GHG Emissions Reduction Strategy

Lead the Way to Decarbonization with Comprehensive Climate Action

What is an Emissions Reduction Strategy and Why Is It Important?

A GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions reduction strategy is a set of actions, programs, and policies aimed at decarbonizing or reducing the carbon footprint of a specific entity (whether a company, person, municipality, or other level of government) and is undertaken to reach a GHG emissions reduction target.

A comprehensive GHG emissions strategy encompasses a range of measures aimed at addressing emissions ‘hot spots’ or high-emitting activities within an organization’s direct operations (Scope 1 & 2), as well as their value chains and/or use of their products (Scope 3). Common measures include improving energy efficiency and increasing the use of renewable energy in owned facilities and working with value chain partners to transition to low-carbon transportation options.

Developing a GHG emissions reduction strategy can help companies to identify their emissions sources, set science-based targets for reducing their emissions, implement actions to achieve those targets, and understand how to effectively track progress towards the target.

Companies report that by establishing a GHG emissions reduction strategy and setting a target, they: 

  • Reduce their environmental impact
  • Boost profitability
  • Improve investor confidence
  • Create cost savings and operational efficiencies 
  • Gain competitive advantages
  • Strengthen brand reputation

Emissions Reduction Strategy and Target Setting

Target setting is an integral part of the emissions strategy, as it establishes specific goals that the organization, industry, or government entity aims to achieve in terms of reducing emissions.

Often, companies seek first to focus an emissions reduction strategy on a near-term target, for example, committing to achieve 50% emissions reductions by 2030. Setting a near-term target will first necessitate understanding the baseline emissions levels through carrying out a GHG inventory. Then strategy work is carried out to model different levels of reductions, so a company can make an informed decision on how and by when they can reach a near-term target prior to publicly committing to achieve it.

Alternatively, if a company has already committed to a target and has yet to develop a detailed strategy, or if operational changes such as company growth require revisiting the strategy, the modeling work will focus on different measures needed to achieve the reductions by the target date. It is common for a company to revisit an emissions reduction strategy over the course of the target period and adjust the roadmap created to achieve the target.

SCS Consulting supports clients to either set a Science-Based Target for their near-term and long-term goals or, at minimum, to set targets that are aligned to the Paris Agreement and limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. This means that the emissions reduction strategy work and targets will be sufficiently robust to ensure that we are meeting our shared global responsibility to address severe climate change outcomes.

How Does an Emissions Reduction Strategy Help Achieve a Net Zero Commitment?

It can feel daunting to develop an initial emissions reduction strategy and seek to strategize towards achieving a net zero business operating scenario.  A detailed reductions roadmap can help bridge the gap between achieving a near-term target (such as reducing emissions by 30% by 2030) and a long-term net zero target (such as Net Zero by 2050). A roadmap includes the key milestones, actions, and timelines necessary to achieve each stage of the journey and includes a suite of options of initiatives and scenarios to empower decision-making over time.

By ensuring that long term emissions reduction roadmaps are established in accordance with the Science-Based Targets Net Zero Standard, we support our clients to stay on track to their Net Zero target over a long timeframe.

Our 5-Step Process to Establish an Emissions Reduction Strategy

Emission Reduction

1. Assess direct and indirect emissions.

This is carried out through a scope 1, 2, and 3 inventory and detailed analysis of an organization's current emissions profile, including identifying the sources of direct and indirect emissions. This information helps the organization understand where emissions hot spots and opportunities exist and where it needs to focus its efforts to reduce emissions. An initial inventory will result in a baseline from which to measure progress on reductions.

2. Prioritize emissions reduction measures.

Based on the analysis, reduction measures are further analyzed across material categories to address emissions hot spots and opportunities in line with a 1.5C climate change scenario. Prioritization includes a client-informed approach based on feasibility, appetite for leadership and innovation, decarbonization potential, risk management, and cost analysis.

3. Establish short- and long-term targets.

We help set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) targets for reducing emissions for both near- and long-term. The target-setting step is a process heavily informed by analyzing and prioritizing the range of reduction measures, understanding the feasibility of different scenarios, and ensuring targets are achievable.

4. Develop a roadmap and implement an action plan.

SMART targets require detailed roadmaps to lay out the overall emissions reduction strategy across the timebound period, whether it is 10 or 25 years. The roadmap and action plan includes critical milestones and detailed actions related to the initiatives, programs, and reduction measures that will be implemented during the target period.

5. Monitor and report progress over time.

Emissions reductions across the suite of reduction measures will need to be tracked and reported upon transparently over the course of the target period. This process is carried out annually with any Science-Based Target, and all markets are increasingly expectant that progress towards any non-SBT emissions reduction targets are annually reported as well.

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