As you have likely gathered from our previous articles in the “Embracing Scope 3 in Agrifood Sector” series, scope 3 emissions is likely the area with the greatest collaboration opportunity across the scope of climate action available to companies.
No single company can become net-zero or climate-positive without working with its suppliers to lower and mitigate its emissions.
How can you make an impact if you are just beginning your climate journey? The answer may be contained within the question itself: your scope 3 emissions are likely your biggest opportunity to make an impact on our climate. This is why we set out on the journey of scope 3 measurement and reporting; this high-impact emissions reduction is aligned with the 1.5°C goal set in the Paris Agreement. Looking for opportunities to make that impact is precisely what business leaders are encouraged to do, and there is the leading guidance to support it. Let’s briefly familiarize ourselves with it.
Review the TCFD guidance
The Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) offers guidance that largely informed the basis of the recently-proposed draft SEC climate disclosures. This guidance instructs companies to not only identify categories of emissions and report them, but also to develop plans to increase their business resilience against climate change-related disruptions.
Why is this essential? Every business must take into consideration not just the processes for GHG emissions accounting and reporting, but also the development of plans that mitigate those emissions and improve resilience in the face of a changing climate.
If you have mapped the GHG emission categories material to your business, and possibly even have set SBTi targets, it can be tempting to jump right into developing programs with your suppliers to reduce emissions. However, I encourage you to pause and carefully set out the primary and secondary objectives of any climate impact mitigation program before you begin.
Identify Key Program Objectives
With the limited resources available to each of our companies, we must choose our points of impact wisely. Here are the objectives that you may choose for your impact program:
- Maximizing the emissions reduction, in the form of GHG tCO2e, that a program achieves
- Increasing supplier engagement
- Providing opportunities for team learning
- Increasing company and stakeholder engagement
Most likely you are in a position where you feel the urgency to target multiple objectives with your first program. It is worth considering which of the above objectives is likely to be your highest priority at this stage; this will help drive alignment so your team can make critical decisions when the time comes to evaluate investments.
Design Your Program with the End in Mind
Once your key objectives are set, you may want to consider designing the program with the end in mind, building the paths to evaluate the future impact of the program. Better yet, you can evaluate this before even starting the program using the best available data.
If you are preparing to launch a program, consider the following questions:
- Do you know what % of your scope 3 emissions this program is likely to impact?
- Do you know how much the program would help you abate? (in % or tCO2e)
- Do you know the investment required to sustainably achieve a lower emissions level and to keep emissions at that level going forward?
Prepare for Long-Term Success by Building on a Foundation of Solid Data
If you do not yet know the answers to these questions or if you are still in the planning phase of your program, you are not alone. Until recently, most sectors simply lacked the tools that would allow you to evaluate the potential emission reductions achievable across scope 1,2, and 3 emissions. Luckily, technology is changing this, and there are now more general or sector- specific tools available for corporations, like Watershed for general carbon accounting, or Regrow’s Sustainability Insights for evaluating the abatement potential of regenerative agriculture practices. Consider accessing these tools to build a stronger business case for programmatic investments in your supply chain.
Whether you are looking to invest in a decarbonization program within your own company or in partnership with your suppliers, consider starting with the end in mind: estimate the potential impact, consider various versions of the program, and keep the data handy to compare your projections with the actual reports from the program when you launch it!