions is, in fact, important.  If climate actions were as easy to count as votes, this would be easy. Here we argue for a consistent definition of “net-zero” that enables organizations, companies, cities and countries to set transparent targets and track their progress. If we are to maximize the probability of a just transition to a sustainable society, all actors should explain what they mean by net-zero before they describe their intended timeline and actions for achieving it. In that spirit, we suggest four measurable criteria that, when applied together, elevate an undertaking of net-zero (lower case indicating general use of the term) to be worthy of capitalizing to “Net-Zero.” In this refreshed, robust definition, a strategy for “Net-Zero” greenhouse gas emissions can earn its capital letters if it is: Fully-scoped , Science-based , Paris Agreement-compliant and Cumulative. Each descriptive term imparts an important dimension of clarity, while reinforcing the ambition. Net-Zero can be a powerful goal at the sub-global level if entities embrace a concept that is: Fully-scoped: The goal articulates the entity’s scope of responsibility. This should include all greenhouse gas emissions from Scope 1 (owned and controlled sources); Scope 2 (indirect and purchased sources); and Scope 3 ( value chain emissions — both upstream and downstream) that the entity has the ability to influence. Science-based: It incorporates an absolute target for the entity’s own emissions reductions — assuming bold, appropriate responsibility for emissions reductions consistent with the Paris Agreement and at least proportional to its contribution to climate change. Paris Agreement-compliant: The entity specifies if and to what extent carbon credits and external investments in carbon reduction and removal factor into its strategy. Any offsetting investments should be linked to the global carbon budget as defined in the Paris Agreement. Cumulative: The target acknowledges the entity’s historical emissions of greenhouse gases, not just their current level. By analogy, if a customer ate at their favorite restaurant for years without paying, then started paying as they went, the establishment would reasonably expect the customer to settle their old tab at some point. Cumulative responsibility puts rational boundaries around a historical debt. Our hope is that ambitious, clear targets help entities not only achieve “Net-Zero” emissions but progress beyond that marker to a restorative role in society — ideally well before 2050. Together, it is possible to achieve “Net-Zero” emissions across the globe. To do that, it is crucial to rally around one definition of success. This definition should include bold and clear concepts of scope; assume proportional responsibility of definite, ambitious reductions trajectories; include only Paris Agreement-compliant carbon credits or investments; and assume historic responsibility When clearly defined, “Net-Zero” will be an increasingly powerful conceptual tool to focus the world’s response on the climate crisis. For our full paper, visit this link . To share your views and inform future work, please complete our survey and feel free to share with others: bit.ly/DefineNetZero . Pull Quote If we are to maximize the probability of a just transition to a sustainable society, all actors should explain what they mean by net-zero before they describe their intended timeline and actions for achieving it. Contributors Casey R. Pickett Topics Corporate Strategy Net-Zero Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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To achieve net-zero, let’s agree on one definition of success

Seven ways to inform better decisions with TCFD reporting

September 28, 2020 by  
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Seven ways to inform better decisions with TCFD reporting Steven Bullock Mon, 09/28/2020 – 00:00 This article is sponsored by Trucost, part of S&P Global . The Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) is helping to bring transparency to climate risk throughout capital markets, with the aim of making markets more efficient and economies more stable and resilient.  Many stakeholders are involved in the initiative, across corporations and financial institutions. Each can apply TCFD reporting intelligence to inform better decisions in different ways. Image of seven stakeholders; Source: Trucost, part of S&P Global. 1. Finance director: Developing a business case to increase capital expenditure on carbon-mitigation projects  A global manufacturing company wanted to undertake a carbon pricing risk assessment to understand the current and potential future financial implications of carbon regulation and related price increases on operating margins. The finance director felt the results could strengthen the business case for investment in low-carbon innovation at operational sites around the world. He used the carbon pricing risk assessment in Figure 1 to illustrate the differences the company might see in its operating margins under different climate change scenarios and highlight where investment in carbon-mitigation projects would matter most.  2. Purchasing manager: Minimizing supply chain disruption by identifying suppliers vulnerable to physical risks A global energy company wanted to undertake a physical risk assessment to understand the firm’s potential exposure to climate hazards, such as heatwaves, wildfires, droughts and sea-level rise that could lead to supply chain disruptions and increased operating costs for the business. The purchasing manager felt the results could help identify raw material suppliers that may be affected by these hazards and provide an opportunity to speak with them about steps they are taking to address these risks. As shown in Figure 2, a physical risk assessment can pinpoint vulnerable sites that could cause problems down the road.  3. Sustainability manager: Setting science-based targets for company greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions  A global beverage company wanted to quantify its carbon footprint for its own operations and global supply chain. The sustainability manager saw this as an excellent starting point to set science-based targets for a reduction in emissions, with the targets reflecting the Paris Agreement and carbon reduction plans for countries in which the company did business. As shown in Figure 3, targets could help the company understand the reduction in emissions needed to move to a low-carbon economy and enhance innovation. 4. Investor relations manager: Publishing a TCFD-aligned report  A large consumer goods company wanted to assess the firm’s climate-related risks and opportunities in accordance with the recommendations of the TCFD. Using four core elements — governance, strategy, risk management and metrics and targets — the TCFD assessment helps quantify the financial impacts of climate-related risks and opportunities. The investor relations team wanted to report these findings alongside traditional financial metrics to publicize that the company was taking steps to manage climate-related issues. To illustrate what could be done, the team pointed to the TCFD report shown in Figure 4 completed by S&P Global for its own operations.   5. Portfolio manager: Screening a portfolio for carbon earnings at risk using scenario analysis An asset management firm wanted to test its investment strategy by assessing the current ability of companies to absorb future carbon prices so its analysts could estimate potential earnings at risk. Integral to this analysis is the calculation of the Unpriced Carbon Cost (UCC), the difference between what a company pays for carbon today and what it may pay at a given future date based on its sector, operations and carbon price scenario. A portfolio manager wanted to use the findings, such as those shown in Figure 5, to report these estimates of financial risk to stakeholders and engage with portfolio constituents on their preparedness for policy changes and strategies for adaptation.  6. Chief investment officer (CIO): Using TCFD-aligned reporting as a way to engage asset managers on climate issues A large pension plan wanted to undertake a climate change alignment assessment of its global equity and bond portfolios to understand how in sync it was with the goals of the Paris Agreement, and where there could be potential future carbon risk exposure. The CIO wanted to publish the results and use the findings, such as those shown in Figure 6, to engage with the firm’s asset managers to determine how they were integrating climate risk into investment decisions. 7. Risk officer: Assessing exposure to climate-linked credit risk  A large commercial bank wanted to estimate the impact of a carbon tax on the credit risk of companies in their loan book. The Risk Officer felt this would add an important dimension to the assessment of creditworthiness. Figure 7 highlights the changes that might be seen in quantitatively derived credit scores for the materials sector under a fast-transition scenario. This shows a rapid increase in carbon tax, with companies reacting in various ways. Some invest in greener technology to meet the reduction targets in 2050 (green bars), while others do not invest and pay a high carbon tax or experience lost revenue resulting from bans on the use of certain materials (red bars). There are many more examples of how TCFD reporting is helping organizations inform better decision-making and capture new opportunities in the transition to a low-carbon economy.   Please visit spglobal.com/marketintelligence/tcfd or watch our on-demand webinar to learn more.   Topics Finance & Investing Risk & Resilience Sponsored Trucost, S&P Global Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article On Taking action to keep the world green; Source: Trucost, part of S&P Global.

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Seven ways to inform better decisions with TCFD reporting

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