We are seeing an increase in organizations pledging to be ‘Net-Zero.’ Organizations have begun the planning process by publishing a date by which they hope to achieve this milestone. As more companies commit to Net-Zero targets, it’s important to understand what this means, how emissions are measured, and how other businesses like yours can easily follow suit.
Before we get into what Net-Zero is all about, it’s helpful to understand where the concept came from. Climate scientists agree that the extent of global warming depends on the total amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) that our human activities are adding to the atmosphere. The CO2 and Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions need to fall to zero to stabilize climate change. The longer this takes, the more the climate will change. In the Paris Agreement, governments are committed to keeping global warming below a 2-degree Celsius change and making substantial efforts to keep it below 1.5 degrees Celsius.
In 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report stating: ‘to reach the 1.5 degree Celsius target, global emissions need to reach Net-Zero by 2050.’ – enter the new phenomenon and very commonly used term – ‘Net-Zero.’
What is Net-Zero?
Net-Zero is the act of achieving a balance between emissions produced and emissions taken out of the atmosphere. This is not to be confused with ‘gross-zero’ targets, which would reduce all emissions from all sources to zero.
Who is Taking on this Challenge?
Federal and state governments and industries must work together to offset emissions. Entire cities in the United States have already reached their goals of using 100% renewable energy. Aspen, Colorado, Georgetown, Texas, and Burlington, Vermont are great examples of how cities of all shapes and sizes are coming together to reach this goal. In the industry sector, ArcelorMittal, HSBC, Google, BP, Amazon, and many others are expanding their Net-Zero goals to do their bit, but it’s not enough.
In the United Kingdom, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) offered recommendations on reaching their Net-Zero emissions by 2045. Each region has established its own goals and will be working with the companies and local governments to achieve their targets.
Some of the published targets for the UK are:
- England has assigned a new target to hit Net-Zero greenhouse gases by 2050
- Scotland believes that a Net-Zero date of 2045 is within reach, ‘reflecting its greater relative capacity to remove emissions than the UK as a whole.’
- Wales has been more conservative and committed to a 95% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050. This reflects that they have ‘less opportunity for CO2 storage and relatively high agricultural emissions that are hard to reduce’.
Countries need clearer strategies on achieving aggressive Net-Zero goals, and there needs to be a global standardization; in the meantime, we can rely on technology to help us get there.
Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, identified the importance of industry and government coming together to tackle Net-Zero reporting. He said, “In Australia, we will do this by investing and partnering in the technology breakthroughs needed to reduce and offset emissions in a way that enables our heavy industry in particular.”
In 2020, the Australian Government committed itself to develop a long-term emissions reduction strategy. Globally, plans are hard to compare, and definitions remain loose. Unless there is mandatory government reporting, it is widely up to organizations to monitor their own progress. It is often taking cross-functional technology and multiple technologies to track success.
Just as governments need to offset their emissions to meet these targets, organizations have to do the same across their portfolio. This is a struggle for bigger businesses, especially multi-national organizations. Monitoring electricity, water, and gas consumption across the entire portfolio is challenging when every utility provider has a different billing format.
That’s where we come in. Bill Identity (Bid) is a utility bill automation organization powered by Robotic Process Automation. Our Utility Bill Management platform can track an organization’s utility spend (electric, gas, water), energy sources (renewable, nuclear, coal, etc.), and greenhouse gas emissions across its global portfolio. The utility bill is often overlooked as a nuisance that just needs to be paid.
Bills provide key data points. When harnessed – they can provide an organization with accurate insight into how their Net-Zero key plays are performing corporate-wide.
With a utility bill management system, organizations can quickly audit their progress via the information on the utility bill, track their improvement year-over-year or monitor category changes in real-time. Utility bill management is just one tool that governments and businesses will need in their tool kits to manage their Net-Zero journey effectively.
Utility bills have a place at the decision-making table, and utility data is not something to be ignored, especially if you intend to meet Net-Zero.