Designing and Implementing an Effective Emissions Mitigation Strategy
Sept. 22, 2020, 4:13 p.m.
Showing relative indifference to the global pandemic & accompanying economic downturn, and persistently upholding well-established trajectories, emissions of key anthropogenic greenhouse gases (GHGs) that drive climate change and its impacts continue to grow at an alarming pace around the world. Increasing levels of these GHGs, notably carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), are the primary drivers in the acceleration of the radiative forcing of the greenhouse effect, which leads to a host of climatic events, including global temperature rises.[] According to climate scientists, the continuation of such circumstances will undoubtedly produce increasingly unpredictable and dangerous impacts for people and ecosystems around the world. To stave off the most dire of these effects, the world's leading climate scientists unanimously agree that global carbon dioxide emissions must be cut by as much as 85 percent below 2000 levels by 2050 to provide a reasonable chance of limiting global mean temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.[] Given this reality, the need to accelerate efforts to reduce anthropogenic GHG emissions is increasingly urgent. However, given the scope and complexity of the challenge, there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. In order to achieve the necessary emissions reductions, a multifaceted effort amongst all sectors of the global economy and all members of our global society is necessary. To assert that we must completely redesign the way we function as a global society may seem a bit extreme and naive, but I assure you it’s not. According to Mariana Mazzucato, this reality demands that we “reorient corporate governance, finance, policy, and energy systems toward a green economic transformation”.[] Furthermore, according to Bill Gates, it may be the best shot we’ve got.[] Taken alone, existing or future government policies will not sufficiently solve the problem. Leadership, technology, and innovation are all vital to making considerable progress. To monitor, evaluate, and reduce GHG emissions, national & subnational governments, corporations, and SMEs must embrace and adopt a variety of climate change mitigation strategies and goals. We no longer have the luxury of conducting economic activity in willfully ignorant ways. By actively monitoring, evaluating and addressing GHG emissions, governments, companies, and individuals can identify opportunities to set new policies, provide market-based incentives, reduce risks, and discover competitive advantages that bolster their bottom line. As practitioners do so, it is crucial that they assess and report progress toward these goals to ensure that efforts implemented to achieve goals are having the intended results. It is also of utmost importance that these exercises are conducted in a standardized way that certifies the validity of mitigation actions to ensure they meet domestic and international objectives. By no means rocket science, the implementation of an effective climate change mitigation strategy or goal consists of 3 practical actions: (1) take stock of where you are at a given point in time,(2) chart a path forward, and (3) continuously iterate on the preceding two steps, evaluating, assessing, mitigating, verifying, and reporting along the way. ####1: Take Stock of Where You Are (GHG Inventory) The first step requires a detailed understanding of an entity's emissions footprint by conducting a GHG inventory, which is the tool to provide such an understanding. Conducting a GHG inventory allows an entity to take into account emissions-related risks and opportunities and focus efforts on areas of the greatest GHG impacts. To comprehensively manage GHG-related risks and opportunities, this includes emissions from an entities own operations/activities, but may also include emissions along value chains and product portfolios. Conducting a comprehensive GHG Inventory is beyond the scope of this article, however, those interested can learn more from the GHG Protocol’s Corporate Value Chain (Scope 3) Standard.[] ####2 & 3: Chart A Path Forward (Design a Mitigation Goal) & Continuously Iterate (MRV) The next steps in the process of implementing a climate change mitigation strategy are to chart a path forward by establishing & implementing a Mitigation Goal (Step 2), and continuously iterate on the functions of the Mitigation Goal to ensure the objectives are met (Step 3). A Mitigation Goal is a commitment to reduce, or limit the increase of, GHG emissions or emissions intensity by a specified quantity, to be achieved by a future date. To create and implement a Mitigation Goal, practitioners should look no further than the GHG Protocol Mitigation Goal Standard, which “provides guidance for designing national and subnational mitigation goals and a standardized approach for assessing and reporting progress toward goal achievement”.[] Structured according to a 5-step iterative process, the Mitigation Goal Standard helps users achieve the goals of (1) designing a mitigation goal, according to its type and specific strategies used for achieving the goal, (2) defining accounting methods for consistently tracking progress, (3) calculating allowable emissions on a given target year, and (4) assessing and report incremental progress/achievement ###### **The 5 Key Steps to designing and implementing an effective Mitigation Goal are:** Define the Goal & Methods Used Calculate Allowable Emissions Assess Progress/Achievement Verify Results Report Results In short, by establishing a Mitigation Goal according to this 5 step process, and by continuously iterating through them, users can design, assess, verify and report progress toward mitigation goals in a more accurate, consistent, transparent, complete, and relevant manner. As one would expect, there are many intricate details associated with each individual step. Over several future posts, I will provide detailed (yet surely incomprehensive) lists of the details and technicalities for each step that practitioners should be aware of when designing and implementing a Mitigation Goal. For additional information, check out the [GHG Protocol's suite of Standards](https://ghgprotocol.org/standards "GHG Protocol's suite of Standards"). : https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/syr/ "IPCC AR5" : https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2018/02/WG1AR5_SPM_FINAL.pdf "AR4 Summary for Policymakers" : https://www.irishtimes.com/business/economy/the-recovery-needs-to-be-a-full-scale-economic-renewal-1.4265576 "Mazzucato" : https://www.gatesnotes.com/Energy/Climate-and-COVID-19 "Gates" : https://ghgprotocol.org/standards/scope-3-standard "Scope 3" : https://ghgprotocol.org/mitigation-goal-standard "Mitigation Goal Standard"
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