By | October 19, 2021

The U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP26) is one of the first major climate summits after the Paris Agreement, which was a massive game-changer, so expectations are high.

Enhancing global climate action is an overarching theme of the summit. It may be a convening of policymakers, but investors, companies, consumers and other stakeholders are looking to gauge future policy signals and align with net zero.

Businesses keen to align themselves with the key aims of the summit can seize the momentum of the net-zero transition. If they have not already, they can properly prepare for the crucial talks by joining the UN-led Race to Zero campaign.

What Is COP26 and Why Is It Important?

COP26 will discuss further commitments of nations, such as phasing out of coal and critical action on tackling methane emissions that can help prevent an additional 0.3˚C of warming by 2040. It will focus on measures to protect and restore the world’s natural habitats, review commitments to net zero emissions and keep the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5˚C on track.

What Can Businesses Expect from the COP26 summit?

  • Potential changes to legislation and regulations.
  • A faster shift toward green investments.
  • Closer scrutiny of ESG strategies, goals and performance.
  • Prioritizing sustainability and communicating sustainability efforts.

The Sixth Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has already created a solid science-based discussion foundation for the summit. The comprehensive report presents a stark picture of climate change, its impact and the potential for future risks. The report provides clear evidence that shows that humans have unequivocally caused our current climate crisis. IPCC has warned that unless we make drastic and rapid greenhouse gas reductions within the next two decades, temperatures may rise by more than 1.5˚C above pre-industrial levels. This will not just breach the 2015 Paris climate agreement; it will lead to extreme weather occurring more frequently and widespread devastation. It is important that we reach net zero goals to prevent a catastrophic climate breakdown.

In recent years, the number of businesses committing to reach net-zero emissions has been growing with a surge in decarbonization, carbon neutrality and net zero announcements. Companies and governments have been lining up to declare their climate aspirations. However, the strategies and roadmaps to get there are diverse and often inconsistent with the different scope of activities. The new net zero standard aims to help.

What is the Science-based Net Zero Target Standard?

The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) will publish and present the first global standard for corporate net zero ambitions—the Science-based Net Zero Target Standard—at COP26. The uniform standard will support corporate climate change ambitions and aid climate protection target-setting for the first time.

With science-based net-zero targets, companies can set credible, near-term emissions reduction goals that are consistent with Paris Agreement-aligned pathways. A key to achieving global net-zero goals is to include emissions reductions across all three scopes: companywide coverage of Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions. The standard encourages companies to follow the principles of the mitigation hierarchy, which means that they implement strategies to reduce their value chain emissions first before engaging in neutralization and compensation activities.

The standard also requires rapid transformative climate action in all sectors. Net-zero SBTs (Science Based Targets) shall have a target year no later than 2050. There will be sector-specific guidance published with the standard limiting warming to 1.5°C with no or little overshoot.

Solving the Net zero Equation Is Complex but Possible.

Organizations face many challenges in calculating their corporate carbon footprint baseline, including the quality of data used and neglected emissions in scope 3. Additionally, with so much data spread across many disparate systems, it can be near impossible to have a holistic view of your organization’s carbon footprint. The requirements of the new SBTi standard will raise the bar even more and adopting the new net zero standards will add to these challenges. The good news is that with the right software, high-quality and centralized data, and expert help, these organizations can overcome the barriers to achieving net zero and decarbonization.

How Sphera Can Help?

To preserve a livable planet for future generations, we must successfully transform it into a climate-neutral world. This requires a complex technological and social transformation on an aggressive timeline.

With our long-term relationship with the SBTi, Sphera can support you with expert help and advice in setting up a robust science-based net zero target that is measurable, actionable, and audible. Our software and consulting solutions will accelerate your decarbonization efforts by assessing your emissions baseline, addressing and solving the Scope 3 quantification challenge, and developing a robust carbon reduction strategy towards your net-zero target.

Sphera is at the forefront of innovation and driving breakthrough impact through disruptive technologies. Sphera CEO Paul Marushka will be presenting at Sustainability Innovation Forum 2021 (SIF21), taking place between November 8th and 10th. As a panelist in the speaking session “Mainstreaming Climate Innovations for net zero transitions,” Paul will speak about the innovation required for businesses to achieve their net zero goals.

Stay tuned for more details on COP26, SIF21 and the new net zero standard.